Originating in Michigan in 1959, Trout Unlimited (TU) seeks to “conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.” That mission statement is realized in a variety of forms – advocacy, education, and on the ground restoration, to name a few. Active throughout much of the United States, TU found its way to the Rogue in 2015 where our primary role is streamflow restoration in salmon and steelhead freshwater habitats. After all, water is the single most important thing on which fish habitat is predicated. But too often, fish don’t get enough, and sometimes none at all. That’s a problem, and the Rogue’s no exception.
The Rogue’s Mediterranean climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, (occasionally) wet winters, though precipitation is highly variable within and among years. Its hotter and drier nature differentiates the Rogue from other coastal systems, and this distinction is especially evident in its interior valleys. It’s these valleys that are most important to fish production. They’re also nice places to live. And to grow stuff, like crops and cows. So what’s the problem? It’s water.
There is broad consensus among fish managers and biologists that impaired streamflow is a primary factor limiting Rogue fish production. That’s where TU comes in. We specialize in water transactions – water right purchases, leases, trades, and efficiency projects. We work with water users of all types to develop projects that benefit streams and people. But this task is large, and we can’t do it alone. Partnerships with agricultural and industrial water users, biologists, NGO’s and governments are key to our mission. Together, we seek to meet human water needs in ways that also improve streamflow conditions for fish. Through partnership, collaboration and compromise, our streamflow problem is a solvable one.