WASHINGTON, D.C. — Trout Unlimited and Field and Stream magazine have announced the six fishing and hunting destinations around the country that have been named Best Wild Places for 2011.
Gaining mention among five other spots was Maine’s North Woods.
This is the second year in a row the publications have teamed up focus on some of the country’s best places to fish and hunt and to encourage sportsmen and women to learn about the conservation needs of each destination.
“This project is very important, and not just to TU and Field and Stream,” said Kirk Deeter, who visited two of this year’s destinations and will write about both places on the Field and Stream website. “This is a project that seeks to involve the everyday hunter and angler in the conservation process, and I think, in order to be the complete hunters or the complete anglers we all want to be, we have to take part in the effort to protect the places that offer such great opportunity to us. These are places anyone can visit. These lands belong to all of us, and it’s up to us to make sure they’re here for our kids and our grandkids.”
This year’s list of Best Wild Places includes:
• The White River in northwest Colorado. This area offers great public fishing and hunting but faces threats from oil and natural gas drilling. TU supports responsible energy development in the region and hopes to work with industry to ensure drilling is done in a way that protects trophy herds of elk and mule deer as well as a high-quality trout fishery in the White River.
• The North Woods of Maine. This area is home to the largest swath of intact brook trout habitat in the nation and serves as a laboratory for brook trout restoration efforts all along the Eastern Seaboard. Brook trout habitat throughout its native range has been severely diminished because of development, non-native trout introduction, air and water pollution and most recently natural gas development. Maine remains the last brook trout stronghold in the country. This quality habitat needs to be protected for future generations and to ensure the perpetuation of brook trout in their native range.
• South Lake Tahoe, California. This scenic destination high in the Sierra Nevada is home to some of the last intact populations of wild Lahontan cutthroat trout. By protecting headwater streams home to these native fish, TU hopes to keep Lahontan cutthroats healthy within a portion of their native range and protect the ability of anglers to pursue them in their native waters.
• Tongass National Forest, Alaska. The country’s largest national forest is home to some of the world’s most prolific salmon and steelhead runs as well as some of the best hunting for Sitka black-tail deer and brown and black bear. TU is working with diverse stakeholders in this coastal temperate rain forest ranging from the U.S. Forest Service to commercial fishermen and business owners to protect the highest-value salmon and trout producing watersheds from logging, mining, road-building and other forms of development that can harm fish. Tongass salmon and trout pump an estimated $1 billion into the regional economy annually and employ one in 10 southeast Alaskans every year. TU considers salmon and trout habitat conservation and restoration a strategy for creating and maintaining jobs in the region.
• Dolores River, Colorado. This special river drainage in southwest Colorado is a high-functioning fishery and likely has the best habitat available for elk in the state of Colorado. TU hopes to keep the upper Dolores just like it is for future generations and that means identifying some high-quality habitat for permanent protection and working with landowners to install conservation easements in order to keep private land along the river intact and a functioning part of the river’s ecosystem.
• The Clearwater Country, Idaho. This unique landscape consists of the largest unprotected roadless area in the Lower 48. Home to mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, black bears, wolves and the occasional grizzly, the area is a hunter’s paradise. Anglers too can escape into the Clearwater backcountry to chase trophy west slope cutthroat trout and see some of the Northwest’s healthiest spawning habitat for steelhead and salmon. TU is working through a collaboration of interests to find the best way to protect the Clearwater while still allowing ample opportunity for off-road enthusiasts, timber management and, of course, hunting and fishing.
“We are very grateful that Field and Stream has agreed to help us with this project,” said Chris Hunt, TU’s director of communications. “The magazine and its staff remain steadfastly committed to conservation, and they understand the collaborative efforts that TU is making all over the country to keep wild places intact and available for all Americans who fish and hunt.”
For details on the project, visit fieldandstream.com/bestwildplaces weekly over the next couple of months.