Thanks to proactive measures like the Dingell-Johnson Act, anglers contribute to conservation by buying fishing and boating gear. Although these funds make a huge difference in the protection of species and habitats that are crucial to the outdoor activities we love, they aren’t enough. In addition to the taxes we pay toward conservation, joining or supporting important conservation organizations is key to the future of fisheries.
If there’s a cause you care about, odds are that there’s an organization that’s already fighting for it. As anglers, there are tons of topics to care about, from robust fish populations to water rights to public lands.
Here are nine conservation organizations to check out and support if you want to make a difference in the future of pristine habitats and fly fishing.
“To conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.”
Probably the most well-known fishing organization is Trout Unlimited. With chapters across the country, TU focuses on coldwater fisheries, mainly aiming to protect trout species and habitat. Of course, although trout are the main focus of the organization, any other species living in and around coldwater fisheries also benefit from their work. They do everything from habitat and fish population restoration, to connecting children and adults with their local fisheries through community events. This is a great group for anyone who enjoys fishing for trout and connecting with other anglers in their community.
“To guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.”
As noted above, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has one of the most to-the-point mission statements of the list. While most of the other organizations listed do by default contribute to the species and ecosystems we use for hunting and fishing, the TRCP makes those issues the core focus. Their three main issues are Habitat and Clean Water, Sportsmen’s Access, and Outdoor Recreation Economy. By fighting for things like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, better stream access, and public lands, in addition to headwaters restoration and other habitat projects, the TRCP is vital to the future of outdoor recreation as a whole.
“To ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.”
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has been around since the early 2000s, but has picked up a lot of steam in the past few years as public lands issues have come to the forefront. Although BHA definitely gears itself toward hunters and fishermen, its main focus is keeping public lands public. They also deal with more targeted issues like stream access, which is something that should be important to any angler. Chapters across North America frequently host events like pint nights and their annual Rendezvous, which always draw big crowds and are a ton of fun.
“Uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world.”
Compared to some of the other organizations that focus on a specific niche, the National Wildlife Federation dips their toes into all sorts of important issues. While their mission focuses on the protection of wildlife, they deal with environmental threats, connecting people with the outdoors, wildlife conservation, public lands, water use, and more. Their members range from hunters and fishermen to birdwatchers and hikers. This is a great one if your passions span the spectrum of wildlife and habitat issues.
“To protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers, and conserve clean water for people and nature.”
American Rivers isn’t specific to fly fishing, but it does focus on one of the most important aspects of fly fishing: rivers. As more and more rivers face threats from dams, pollution, and other human threats, American Rivers seeks to protect and restore them for both human use and species that depend on healthy ecosystems. Combining advocacy with fieldwork, this is a great organization for any fly fisherman to support.
“To conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy.”
Unlike the other organizations on the list, the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust focuses on saltwater fisheries, specifically bonefish, tarpon, and permit. The BTT strives to restore degraded flats habitats that are vital to the conservation of these populations, and also fights for regulations that promote healthy and robust fisheries in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. If you enjoy chasing saltwater fish on the fly, this is a great one for you to support.
“Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.”
A fly fishing-specific organization, Project Healing Waters helps disabled veterans and military personnel connect with their community and find peace and comfort on the water. Volunteers spend time fly fishing with participants, with the goal of physical and emotional healing. In addition to learning the skill of fly fishing, participants can find other individuals to connect with in their area and make meaningful relationships through the organization.
“To help men in the cancer recovery process by introducing them to the healing powers of the sport of fly-fishing, while providing a safe, supportive environment to explore their personal experiences of cancer with others who share their stories.”
Focusing on helping men with any form of cancer, Reel Recovery provides a safe environment for men to learn fly fishing and share their cancer experience with others. Volunteers guide participants on free retreats where fly fishing is combined with directed discussion about the challenges participants face, and the successes they’ve achieved. Their aim is to heighten participants’ skills as well as provide friendship and support through difficult times.
“To enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.”
Similar to Reel Recovery, but specifically for women with breast cancer, Casting for Recovery unites women facing the same struggles and gets them out on the water for physical and emotional healing. Why fly fishing for breast cancer? According to their information page, the gentle motion of fly casting is a good way to regain strength and mobility of the upper body while recovering from breast cancer. In addition to the physical benefits, women learn new skills, find peace in nature, and connect with likeminded people who may become lifelong friends.