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Our 1% for the Planet Trout

On December 16, 2009
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As you may have seen, Tenkara USA has been a member of the 1% For the Planet initiative since its inception. Recently we also joined the World Trout program, which directs proceeds from the sales of our exclusive t-shirts to protect small stream trout habitat. Coincidentally, we later learned one of the founders of both programs, Patagonia CEO Yvon Chouinard, is also a huge fan of tenkara fly fishing, and the two other co-founders, Craig Mathews, owner of the Blue Ribbon fly shop in Montana and co-founder of 1% for the Planet, and artist James Prosek, co-founder of World Trout, are now becoming tenkara anglers themselves. We follow in their footsteps and we feel proud joining their initiatives.

Both initiatives give their members a lot of freedom to choose from among all the organizations out there, and are a good way to show commitment to the cause, rain or shine. We have chosen to focus on helping the grassroots organizations that roll-up their sleeves to protect small stream trout habitat. After much research and looking at the work of several environmental organizations in the US, we have finalized the list of the organizations we’ll be donating at least 1% of our sales proceeds, plus $5.00 from each shirt we have sold in 2009. The money coming from us won’t be huge, but we hope it does make a small difference in helping their efforts. The organizations we’ll donate to are:

The Coal River Mountain Watch: This group has an formidable task ahead of them, a long uphill battle that has been happening for quite sometime. And, outrageouly, it’s happening here. Their story is one that has outraged us the most. It really makes one feel like crying! In the West Virginia mountains, and other areas on the East coast, the practice of mountaintop removal mining has been destroying mountains, rivers, streams, and lives. This practice means that the top of mountains is completely destroyed to mine for coal. The sludge, toxic waste, debris, you name it, seeps into the ground, flows into small streams, and inevitably destroys everything and makes locals very sick. Additionally, the coal will of course then be burned – double slap on our face! A while ago I heard about their plight on the radio, the coal mining lobby is extremelly stubborn, well, they don’t believe they are doing any harm, don’t even believe in global warming, and don’t seem to give a damn about trout, small streams or the environment. We’d also like to urge you to look in this group’s plight and help if possible:

Trout Unlimited – Deschutes Chapter: TU is organized in a very interesting way, it’s a national organization split into local chapters. These local chapters can get a lot done by passionate people who live in the area. While the Deschutes is not primarily a small stream group, we have seen a lot of activity coming from this chapter of TU. They work smart and hard, and are constantly sending updates of the good work they are doing. It can be hard to find a very functional organization with good leadership and strong initiatives, but this group has been on top of it.

Trout Unlimited – Winsconsin Chapter: The TU chapter in Wisconsin is also busy with several good initiatives, and are very active. We got tipped about their work on a specific project and we liked it, they will be working on “Trout Stream Habitat Restoration for Peterson Creek” in Centeral Wisconsin. The Driftless Area of Wisconsin is the primary center of attention for small stream protection, and receives a lot of funding for projects, while other streams are sometimes left aside. We feel that no stream is too small and no stream should be forgotten, so we’ll be helping this specific project.

Our decision to donate a small part of our sales to the environment was based on one simple fact: we’re making money from clients who enjoy their time outside, and we feel we should be directing a self-imposed tax for the purpose of protecting their small streams. The reasons are as much idealistic as pragmatic: (1) We want to ensure our business will be viable in the long term and we feel strongly that we need to protect the resources and the environment where tenkara anglers will go fishing, (2) we have seen the lack of support by our government, and by our own industry, and we need to do our part. It’s the least we can do, very simple really!

I recently read an article on a fly-fishing industry magazine that was giving marketing tips to companies in the industry, among other points it said: “Join the ‘Green’ scene. It’s the latest marketing craze. Create a program that addresses ecology and be public about it.” While encouraging companies to join the “green scene” is a great thing, I think that surperficial reason misses the point completely and makes joining the movement a “chore”, not a idealistic decision. Such reasons, in our opinion, are not long-term commitments. A change in management, or a time of little money (say a recession), and the commitment evaporates. We write about what we are doing to increase awareness about the programs we feel are important, but the decision to participate in the “green scene” should be based on something more fundamental than marketing: we just need to do our part and pay something back to protect what our industry depends upon. We just need to protect what we use!

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