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15 Years (And Counting)
By Pat Hoglund, SSJ Editor
Has it been 15 years already? Back in 2007 the Coastal Conservation Association came knocking on the door of the Pacific Northwest and many, many people answered.
It was Gary Loomis who invited CCA to our doorstep. Fresh off his successes with Fish First, Gary was a natural ambassador for CCA. Energetic. Dogged. Well connected. Informed. Recognizable. Passionate. He had all the attributes needed at the time for someone to hold the baton and lead the charge.
“He clearly was the one that ended up being the most iconic for the whole movement and still is in many ways,” recalls Pat Murray, CCA National President. “Gary wakes up every morning being iconic just by his grand personality and giant vision in so many ways. And the fact that he just refuses to give up. He’s unflappable. He’s just so determined. I mean he just defines determination.”
Early on Loomis gathered some of the Pacific Northwest’s most informed anglers who wanted to have a hand in how our fisheries were managed.
“We knew there was a huge learning curve from the advocacy standpoint,” says Murray. “But again, what’s funny is what we found time and time again is the advocacy nuances are really not the challenge in getting a good enterprise going. It’s the people, and if you get the right people, you get a great launch and that’s exactly what happened.”
The list of the “right people” is long, but Murray points to early adopters like Loomis, Matt Olson, Jack Smith, Dave Schamp, Bruce Polley and Brian Irwin. I was invited to participate, which I did for a short time. I attended the early meetings, but soon realized the best way for me to help is to use Salmon & Steelhead Journal to better educate salmon and steelhead anglers about CCA.
“That was almost as important as it was through the network of states and chapters and members,” says Murray. “You were able to communicate to people and help them understand what CCA is all about. Still to this day.”
Which leads us to this issue of Salmon & Steelhead Journal, which looks back at the past 15 years of CCA’s presence in the Pacific Northwest. The story begins on page 28. If I did my job right, I painted a picture of an organization that faced sometimes insurmountable odds, yet managed to accomplish a lot on behalf of the anglers in the Pacific Northwest.
In the article I revisited some of the setbacks to help explain that salmon (and steelhead) politics is a thankless job. It’s a job that not a lot of people want to involve themselves in. That’s understandable. I highlighted some of CCA’s most notable accomplishments as well to explain that determination wins at the end of the day. It was not lost on me, nor should it be lost on you, that many of CCA’s accomplishments were borne out the setbacks. The word determination comes to mind. There are some really smart people working behind the curtain pulling strings on our behalf. That is undeniable.
Yet given everything CCA has accomplished I can’t help but think how much more could be done. Both Washington and Oregon have a solid membership base, but it could be so much bigger. And so I’m asking that you set aside $35 to join. I’m asking that you volunteer and help carry the torch. Your money, your energy, your passion, goes a long way. Not only will it contribute to the daily operations, but it will give CCA an even larger presence where it matters most: when CCA’s officers and lobbyists meet with decision makers. A large member base is like having an ace in the hole that can help bring about serious change.
It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and complain. It happens all the time by a lot of people. If you’re rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself it doesn’t matter, I will tell you that you’re wrong. Dead wrong. Apathy has no place in salmon politics. If you think otherwise, then you will find out the hard way when our seasons close, or hatcheries close, or, or, or … the list goes one.
But don’t let me bully you into joining CCA. Let the record stand for itself. The past decade and a half has been an eventful ride, one that I’m happy to have been a part of. And now more than ever, I’m excited to see what transpires in the next 15 years.