The WestSlope Chapter of Trout Unlimited is being honored with the Silver Trout Award, the organization's second-highest honor.
Leaders of the group say it's a recognition of the WestSlope chapter's enthusiastic membership, and specific, groundbreaking programs.
Missoula is known across the country for the unique fishing opportunities in Western Montana -- and now they are getting new national attention. Their programs aim to be inclusive by adding more members from various backgrounds.
"Kate Hasterlik put together this incredible women's program,” says Mark Kuipers, member of the Westslope chapter.“We have more than 100 women that are involved. And this is right up from nothing."
Member Paul Butler has also arranged a program specifically for veterans in the area.
“We've contributed, 32,000 flies for Warriors and Quiet Waters.” Says Kuiper. Plus we raised about a $150,000 every year and we put it right into local stream conservation."
Kuipers believes the award is also a recognition of the chapter's ability to work with other agencies that can even involve larger projects, like the upcoming removal of the Rattlesnake Dam.
"What Trout Unlimited does, it benefits the entire community." says Kuipers. "We have colder water. We have better stream side habitat. So, for bird watchers, and people who just enjoy it, everything is better."
Members gather regularly, but also get into the field for extensive conservation efforts, many of which are successes shared with other Trout Unlimited chapters across the state. The group's annual banquet is next spring and you can learn more by visiting their website.