Several years ago, Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (LRCTU) and Friends of the Smokies (Friends) set up a Fisheries Scholarship Fund (also known as the Fisheries Endowment) to benefit up and coming high school or early college students and give them an opportunity to work in the fisheries field with the biologists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Stan Smartt, LRCTU member, is credited with planting the seed of developing such a fund and for subsequently doing the legwork with Friends to get it started and initially funded.
Beginning in June of this year our upstart company, Saint Clair Mapping dba SmokyStreams.com, began contributing to the fund from the proceeds of sales of our new digital set of 44 park stream maps. Then last month we were able to donate an increased amount as the result of orders from Little River Outfitters and Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) (www.smokiesinformation.org). The product is available for purchase at the Official Park Store at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and soon online and at other GSMA outlets to be announced. A portion of our proceeds from sales to Little River Outfitters and Rivers Edge Outfitters go to the fund as well.
Item 100D Maps Set display at Little River Outfitters and Rivers Edge Outfitters in Cherokee, NC.
The main purpose of this admittedly commercial post is to pass along some important information about, and to give overdue credit to, those who have made our unique park stream maps possible. Specifically, I wish to share about the extent of the National Park Service (NPS) time, effort and funding put into collecting the data that went into our trout species distribution color coding.
Nearly all of the species distribution data was collected by NPS seasonal fish technicians or fish interns. There are literally thousands of man-hours represented in our maps captured over the course of roughly 10 years. I have been told that the mental and physical effort put into collecting those data was immense and that it was some of the hardest backcountry field work GSMNP fisheries has ever attempted.
The scholarship funds are donated to an account the Friends keeps, which gains interest, and from which fisheries draws a small amount annually to support an 8-week summer seasonal. Many of these interns come back and work as fisheries seasonals at the park with Steve Moore, Matt Kulp and others.
In terms of dollars, ours is a relatively small beginning, but we consider our donations a fitting way to give back in supporting the spirit of the young people who collected the data we employed in our products.
If you need more information about the fund, please contact Sarah Weeks at Friends (www.friendsofthesmokies.org) or LRCTU leadership (www.lrctu.org). Other worthy funds that undergird park activities include that of the National Parks Conservation Association (www.npca.org), GSMA (www.smokiesinformation.org), Friends (www.friendsofthesmokies.org) and various other park supporters. For more about fisheries management at GSMNP see http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/fish.htm.
I appreciate Little River Outfitters permitting us to take advantage of the broad reach of information sharing afforded by this forum and for all the other ways in which Byron, Paula and Daniel benefit the sport and the wellbeing of the park and other great fisheries well beyond its boundaries.