Fishing Club?
Off The Wall, February 04, 2011

Over the years, I have asked people if they really knew what the Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited was all about. Everyone to whom I spoke said the same thing, - “That’s a fishing club.” Now, that really irked me and still does.

FTTU is an unique organization with conservation, restoration of resources and education of youth set as its goals. Yes, the 350 members do fish occasionally, but a lot of their activity centers around teaching youth how to take part in the sport.

“Our interest is seeing that we can get youngsters out of the house and away from computer games and into the great outdoors,” said Monty Murty, president of the Latrobe-based organization. “By teaching them to tie their own flies and then by using them flyfishing on the streams, our hope is to cultivate enthusiasm among adolescents.”

Covering Westmoreland County, FTTU was formed in 1973 to re-establish the natural heritage of trout streams. By the 80’s it had achieved major progress restoring the Loyalhanna Creek as a trout fishery and creating a popular Catch and Release Delayed Harvest Area. Both have a direct impact on recreation and tourism, and therefore on our local economy. Since its beginning, the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited has ranked FTTU as one of the State’s most effective chapters.

Each year the chapter provides boys and girls between 12 and 16 an opportunity to develop flyfishing skills while learning about coldwater conservation. In 2007, the Pennsylvania Council named the youth program best in the state. It has implemented a Trout in the Classroom program, reaching more than 500 7th grade students in the Greater Latrobe and Ligonier Valley school systems. Here, students from kindergarten through 12th grade learn science and math by raising trout from eggs and releasing them into the wild. In this highly motivational program, it starts them thinking about the out-of-doors, applying science and math to real world problems, thinking about their environment, becoming conservation minded, talking to their parents and getting them involved, and being a good influence on their friends.

Again, FTTU was recognized for another achievement. It received national recognition for excellence in this educational program.

Much has been accomplished over the years. “We are successfully restoring brook trout in Rock Run, Linn Run State Park. Acid rain had destroyed this native trout habitat,” Murty said. He went on to add, “We reduced the acidity by spreading limestone sand, 400 tons to date, in the headwaters on Laurel Mountain.” In 2008, Forbes Trail was named Pennsylvania’s Trout Unlimited Chapter of the Year for this work.

FTTU is committed to accurately informing the public about both legacy environmental challenges like acid rain and abandoned mine drainage and potential environmental challenges like Marcellus Shale gas well drilling. In 2009, our public outreach program, anchored by our Website was selected best in the state.

In 2010, a new program was begun whereby the FTTU partnered with the Ligonier YMCA to help women discover flyfishing as a way to strengthen the body, mind and spirit. In partnership with the Casting for Recover program, it addresses the particular needs and concerns of women recovering from breast cancer.

And back in the middle of January, it was chosen by the Pennsylvania Council to hold a Coldwater Conservation Corps. monitor training program to detect toxins in area streams. The program, highly successful, drew citizens from throughout Southwestern PA.

At the present, it is getting ready for its annual Banquet and Raffle, March 5. This is the one-time fundraiser of the year. More than anything, FTTU needs citizens to buy tickets to support its yearly long projects. Only $25 per person, this income plus that of the raffle tickets will go toward its yearly goals set before them. Your help is vitally needed. Tickets may be purchased at The Angler’s Room, Latrobe, Loyalhanna Fishing Post, and Ligonier Outfitters, Ligonier. Cash donations may be made out to: Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited and sent to: Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited, Attn: Secretary, P.O. Box 370, Youngstown, PA 15696. For more information contact Monty Murty, 724-238-7860.

Do you understand why I am irked? Now I hope you will help me set others straight.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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