Juneau, AK Chapter Happenings, Shoutouts & Milestones

Post by Keven Maier with a foreward by Mark Hieronymus
(All photos courtesy of Chapter #581 Facebook page)
Note: The following was written by Kevin Maier, the first year president of Trout Unlimited Juneau Chapter #581. Kevin isn’t the kind of guy to brag on himself, so I am here to tell you that without Kevin’s tireless efforts at being the glue and holding everything together, the chapter wouldn’t have made the advances they have in the last 10 months. As a university professor (and department chair), he brings a wealth of experience in facilitation and coordination as well as excellent communication and people skills, and TU is grateful for volunteer leaders like Kevin.
One thing Southeast Alaska anglers know quite well is that winter—which runs roughly November through April in the temperate rain forest we call home—is a time for inside work. There aren’t  many fish around to pursue in these winter months, so we hang up our waders, tie a season's worth of flies, develop a fine palette for craft IPAs, and, this year at least, the Trout Unlimited Juneau Chapter #581 has been getting organized. With a more or less brand new board—we thankfully retained some important institutional knowledge and organization talent, but 7 of the 9 members are first time board members—we’ve been able to build the membership, rally the community, and, perhaps most notably, get people connected to their local fisheries.
I hate to say it, but it helps to have a few high profile conservation campaigns running in your backyard.  While the Pebble Mine project isn’t exactly our issue, we’ve got a Pebble-sized problem in the works on the Transboundary Rivers that drain into Southeast Alaska. The Salmon Beyond Borders folks are running a tight ship, keeping the pressure on the local and Canadian governments, and generally modeling healthy conservation activists habits. Even with these threats to our fisheries, the TU Alaska program didn’t miss an opportunity to ensure greater conservation measures for some of the high-value watersheds for fish in the nation’s largest National Forest.  The American Salmon Forest coalition is similarly leading the way, showing us what forward looking conservation should look like.  With these two campaigns headquarter in our regional hub of Juneau, the local chapter more or less just has to show up and turn on the lights at a few meetings a year, and things ought to roll along just fine. 
Pictured: Casting night in Juneau
The new board, however, has taken a more hands-on approach. Just a few weeks after last spring’s elections, the board co-hosted a learn-to-fly-cast night with the local fly shop and TU business member Alaska Fly Fishing Goods. The chapter brought a grill, picked up a couple dozen hamburgers and brats, and over the course of 2 hours, more than 60 people cycled through casting lessons on a lovely spring evening.  Building on this success, the chapter partnered with the Southeast Alaska Land Trust to host a second casting/learn to fish event, this one designed to highlight a recent Land Trust's recent fishing and recreation easement acquisition.  Limited to a dozen participants by the water, there was a waiting list almost immediately after posting the event, and the dozen or so first-time fly anglers found not only a new spot to access a popular local fishery, but a new sport, too. 
Young anglers practicing their skills.
When the last of the fall coho run petered out, we fought off the winter blues with a few end-of-the-season parties, and then realized it was time to get down to business.  At our first fall meeting, we elected sub-committee chairs, working on the divide and conquer approach, and so far, it’s seemed to work. Our events committee chair, Kayla Roys, has been particularly dominant.  Just this winter,  Kayla almost single-handedly put together two successful film screenings, most recently a raucous showing of IF4 that brought in 160 people and raised over a thousand dollars for the chapter; she coordinated a series of “Bar Flies” events, bringing local fly tiers – and many new to the sport - out in droves to practice their craft in close proximity to draught beers.  Most recently, she hosted a special Bar Flies: Ladies Night”, where women tied up patterns to donate participants who enroll in the fly fishing portion of the Alaska Fish and Game – sponsored, week-long “Becoming an Outdoorswoman” program later this spring.  
Ladies bar fly night.
Similarly, board communications chair, Chris Orman, has been taking names. Literally. As the author of the freshly started Chapter #581 newsletter, Chris set-up a mailing list and has been adding members left and right, including 20 first-time members. Not bad for an isolated town of 30,000 with more non-profits than you can shake a stick at.  In addition, Chis has helped bringing the chapter’s social media presence up to twenty-first century standards.   Give it a like at this link!  The rest of the board has been active as well, showing up to comment on a draft planning document here, publishing a letter to the editor there, and generally keeping the chapter moving forward.  
Looking forward, the board has plans to host a couple of casting events this summer, to get our membership engaged in a series of great restoration projects, and to keep the membership informed about both local, state, and national level matters of concern for our fisheries.
Kevin Maier is the first year president of Trout Unlimited Juneau Chapter #581. 

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