Anglers are stewards of the river
What is sustainability?
It is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability and fishing are tightly related.
We as anglers are expected to be stewards to the waterways where we love to spend our free time. Besides the gear and a fishing license, the public sections of rivers and creeks in Colorado are free to use. As a result, stewardship and sustainability are concepts that anglers can’t afford to skip.
The Fish First Initiative is the business practices that our shop has implemented in order to have a sustainable impact on the environment, local economy and community. As guides, our livelihood of fly-fishing is dependent on how we take care of our resources.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, by sharing our practices with the fly-fishing public we hope to pass on best practices and create a culture of sustainability throughout the community. Below are things we do on a daily basis, hopefully you as individual anglers can take some of these topics and implement them into your own personal fishing practices.
The annual Eagle County Watershed Eagle River Cleanup has always been an event that the shop has rallied its troops (guides) to get out on the river and clean up any trash that might have been left behind. It’s an eye opener to see how much junk makes its way to the river.
As anglers, it is our responsibility to help keep it beautiful and clean. The cleanup event usually occurs in September when the rivers have leveled out. Keep an eye open for posters at the shop or on our social media sites for more information about helping out.
We are also active participants in our local Trout Unlimited chapter. Trout Unlimited is a national organization that supports habitat, stream restoration and any other needs the local trout population may have. Our Trout Unlimited chapter has public meetings and I encourage all anglers to attend to find out how you can help the local waters. The Trout Unlimited website makes it easy to sign up for a membership. The membership dues go toward our local waters and you also receive an annual subscription to Trout Magazine, a membership card and a sweet Trout Unlimited sticker.
In the Shop
You know the drill — buy flies and get your one millionth plastic cup upon checkout. How can we reduce plastic waste in this way? Reuse these cups, bring the excess to your local shop, or if you need more incentive — then keep any eye out for the annual Fly Cup Drive where you can win prizes for your recycling efforts. This past June, we saw more than 200 of these cups come back to the shop and not go into our local landfill.
Fly-fishing lines typically wear out throughout time on the water. When it’s time to get a new line, there’s a company named Fly Vines that will take your old lines off of your hands and create bracelets, dog leashes and even cup coasters out of the used line. A fly line is made out of plastic and other composites that take centuries to break down in our landfills. Anyone can send their used lines to this amazing company to help limit the amount of waste.
In order to cut back on energy usage our shop is equipped with all LED lights that are fully powered by wind. At home, replacing your lights with LEDs will cut down on the monthly power bills and the lights will last longer. Our paper waste is cut down by using programs such as Google Drive, that electronically share documents between employees instead of printing out paper to share documents. These practices help cut back on our carbon footprint at the shop and are ways for you to do so at home as well.
Who needs a car? This year we “rolled” out a new guide trip using E-Bikes as our mode of transportation to the river. Not only does this work with our sustainability program, it also gives the guests a unique and easy way to access the great fishing behind the shop and along the bike path. You can do the same thing on your bikes to help cut down on the use of fossil fuels and to enjoy the cool mountain air on your face.
One of my favorite programs we are doing this year is encouraging our guests on guided trips to bring in their own reusable water bottles. As guides we provide water to our guests. Staying hydrated at this high elevation we live at is very important, however our guides go through numerous plastic water bottles on a daily basis. Be sure to bring your own water bottle to the river, this reduces the amount of garbage around the river and in the landfills.
We at Vail Valley Anglers firmly believe that if we give back to the river, then the river will continue to give back to us. We are very lucky to be surrounded by the waterways we have and want to promote everything we can to help the ecosystem thrive for future generations to enjoy them.
Ray Kyle is the shop supervisor and guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900 and email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.