National Trout Center is an investment in our future
Thursday, January 02, 2014 3:30 AM
The New Year celebrates the fifth operating year of the National Trout Center (NTC) at Preston. Conceived in 2009 by the Preston Economic Development Authority as a regional economic development engine, the NTC showcases the extraordinary landscape and cold-water fishery assets of the driftless area, the unglaciated region of the Mississippi River valley. The NTC seeks to conserve our natural and cultural heritage of trout and their cold-water environments by engaging the public through education, practice and awareness. The center provides programs and exhibits about trout, cold-water stream ecology, the arts and crafts of trout fishing and the biology and natural history of the driftless area. Presently, the center is located in a temporary home, but in 2014 the NTC is seeking bonding funds from the state Legislature to build a permanent home in the Root River valley.
The new NTC building and grounds will be another tourism attraction, enhancing the current program by engaging additional fishers, recreational visitors and people of all ages. The permanent home will feature a "living stream" exhibit introducing people to the science of flowing waters and experiments that demonstrate the special adaptations of cold-water aquatic organisms to their environments. Trout center programs draw upon volunteers, technical experts, craftsmen and practitioners from across the region who provide high-quality instruction in the fishing arts and trout stream ecology. Visitors experience firsthand the benefits of a healthy and renewable cold-water stream habitat, and become aware of how enduring economic benefits ensue from wise stewardship of the environment. The trout center multiplies the return on investments already made in parks, trails and other learning centers in the area, such as the National Eagle Center at Wabasha and the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in rural Lanesboro. Through the NTC website (www.nationaltroutcenter.org), the trout center endeavors to become the go-to place for "All Things Trout."
The driftless area trout fishery generates economic activity of more than $1.1 billion annually in the region, exceeding the combined revenues of all five of the major league professional sports teams in Chicago. The trout fishery value is equivalent to approximately 10 percent of the total annual statewide tourism economy in Minnesota. Over the past 25 years, over $45 million have been spent to rehabilitate the spring-fed streams of the region, successfully restoring naturally reproducing brook and brown trout to these streams. In Minnesota alone, the return on this investment has been $24.50 annually for every dollar spent in trout stream habitat restoration. This investment is continuing to yield dividends as anglers from all across the United States have begun to discover this outstanding fishery and to see firsthand the economic benefits of restoring a healthy cold-water environment. Fishing license sales reveal that 47 percent of the direct expenditures for trout fishing are spent by non-resident anglers.
A permanent home for the National Trout Center is a wise investment for the future. The center benefits all citizens of Minnesota and the Midwest region. To support the NTC and the state bonding proposal contact Gov. Dayton, state House and Senate representatives, city council members and county commissioners. For more information about the National Trout Center, or to volunteer your services, please contact the National Trout Center at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are looking forward to serving you in 2014 and wish you the very best during the New Year.
George R. Spangler is chairman of the National Trout Center.