Trout Unlimited held its CX3 (Community, Coldwater, and Conservation) event in Spokane, Washington, from September 27 through October 1. Three members of the GRTU Board were privileged to attend this annual meeting.
The highlight of CX3 was the “State of TU: Celebrating Community and Conservation” presentation by Chris Wood, TU President and CEO. The presentation was highly informative. Chris highlighted the remarkable growth of TU since its founding. In 1959, TU began with 175 members. By 1992, TU had 55,000 members and a $2 million operating budget. Today, TU has grown to have 300,000 members and supporters, a professional staff of over 300, and a $100 million operating budget.
The speaker also pointed out that TU members are rapidly aging. The average age of a TU member in 2011 was 59. In 2018 the average age was 64. Today, the average age has increased to 67. In part due to this fact, TU continues to make a major effort to attract women, youth, minorities, state, federal, and NGO partners and members of the general public concerned about conservation and the environment.
In 2023, TU accounted for 556,056 volunteer hours, which is valued at $18,000,596, or the equivalent of 272 full-time employees. Also in 2023, TU was responsible for:
- 3,058 conservation activities involving 16,536 volunteers
- 3,124 youth activities that engaged 92,990 young people
- 515 events for veterans, and first responders that engaged 3,055 participants
- 93 events designed for underrepresented communities that reached 2,388 persons
- 4,328 other community engagement activities that reached 87,451 persons
- TU is becoming more diverse, with 729 women and 185 persons of color on chapter and council boards
Since the meeting was held in the Northwest, emphasis was placed on an initiative to remove four dams on the Snake River. The dams were approved by Congress in the 1950s and completed in the 1970s. The purpose of the dams is mainly to facilitate shipping wheat by barge to the coast. A secondary purpose is the generate electricity. The construction of the dams did not consider the impact on Native American communities that relied on historic salmon migration as central to their way of life and identity. While the dam operators have made efforts to help salmon move from their natal waters to the ocean and back by means of fish ladders, barges, etc., the results are poor, as the dams create overheated, slack water, teeming with predators. Before the dams can be removed, it is believed that alternatives must be found to ship grain by rail and to replace hydropower with solar, wind, and battery generation.
CX3 had something for everyone. TU workgroups and state council chairs met to conduct business on a number of topics. Further, outstanding presentations were given on topics ranging from the importance of salmon in Alaska, becoming a conservation and community leader, a keynote speech by the Chairman of the Nez Perce Nation, a casting clinic, a naturalist tour, and opportunities to fly fish with local TU members.