Trout Unlimited (TU) and state partners received a Multistate Conservation Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Sport Fish Restoration Fund in early December to support the restoration of the Midwest's Driftless Area.
This two-year grant of $192,500 will support a regional effort to coordinate planning and restoration efforts in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin by coordinating efforts of TU, the Departments of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other agencies. The Driftless Area is one of four pilot projects of the National Fish Habitat Initiative, an effort to establish a federal funding source dedicated to restoring important fisheries.
"This grant will provide a significant boost for conservation work in the Driftless Area," said John "Duke" Welter, a member of Trout Unlimited's National Board of Trustees from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. "This funding from the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges the importance of Driftless Area restoration as a model for large-scale regional conservation efforts throughout the county."
This grant follows on the heels of a Congressional appropriation of $263,000, which was included in the conservation budget of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). At the request of Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI), a conference committee approved that funding in early November.
The Driftless Area is considered by many to be a national treasure with its unique limestone formations, springs and small trout streams. Bypassed by the last glacier, the region lies within the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Land use practices in the 1800s and early 1900s led to wide scale erosion, flooding and the altering of its streams and valleys. Though conditions have improved, impacts from past damage continue today in many forms, especially on the streams and rivers in the region.
Trout Unlimited has been one of the leading organizations in the efforts to restore streams and rivers in the Driftless Area. In addition to its volunteer stream restoration work, earlier this year TU released a report (The Driftless Area: A Landscape of Opportunities) calling for the wide-scale restoration of the streams and rivers of the region, which will bring enormous environmental and economic benefits to local communities.
Trout Unlimited is North America's leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 150,000 members - including over 11,000 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois - dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.