What's the difference between the local TU chapters?
I think I'd like to join one of the local TU chapters, but I'm a little bit curious as to why there are three different chapters so close together. In the little bit of poking around that I've done, I've figured out that the Little River Chapter in Maryville split off from the Great Smoky Mountain Chapter in Knoxville to work with the Park Service to improve the fishery in the park, but what does the GSM chapter do now? Was the split amicable (unlike many of the typical church splits that we won't talk about here)? And what about the Clinch River chapter. I'm really more interested in the mountain streams than the tailwaters, but I don't know that I want to focus exclusively on the GSMNP. So, what do you folks recommend? Or should I just sit in on a chapter meeting or two with each group and see which one feels better?
The chapters are different, and you should go to one which suits you best. The Little River is the most active to my knowledge, ie Troutfest and meeting consistently. The Great Smoky Mountains group has some people who are active, but the chapter is not doing much these days. As for the Clinch River; similar (though someone may correct me) to GSM in that they have some active people, but as a chapter aren't doing much these days.
I would have to steer you toward Little River, though I am a member of GSM. They are active, and you will find that their members do more than just fish the park, or even trout for that matter.
This could make some folks mad, so I will try to tiptoe in with what little tact I posess.
Both the Little River and GSM chapters have done some really worthwhile things in the past. Notably the GSM championed the Quality Zone on the Clinch years ago, which was overturned by pressure from another organization known as LUCRO. Both have been heavily involved in projects in the Park over the years. I have not been to a TU meetings in eons, but they used to be a heck of alot of fun and informative.
The Clinch chapter is a different story. What started as a good chapter which sponsored river cleanups, and bank restoration projects became infiltrated by LUCRO the very organization which aims to never have any sort of special management on the river. The river clean-up projects were great, except for the tire removal aspect. What none of the people understood was that by removing the tires valuable habitat was lost. When we were hauling tires into our drift boats it was amazing the numbers of sculpins and stuff which used the tires as cover. We also, reared 700,000 fingerling rainbows a year for 3 years, which were raised from fish spawning in Clear Creek.
This is my opinion, the Clinch Chapter as of late seems to do nothing for the river. There are no more river clean ups, no more bank projects, no work done on the tribs in relation to spawning assistance. Several of their members came out in serious opposition to the new Slot limits, and several of their members have been witnessed and reported violating the slot limit on the Clinch as recently as last week. Some of this is third hand info, so take it for its worth.
If I was wishing to join one of the chapters I would look at the GSM or Little River. They have their priorities right IMO.
Stana Claus - like you, I fish the mountains more than the tail waters. So there is a natural draw to an organization that does so much for the park. I have attended and few LR chapter meetings and got a good feeling at each one. Seems to be a great bunch of folks.
That said, I am not currently a TU member. I let my membership expire a few months ago and need to attend a LR meeting to make sure they get credit for my membership.
When the Little River Chapter split off from the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter it was planned and amicable. I attended the board meetings of GSMC during the transition and served as the first President of the LRC. Both chapters still work together on the Acid Deposition Project in the Park and other projects. Our goal from the very beginning was to include both chapters in the Park projects. Members from both the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter and the Clinch River Chapter serve as volunteers at Troutfest and more are welcome and encouraged to participate. A member of the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter coordinates all volunteer efforts in the Park. A member of the Clinch River Chapter serves on the Troutfest Steering Committee.
The idea to form a new chapter to work directly with the Park came from the Tennessee Council of TU in 1992. Bill Guinn, who was Chairman at the time contacted me.
The Clinch River Chapter is heavily involved in education. They hold some great fly tying classes during the winter and hold a fly fishing school for youth in the Spring. They are also working on the new Trout Camp to be held at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Other chapters will be involved in that. Funding will come from several chapters.
Thanks for the info, everyone. Follow-up question - If I join a chapter and decide that it's not the right fit, how hard is it to switch my membership to a different chapter?
You can call membership services at Trout Unlimited and ask to be changed. You might be able to get it done with e-mail but I know the phone call works. Be sure to know the Chapter three digit number. That might avoid mistakes.
I'm also pretty sure you can attend any chapter's meeting, without actually being a member. They usually just ask if there are any new people present and if they would like to introduce themselves. I've been to meetings of all three chapters and enjoyed all of them.
If a chapter is becoming stangnate, maybe a dose of fresh blood would be good for it. I guess it depends on how much you want to contribute. We all need extra help.
Everyone can help in some way.
WELL; what an interesting topic. I'll offer my unsolicited perspective if you will indulge me okay?
I moved here from Maine in July but have not yet "transferred" to a chapter here in TN.... I spoke with Rufus King from the Little River Chapter the other night and will "park" my lifetime membership with this chapter because they are a lot more than a fishing club & hold true to the original values of protecting, conserving and restoring our cold water fisheries.
IMO membership without service will not be rewarding.... kind of like joining a gym and expecting to get in fine physical shape without actually showing up and doing the hard work. Your participation will bless you 100 fold and you will find the reward no less than equal to your personal effort.
I have been a member of the Kennebec Valley Chapter (wicked famous as they have two Golden Trout awards in the last 10 years) where I served in too many ways from president, newsletter writer and most importantly the person who researched and wrote all the paperwork on more than a dozen hydro re-licensings with the Federal Energy Regulaory Commission.
National TU is a huge joke; count on them for nothing but usurping the credit for your chapter's hard work & success.
If you get "Trout" magazine you will see how National TU claims all the credit for the removal of the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine as one of the landmark events in TU Nationals history.... the fact is they had absolutely nothing to do with the effort other than a 10K donation so I could hire to experts to offer opinions on the expense of dam removal and the "economics" of dam removal.
TU National is run by two faced snakes that will shoot you in the back if it makes them look better.
When I was asked to research and write a huge "filing" in opposition to Madison Paper Industries proposal to increase the height of their dam (which would back water natural spawning habitat) National TU decided they would not deliver the 114 copies of my written intervention to FERC because they found out that The New York Times newspaper owned more than 50 percent of the dam & paper mill.
Charlie Gauvin feared repercussions by the NEW YORK TIMES so without saying a word to me or our chapter decided to not deliver our paperwork by official courier by the deadline. Essentially Charlie Guvin feared TU would be painted as too liberal at a time when he was trying to drive up membership numbers. He told me that I was taking one for the team by screwing me and our chapter and most importantly the river we love. The dam now backwarters an additional mile of previously riverine trout spawning habitat.
TU membership is all about what you can PERSONALLY do in your own backyard to protect, enhance restor what you value and enjoy. The Little River chapter is involved in so many different activities that it appears there is something for everyone. Membership in the lame National organization that is run by enviromental global warming whackos that have a political & social agenda beyond their mission statement is unfortunate IMO but what YOU can do locally is ALL important.
You have given nothing unless it hurts; if you won't work hard to protect what you love you will loose it and unfortunately most outdoors people and fishermen are takers not givers.
I don't enjoy fishing freestone creeks like those in the park as I have a bad foot and cannot negotiate streams full of greasy boulders without hurting myself But the LR chapter is actively pursuing goals that I beleive in and that is why I would be honored to help them out in whatever capacity I may be of value.
I enjoy big tailwaters the most & wish the other chapters in this area were as involved as the LR chapter because I would really like to work tpward obtaining more public access for wading anglers on the Holston below Cherokee Dam. While such an idea may seem impossible so didn't removing a dam in 1984 against the desire of it's owners and that only took me fifteen years.
I look forward to meeting folks like Byron and Rufus and hope there is something I can do to help out....
You will be blessed and rewarded for your participation regardless of the chapter you join. If the chapter is weak be their inspiration by personal example.
BTW??? What is LUCRO?
LUCRO stands for Landowners and Users of the Clinch River Organization. They were very vocal against the slot limits that were imposed on the Clinch River several years ago.
You can google lucro, clinch river, tn and you'll pull up some articles on them.
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