You probably voted this past Tuesday, right? You walked into the booth and cast a ballot in this midterm election cycle for your state and local representatives. Or maybe you voted early. Maybe you mailed in a ballot. However you voted, it’s pretty easy to think that your one, single vote didn’t matter much, because even close state elections are often determined by thousands of votes. It’s understandable to feel like your vote doesn’t make a difference. It does, but that’s another discussion . . .
By contrast, you can personally have a direct influence on the way wild trout policy is decided in Pennsylvania. And many of you have.
On October 16, 2018, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission voted to add 3.8 miles of Catch-and-Release regulated water on Penns Creek. This “Section 5” water now doubles the miles of C&R river available to anglers, and it protects the Class A wild trout population within. This is an enormous success, and many of you are part of it.
In September, I published the article, Two Percent — Penns Creek Needs Your Voice. It circulated well. There was a lot of discussion through email and on various social media channels, and hundreds of people followed the link in the article to the Pennsylvania Fish Commission website to quickly fill out a form and be part of the public comment period. But do hundreds of comments really matter? Yes. They absolutely do!
There were 549 comments in total, and 440 were in favor of Catch-and-Release regulations. According to Rob Shane, Mid-Atlantic Organizer for Trout Unlimited, the sheer number of comments was outstanding. Rob says that 100 comments on wild trout policy is more typical of past proposals. And these public comments are a key factor in the board’s decision to pass such regulations.
The point? If you want to make a difference in wild trout policy in Pennsylvania, you can. And many of you already have.
“It’s incredible to see the public engage so much on such a critical issue,” said Rob Shane. “Getting 549 people to take the time to make their voices heard is a testament to the quality of Penns Creek as a fishery and a treasured resource. It’s also proof that anglers are not shy to stand up for something that they know is the right choice.”
The move for a strong wild trout coalition in Pennsylvania came to a crescendo last August (2017), when the PA Fish Commission held their first Wild Trout Summit. You can read about that here:
And now, as my friend Chase Howard (President of the Seneca Valley Trout Unlimited Chapter of PA) said to me, “We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. But there’s still a lot of work to be done before we realize our potential in Pennsylvania.”
The future of wild trout in PA just received a major shot in the arm, with the doubling of Catch and Release miles to Penns Creek.
Thank you, to everyone who took the time to make your voices heard during the public comment. Know that it made a difference.
Here’s a video of the PFBC 129th Board of Commissioners Meeting | October 16, 2018. (The Penns Creek Section 5 discussion starts at the 1:04:30 mark.)
Now let’s keep moving forward.
Fish hard, friends.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N