Tag Archives: water

Testify.ย 

Someone needs to do it.

There are a few overlaps with my experience in local politics and state politics, and one of them is that our elected officials only know what is important to their constituents if we tell them.

So go testify, and tell them what matters to you!

Read on, and I’ll tell you what it’s like… a real woman’s storyย of speaking my mind in Wisconsin.

Today’s adventure started on Saturday, when I was with some of my TU friends, and our colleagues at the River Alliance let us know that the hearing for AB847 (Assembly Bill 847) had just been scheduled for today, at 11:00.

In a nutshell, this bill has to do with permitting high capacity wells and how we want to deal with the permitting process for these wells in the future- granting permits in perpetuity, regardless of the well being repaired, replaced, or the property being sold.

Those of you who know me politically will not be surprised that I advocate for science in groundwater, and support periodic review as our technology improves and we are able to get better data.

This bill is the opposite of what I believe in, so I planned to rearrange my schedule to attend. Out of our legislative committee for Wisconsin TU, two of us could attend the hearing.

This hearing wasn’t as rushed as some are- I am always angered when a bill only gets the minimum 24 hour notice before a public hearing. How can our legislators expect the public to come to a meeting with less than a day to rearrange our schedules? From what I understand, in that situation, they don’t. They don’t want us to come and voice our concerns.

Even though I had a couple days to get ready for this hearing, I didn’t make time to prep my testimony until today. It wasn’t so bad, since I testified at this bill’s Senate partner (SB239), so I know what the bill is about, and I was thinking about my statement in advance.

In preparation for this hearing, I woke up early this morning, typed out my testimony, and packed up to hit the road by 8:30.

Once I got to Madison around 10:30, I had a major “country mouse in the city” situation. I know of two public parking lots near the Capitol. I’m sure there are more, but I’m not familiar with them.

Both lots were full. I drove a loop between the two lots probably five or six times, and couldn’t decide what to do. I didn’t see any street parking beyond 25 minutes, and the last hearing I went to lasted over four hours. What do I do? Keep driving around? Turn around and go home? Cry? I started to sweat a little bit, and wondered if I could manage to take off my winter jacket while driving in downtown Madison traffic.

I kept driving. It was 10:42. I found a spot on the street, for maximum two hour parking. I pulled a U turn, snagged the spot, and jumped out of the car.

The -10 windchill hit me like a ton of bricks as it took my breath away. I grabbed my wallet and ran to the parking meter, praying that I had enough change to feed it. I put in every quarter, dime, and nickel I had, including a Canadian quarter. That one didn’t count, but I’d bought myself one hour and 58 minutes.

I grabbed my purse, camera bag, and coffee, and hustled up the hill to the Capitol. It was 10:46.

I made it, took a photo with the sun shining beautifully on the Capitol building…

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…and ran up to the second floor, North wing, where the hearing was being held. I found my TU friend, Mike, and we sat together. My friends from the River Alliance and Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters were there to testify and lend support as well. It was a beautiful room, despite the stifling feeling I get when in a room full of passionate people in suits who are better at playing this game than I am.

When you come to a hearing, you sign in. You can register to testify, if you want, or you can just sign in and indicate whether you’re in favor or in opposition to the bill in question. I filled out my paperwork and gave copies of my testimony to the clerk to distribute to the committee members. I was nervous, because I needed to be back in Stevens Point by 3, so I hoped that they’d call me to testify within the first two hours.

I mentioned that to the clerk, and she was very kind, saying she’d see what they could do.

When a hearing starts, usually the author of the bill is the first person to speak, and the committee can ask them questions about the bill and the process of developing it. They are followed by people who are lobbyists or represent organizations, then individuals. I didn’t register to speak on behalf of TU- since Mike was representing us- so I was expecting a long wait, as I was sure to be grouped with “concerned individuals.”

It kind of was a long wait- the committee had their executive session first, where they voted on other bills. The hearing for my bill itself didn’t commence until around 12:15, and I started to get nervous. After the legislators were done asking each other questions, the lobbyist for manufacturing was called up. I was just checking my watch when the clerk caught my eye and mouthed, “You’re up next!”

I looked around, pointed at myself, made the question mark face, and mouthed, “Me?”

She, and the chair of the committee, both smiled at me. What luck!

While I’d been disheartened by the partisan politics of other water bills during the executive session, I was filled with hope that these legislators actually did want to hear from an average, authentic person.

Of course, then I realized that I was going after (and, as it turns out, between) a professional. A lobbyist.

So, I did what I do best… I took a photo to document the moment.ย The chair called my name, “Next to testify is Heidi Ob..er…mumble.”

I sat down in the leather chair, and made my token name joke. “It’s Oberstadt. I married a German man. Taking that new last name is a sign of the depth of my love.” The committee gave a little chuckle.

Then, I took a deep breath, and started my planned testimony.

Good afternoon, Committee on Environment and Forestry: Thank you for staying for this hearing and giving me this opportunity to speak with you.

I’m Heidi Oberstadt, a small business owner in Stevens Point, right in the Central Sands.

I’d never driven down to testify until I saw this bill’s partner, SB239, in the Senate… so I’m new at this and nervous, but this bill’s possible impacts are important to me. I hope I’m in good company here with people who care about our environment and our water.

I don’t fit the stereotype of a serious angler, but I am. It’s amazing how fishing has taken over my social life, and I now spend a lot of time on our waterways. In fact, the first time I told my friends that I wanted to spend my weekend standing in a stream in rubber pants, they thought I was crazy! ::smile here::

With all the time that I spend playing outside, I’ve seen some pretty clear signs that we have an existing groundwater problem manifesting itself in visible surface water problems. If you haven’t seen them yet, you will- photos of our troubled Central Sands water- with visible stream beds and docks that seemingly lead to nowhere.

This isn’t a future problem, it’s a current problem.

You are being pulled in a million directions on recent legislation, so as someone who has literally watched this growing problem, I can offer a unique and authentic perspective.

To be completely honest, this bill worries me. Where is the science? Without using science to determine the language and content of this bill, you might as well askย me to write it. ::smile here::

With this visible problem, the only legislative option that I can support is a science-based solution that not only helps our citizens who are currently affected, but ensures that science will be used in the future to protect our groundwater for generations of Wisconsinites.

I don’t have children yet, but I want to be able to show my future children the beauty of my home water someday. Please help me do that, and oppose this bill.

Thank you for listening!

When I finished, as per usual, the chair asks the committee if they have any questions. Only one member raised their hand, and my heart skipped a beat. What could he possibly ask me about?

“You did a great job.”

Big smiles from me. I stood up, and was immediately replaced with a lobbyist for big dairy farms.

I wish I could have stayed for the rest of the hearing, but I had to leave. I still have work to do! In fact, I’ll be working late tonight to make up for the hours that I missed while driving and testifying.

I know that testifying isn’t convenient for most people, and it isn’t easy- my voice was shaking the entire time I was speaking!

The reality of the situation is that I don’t know if my voice will make a difference, but I hope it does. If we waited until it was easy for us to speak our mind, we will have missed our chance.

Be brave, friends. If something matters to you, fight to protect it! I’m here to help, if you need a pep talk.

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Coming home: Wisconsin Summer

I love coming home from a trip- I am so thankful for my husband, and my home, and my own bed… and of course, my little pup.

With that said, I apologize for the next few posts, as they’re a little behind schedule. ๐Ÿ™‚

My first morning home, I had lots of work to catch up on, including errands. I hooked Abbie up, laced up my running shoes, and ran to the post office and the bank. I even ran through the “drive through” at the bank, since I can’t take Abbie inside, and when the tube came back through the little vacuum thing, there was a biscuit inside!

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She sure earned it, as she did a great job as District 4 Alderdog and welcomed everyone we saw on the run. Thanks, Chase!

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This is random, but we picked up some sweet corn, and I just LOVED this middle cob. Why have straight lines, when you can be crazy? ๐Ÿ™‚

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I was able to squeeze in an engagement photo shoot with Brigitta and Stryder. They’re such a neat couple, and we were so excited to work with them!

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We had gorgeous weather, and we went for a little walk on the Green Circle. Lovely!

It is so hard going on vacation during the middle of wedding season, and I have so much to try and catch up on. This year was even crazier, as I am also staying very active as a new alderwoman, and trying to learn as much as I can from everyone around me. This brings me to Bob. Meet Bob!

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Bob runs Poky Pedaling, a totally free group of organized bicycle rides around our community. He’s an active advocate for pedestrian and bicycle safety, so I had my meeting with him on our bikes, and we rode around the city. Thanks for sharing your thoughts during our “mobile meeting,” Bob!

I made it home in time to help stack some wood near our shed, and I amazed at this piece that I found…

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Bark beetles do some beautiful work. Art by bugs. They must have been incredibly busy before the bark fell off, revealing this masterpiece. ๐Ÿ™‚

We worked up quite an appetite working in the yard, and we were more than happy to have dinner with Brian’s family, at Dale and Sheri’s house.

Fish fry, jalepeno poppers, french fries… yes, we’re spoiled.

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It was really awesome. I sure love these people!

We got home late Friday night, and I was exhausted, but I climbed out of the covers just early enough to run the Violet Thompson 5K, a fundraiser for a very special little girl in town. I had no idea if I’d know anyone there, but sure enough, I found George and Marc around mile 1.5. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Great run, boys. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll leave you all with a few photos from paddling out on the chain. I just can’t get enough of my SUP and Marl Lake.

I made us SUP hatch-friendly blackberry mojitos. I muddled the rum and mint and berries before we left, and the rest is a delicious memory. We know how to spend a day on the water. ๐Ÿ™‚

So many more shoots to share with you- it will be an engagement and wedding explosion here for a while!

As always, thanks for reading, friends!

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Colorado Days Five, Six, and Seven

I woke up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in Denver, ready to head back to Boulder for a little trip north. A quick stop for coffee, and I was on my way- I’m definitely fueled by caffeine. I stopped to pick up Aaron, shower and change, and we hit the road forย Rocky Mountain National Park.

I made Aaron stop a couple times, when I saw something pretty… and that happens a lot in the mountains!

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Traffic was crazy on the way up- I guess everyone wants to spend their weekends playing outside. We stopped at Kirk’s fly shop in Estes Park, picked up a couple flies…

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…grabbed a sandwich, saw this cool sculpture,

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and finished the trip north.

The drive into the park was pretty smooth, and it was beautiful. I kept watching for wildlife, but I didn’t see much. We looked around as we drove into the park, and speculated about where we thought there would be fish hiding out.

Eventually, we picked a spot, parked, and parted ways. I fished. I caught. Fly fishing does something to me- I cherish the peace and quiet and solitude.

The turbulence of the water was at odds with the peace in my soul, quite possibly my favorite juxtaposition. I love waterfalls.

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By the end of the day, I was tired but jazzed that I got into some trout, and I settled in for the drive back to Aaron’s. Unfortunately, I was too busy gawking out the window at the mountains to look at the map, and we got lost. It was just a couple hours out of the way, we drove through Loveland (such a cute name- it made me homesick!), and by the time we got back, it was pretty late. I love seeing the sunset over the mountains.

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The ride was pretty quiet, since hanger was setting in. Aaron barely survived the wrath of a hungry, tired Heidi. We ordered a pizza, and I fell asleep immediately after dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

Day Six began with a hot run on the Boulder Creek Trail. Six miles on my sixth day.

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This trail intertwines with the creek and the road like a braid, and I saw a variety of scenery!

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Boulder was preparing for their Ironman the following weekend, so I saw signs everywhere letting people know they should plan alternate routes. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I was so hot when I finished my run that I jumped right in the stream. I advocate for cold water all over the place, and I know the science behind the water temperature needs of trout, so I KNOW how cold trout streams are… but there is nothing quite like sticking your head in one. I cooled down in a hurry. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I started and ended my run at a busy park (Eben G. Fine), so there were two cars waiting for spaces in the small parking lot. It made my usual change-in-the-car routine a little more awkward- struggling to change out of stream-soaked running clothes in a car while you’re being mildly monitored is less than romantic. ๐Ÿ˜‰ After I swapped out spandex for a sundress, I went to grab coffee and lunch at The Cup.

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I made a quick stop at Boulder Running Company to buy a perfectly tourist “Run Colorado” shirt, then I headed back to Aaron’s. A quickย shower, a clean dress, and we went to Avery Brewing for dinner and beer

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The food was fabulous, the beer was great, and I was happy to relax. All these adventures were starting to wear me out!

On the way back to the car, I noticed this…

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Boulder: where even the fire hydrants are pretty.

We finished up dinner with frozen yogurt, probably the most innocent of my vices, and before I knew it, I was sleeping soundly.

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Day Seven, my last day in Colorado, started with me driving into Boulder, renting a bike and checking out the city on two wheels.

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My job as an alderperson has changed the way I think about cities, and it makes me extra interested in how other municipalities approach pedestrian and bicycle traffic. I took lots of photos and started formulating new ideas to take home.image6 (1)

I rode past my favorite Boulder fly shop

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…loved this downtown bicycle parking…

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…and returned my bike in time to head over toย Celestial Seasonings for a tour of their tea factory. It was a perfect way to wind down my last day- relaxing with some hot tea.

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Since there are no cameras allowed inside the facility, I’ll leave you with this super sexy image of me in a hair net. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I headed back to Aaron’s and starting packing everything back into my luggage. It’s amazing how much my clothes multiply while I’m on a trip. I suppose that if I stopped shopping on vacation, the problem would be alleviated. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Day Eight. Coming home. Denver has a pretty cool airport.

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You’ll find me in the airport with my three necessities: my fly rod, my yoga mat, and a tripod. ๐Ÿ™‚

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My flights were uneventful, and even with the time change and the three hour drive from the airport, I made it home in time for dinner and a nap. ๐Ÿ™‚

More adventures to come- I returned from this trip with lots of photo shoots and meetings to catch up on.

As always, thanks for reading!

Miles this year: 350.3

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Colorado: Days Three and Four

I kicked off day three in Colorado with a little paddleboarding at the reservoir. It was a beautiful morning to spend on the water! Just as I was about to lock the car and head in, one of my October brides called me, reminding me that I’m never actually on vacation, but I can pretend to be. I scheduled a meeting with her for when I got home and tried to put it out of my mind.

This view helped.

I took my brookie for a swim…

This SUP was very different than the wooden beauty that I have at home, but it was a great time. I changed out of my suit into a sundress in the car (mental note: spray Febreeze again to keep that hot car from smelling like the river…), then headed downtown to grab coffee and do a little work.

I love this little shop,ย The Cup, so I kept coming back. It’s a really popular place, so the lines are usually pretty long. I had almost made it to the front of the line, and the man in front of me was asking the barista all sorts of questions about the prices of coffee, and he dropped a handful of change on the counter and started counting it. He suggested that he’d go to Starbucks since it was cheaper over there. It was obvious to me that he was having a hard time paying for his coffee, so I said, “It’s okay, I’ll give you a buck or two to cover your coffee.” Karma points earned. It was sure a surprise for me when he turned to the barista and said, “In that case, instead of drip coffee, I’d like the Nitro.” It must have been some kind of coffee with nitrogen… so I ended up buying my stranger a $5 cup of coffee. Sure, I’d blown my coffee budget, but at least that guy got a really nice cup of coffee. I stuck with drip, myself.

I typed and edited and read and sorted, then packed up to head to the fly shop to meet Kyle. I’d been virtually introduced to Kyle through my other TU friend from Oregon, also named Kyle. It turns out that TU people are awesome, though that’s really no surprise to me. We met in real life at the shop, grabbed a couple flies, then headed out to Boulder Creek.

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It was a beautiful day to be out on the water.

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(photo credit: random awesome fly angler who walked by)

Kyle caught a couple fish, and I didn’t catch a darn thing. I did have a strike, though… but couldn’t follow through. I was amazed at some of the shallow moving water that was holding fish. I couldn’t believe they were in there! I tried several new casting techniques that I’ve never done before. It was a great learning experience. I just love fishing in other areas and learning more about fish behavior.

We stripped off our wet waders and boots and headed back into town for tacos and beer at Sanitas, and we talked about TU on the drive. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I really love that organization and everything they do for cold water.

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Delicious food, great beer, and fabulous company. Thank you for all your help, Kyle! I really appreciate you taking a chance to get out fishing with a stranger.

I came home to see this smiling face, and I fell sound asleep, dreaming dreams of pretty mountain trout. โค

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And just like that, I woke up. Solo fishing day.

Don’t get scared now.

After being skunked fishing with Kyle the day beforeย (who certainly knows what he’s doing), I headed out to the stream with low confidence. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment, because embracing a bad mood is no help to anyone, especially myself.

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Once I picked my spot to fish, I grabbed my yoga mat, did a few poses with deep breathing, and strung up my rod.
I walked down to the river, and tried this new spot. No luck.

Another new spot. No luck.

Changed flies. No luck.

Changed flies and went to a new spot, scaring a snake along the way. No luck.

Tried a dropper. Lost both flies in a tree lined with other anglers’ flies.

Tried not to be frustrated, but didn’t know what fly to use. Tried a hopper. No luck.

Caddis? Before I had a chance to cast, I saw a hummingbird flying near me, making the cutest little sound. Took a brave little walk through fast water, holding on to a dead tree for security.
Cast once. Twice. Three times, then a flash and strike. Set the hook!
I pulled in the prettiest brown trout, and burst into tears.. so yeah, I snapped. Lost my shit. It must have been the stress and the pressure… no one wants to fly out to a new state in a new region and come home empty handed. Relief washed over me when I felt the tug at the end of my line. Thank. Goodness. I fooled one.

I caught several more in the next fifteen minutes, including the biggest trout I’ve ever caught while wading. I packed it up and headed back early, leaving on a high note.
This game is certainly about the chase, about feeling independently adequate, trusting yourself and trusting the fish, and being brave on solo adventures. Sometimes it’s harder than I thought it would be, but it’s always worth it.

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I grabbed a quick lunch from a food truck downtown, then headed up toย Chautauqua to run my little heart out.

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Trail running: where going down is just as hard as going up. Don’t-fall-don’t-fall-don’t-fall.

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It was an awesome run, and very unlike my flat Central Sands home. There is a beautiful grassy park at Chautauqua where I stretched out and did a little yoga, then headed back to Aaron’s to shower and get ready for “girls’ night out.”

The drive to Denver was pretty short and there wasn’t much traffic, so I got there before Meredith was finished with her kickball game. I stopped in at Starbucks to grab coffee and do a little work until she was ready to hang out. The view from the coffee shop was amazing!

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When I got the “I’m ready!” text, I headed to the park to finally see my friend! I met Meredith when we were in first grade, and the rest is history. I love that the park she was playing in had views of the mountains on one side, and the Denver skyline on the other. So awesome.

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We headed to Meredith’s condo for dinner, catching up, and we got ready to go out. She has a gorgeous view of the skyline from the patio of her Capitol Hill condo.

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I don’t know the names of all the places we went, but we danced, played beer pong, and laughed a lot. Thank you for the fun night, Mere!!!

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All this vacation was wearing me out, and I was so happy to snuggle in on Meredith’s couch for a night of sleep before my upcoming day at Rocky Mountain National Park. That adventure is up next.

Here, fishy fishy…

Miles this year: 347.65

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How did I get into conservation and fly fishing, anyway?

It’s a pretty simple story, and a perfect example of the butterfly effect. A couple years after I graduated from college, our photography business was growing and we were making a name for ourselves in our small college town. I was very close with my professors in our department as a student, and our department chair’s husband is an active Trout Unlimited (TU) volunteer. He knew of our photography, so he contacted me and asked if we could meet for coffee- he had a request for me.

To be honest, I kind of put it off. I didn’t know what TU was, and I was busy! Thankfully, he was persistent, and we eventually met at my favorite local coffee shop. He talked to me a little bit about what Trout Unlimited does in conservation, and asked me if I’d be willing to donate my time and take before, during, and after photos of their local stream restoration projects. 

Of course, I thought this was really interesting. I didn’t fish, and I didn’t spend much time in small streams. As a sea kayaker, I’ve spent lots of time on the water in a very non-intrusive way, but this was something totally new. I immediately agreed to help them out, and before I knew it, I was out on their streams with my camera. 

 

  

  

I brought the photos to their board, and asked them what their plans were for these images. I thought they were very powerful, and wanted to see how big their reach is. As it turns out, they had an outdated and not-maintained website, so I offered to build them a new one and run it. Shortly after, they created a position for me on their board, and I started learning more about what Trout Unlimited does in our community.

On those stream outings, the guys were always picking up rocks to look for bugs. They talked to me about the bugs that trout eat, and what different bugs indicate about the ecosystem below the water surface. In fly fishing, the “bait” is called flies. Some of the guys tie their own flies, out of special feathers, thread, and various materials. Some of the guys had flies with them, so they showed me which bugs the flies are supposed to imitate. I used to make a lot of jewelry, and I’m a crafty person, so I was quickly interested in fly tying, and went to several TU-hosted workshops.

  

In the winter, my chapter gets together to build lunker structures that we install when the weather is warmer. They even let me help! I kind of think of building lunker structures as Habitat for Humanity for trout. The structures go into a stream bank (or we create a new one) and give the fish a place to hide and safe places to hang out.  I have met some awesome people through my work with TU. Our university has an incredibly intelligent and approachable hydrologist, who worked diligently with me to help me understand groundwater in a more accurate way. It’s a pretty complicated system! The university even sent me out with them when they tested water flow on some of our local streams, and explained to me the different variables that make a difference in the health of a stream. That led to me being invited along with the DNR on some of their fish shocking outings. Fish shocking is the casual way to refer to their fish survey techniques. They basically put an electrified probe in the water, and the current causes a little muscle spasm on the side of the fish that is the closest to the probe. It causes them to swim toward the probe, and the fisheries guys net them up, measure them, then let them go.  

  

  

  

 They’re so efficient- the fish are hardly out of the water, and they seem to be totally unharmed. It’s not like a tazer kind of shock! Being such a soft-hearted girl, I was worried about hurting the fish, but they reassured me that the fish continue on their merry way. These surveys help the DNR learn the diversity of fish in a stream, the age of the fish, and the health of the stream… if there aren’t any young fish present, it probably means that the fish can’t naturally reproduce in that section of stream. It’s so interesting, and I got to see some of the prettiest (and tiniest!) fish in some of my home water. 

I learned more about the threats to water in my area, and in the Central Sands area of Wisconsin, where I live, high-capacity well pumping is the problem. Well, specifically, over-pumping. A lack of DNR’s ability to effectively judge cumulative impact in the past has caused major problems. I became active with the Central Sands Water Action Coalition and met many folks from river and lake associations who are watching their streams and lakes dry up, quite literally. 

 I’ve found it a good challenge to raise awareness of groundwater problems since we can’t see the problem until it’s too late, and it manifests itself on our surface water, or in dried up streams like in the photo above.

After a couple years of volunteering, my local TU chapter gave me a fly rod and reel at their banquet, as a gift for helping to bring them more up to date with media. Here’s a very cute picture of me holding the rod awkwardly after the presentation, because I’d never held one before!  

They also gave me a scholarship to their Fly Fishing School, so I could learn how to use it. I waited anxiously for a few months until the school, then I learned about casting, the gear for fly fishing, the knots we use, some of the bugs, and how to read a stream. 

  

  

Those TU guys in my chapter really know their stuff! Most of them have been playing in the water since before I was born, and they were surprisingly eager to share their knowledge and passion for fly fishing with me. We went fishing after the school, and I caught my first trout, a beautiful little brookie.

 

The hot pink spots just blew my mind. I didn’t touch her, I was afraid I was going to hurt her! That’s when I knew that I wanted to spend my time helping to protect these gorgeous creatures and the bigger environment that they represent. Our beautiful “canary in the coal mine,” if you will… 

TU isn’t necessarily a fishing organization, but there is a strong connection between trout and stream health. Trout are a very delicate fish, and they can’t survive in warm water. When the water becomes warmer for a variety of reasons (erosion, less cold water coming in, warming air temperatures, etc…) trout cannot thrive. Our only native local fish, the brook trout, is the most sensitive of all trout. A perfect example of this is on the Tomorrow River in Amherst. It’s about a 15 minute drive East of my house, in a tiny little town. In Amherst, there is a dam on the river, and a big mill pond above the dam. On the river upstream of the dam and the pond, brook trout are living happily and healthily in nice, clean, cold water. When the river widens for the pond, it is stagnant, and wide, and shallow, and the water warms up several degrees. There is also poisonous blue-green algae thriving in the pond. Don’t kayak in there! Below the dam, there are no brook trout. The water is too warm for them to survive! The pond has totally changed the ecosystem of that stream, and fish are no longer able to swim up and down that river naturally. It’s a manmade problem. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Fly anglers, due to the nature of the sport, often spend time in their waders (waterproof pants), standing in the water. They go back to the same places again and again, and can see changes over time. That’s why there are so many fly anglers concerned about the health of our streams! 

So, I learned what TU does, and I learned to fly fish, and I learned more about the environment and cold water conservation, then I learned the key players in water in our area. The Wisconsin State Council of TU asked me if I would be willing to help them get more women involved in TU and get more of our current female members engaged at the state level. I jumped at that chance, and I became the first women’s initiative chair on the state council. I started learning more about the challenges to water in our state, rather than just my region, and I started connecting with lots more like-minded women. One of the big challenges to healthy water in our state was the Penokee Hills and the impending Gogebic Taconite mine. Our Wisconsin NLC rep (leadership within national TU), Bill Heart, took me up on a tour of the proposed mine site, took me through the Native American camp on the land, and showed me first-hand the beauty of that area.  After a couple years of being the Wisconsin Women’s Initiative chair, I found myself working as a contractor for national TU, continuing to further the women’s initiative- getting women involved, engaged, and helping to encourage and lift women up into leadership. Those of you who have known me for a while know that I’m a big advocate for empowering women and diversifying leadership in our country. I grew up with an incredibly awesome and strong single mother, and I’m a girl from the “Girl Power” generation. 

I’ve even gotten a couple photography gigs from the folks that I’ve met through TU. A couple guide companies and a few articles, and I’ve gotten to travel and hang out with some very cool people.

   

             I have gotten more and more involved with politics, as well. I didn’t realize, until spending time volunteering for TU, that there are a lot of politics in conservation! I wanted my opinions known, so I’ve taken advocacy trainings from the River Alliance and befriended folks at the Wisconsin League of Conservation voters, and I’m working to make sure that my legislators know that I’m here, and I’m speaking for the fish. It’s not just the fish, though… healthy, cold water for the fish means healthy, cold water for us. For our kids. For our drinking water. The water is all the same, and someone needs to look out for it. ๐Ÿ˜€

So… that’s my story. How a girly-girl turned into a serious conservationist, fly angler, and educated advocate for water. My involvement with Trout Unlimited has changed my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading and following me on my adventures!

Miles this year: 217.45

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Driftless adventures

Our first stop once we got back to Wisconsin was at Goose Island park.

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We put in, and headed out for a great paddle on the beautiful Mississippi River ๐Ÿ™‚
We stayed pretty sheltered, since the park is full of beautiful little water mazes, and we spent a couple hours exploring.

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It was a fun day to be out- hot, humid, and a fair amount of current, but very little chop. After we loaded up, we dried off, hydrated, and headed down to Viroqua via a beautiful country drive. 30 minutes of solid Wisconsin. โค
A late lunch at the co-op, and 15 more minutes in the car led to one of my favorite spots, Camp Creek.

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We only had a couple hours to play down there, but I caught a few fish.

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I also took my very first fish selfie.

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I peeled off those waders, sat by the car, and ate chocolate cake while drinking an IPA. Perfection.
We packed up and drove the three hours to home, with just enough energy to unload the car from the home-Amherst-Milwaukee-Winona-LaCrosse-Viroqua-home trip, and collapsed into bed.
My Monday morning involved getting my first crown. I didn’t realize that young people needed crowns sometimes, so I felt pretty old when they told me I needed one. In order to lighten the mood, I wore a crown to my crown appointment.

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Yes, I love my crazy life.
As always, thanks for reading, friends!
See you soon!

Miles this year: 417.65

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Idaho

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to head over to Idaho for some photo work in December. It was a mountain-y, amazing experience. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love that a big part of my job involves playing outside.
Check it out.
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I wore that bear hat when I was on the Bear River, and I liked it so much I kept it on most of the trip!
One of the cities that I stayed in was a little place called Lava Hot Springs. There were little private hot tubs, both indoor and outdoor, that were filled with continually flowing water from the hot springs in the river. It was pretty cool to sit in them!
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I was lucky enough to have my friend, Chris, take me out to (the?) Henry’s Fork and help me catch some fish!
I caught a couple different kinds, the above Rainbow Trout (on my new Tenkara rod), and a really special (and purple!) Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (on the Bear). I was so excited when I caught that fish that I fell in the water. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t explain the feeling that comes when I can figure out where the fish are, use the right fly, and cast to the fish in a way that allows me, just for a second, to take in the beauty of a native fish that belongs in that water. A kind of fish that has been there for longer than any of us have been here. It’s just special. Plus, that fish was purple. With orange. โค

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One of my favorite parts about traveling is learning. Every city is different, each state is special. It is amazing how all these waters can simultaneously be the same and unique. Healing, for sure… those hot springs, quite literally. Special thanks to Chris for shooting a few of me in my element, and putting me on a few fish. ๐Ÿ™‚
It was a sweet trip, only slightly tarnished by a major shutdown of the SLC airport due to a crazy snowstorm, and an extra day and a half stuck alone in a hotel room topped off by flying standby home with my foot in that walking boot…
but I made it home in time to snuggle with B, bake my Christmas cookies, and finish all my shopping.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m blessed with some of these amazing opportunities… But I just give thanks, and enjoy, and share the results with you!
Have a good one, friends. Up next? Reno and Georgia. ๐Ÿ™‚

Miles this year: 116.2

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