The United States Youth Fly Fishing Team, Inc., (USYFFT), works to create educational fly fishing programs for its Team members and for the youth anglers who attend our clinics. We believe that the work done to foster an understanding of stream conservation and native trout habitat restoration helps the youth to become responsible adults working to protect the environment and the resources. Their interest in the sport is deepened by the stream activities the Team organizes such as riparian buffer zone work, native trout habitat work, and invasive plant species removal.
Our conservation work continues to grow, and we have remained active even during the covid pandemic and its restrictions. All our clinics have a programmatic conservation element as part of the instruction. We have done considerable wild trout habitat restoration throughout Pennsylvania involving young people from local schools, scouts, and those from communities not usually included in activities like these, such as the children in the local Amish community and especially children who had been expelled from school. In 2021, the Youth Team hopes to continue its work on wild trout habitat enhancement and riparian buffer zone improvements. Advanced stream conservancy and environmental stewardship reflect our highest commitment to preserving and enhancing wild trout habitat. Our programs focus on stream conservation and environmental awareness. We teach the youth valuable life skills and instill a life-long commitment to protect the valuable natural resources that are important for recreation and a community's economy. The youth become familiar with water chemistry, aquatic macro-invertebrate identification, habitat requirements. They also do much of the physical work, positioning logs, pounding re-bar, and making riparian plantings.
The Team board of directors and coaches remain committed to foster environmental conservation awareness through stream stewardship and riparian habitat programs. Examples of recent activities in this area are data gathering and stream mapping in conjunction with official agencies; learning about environmental concerns such as gill lice and other diseases affecting wild trout and invasive species (plant or animal); restoring stream habitat for various species; understanding the effects of field and stream management including drilling, development, and other threats to trout habitat.
We intend to increase our commitment to stream conservation and environmental stewardship by:
- developing programs cooperatively with various governmental and private agencies to increase youth activities.
- (Partnerships have included National Trout Unlimited, Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, County Conservation Districts, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Silver Creek Outfitters (Ketchum, Idaho), Community School (Idaho), Wood River Conservancy, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Rockwell Foundation);
- Engaging clinic attendees, team members and school groups, particularly those with at-risk students, encouraging them to incorporate the work on riparian habitat and stream restoration as part of the school's curriculum and initiatives to engage at-risk youth with the natural environment;
- Developing youth conservation activities in the western regions as the team is a national team;
- Continuing habitat enhancement as we begin the third year of a multi-year stream habitat project on these a variety of Pennsylvania trout streams including a major watershed that is in the Chesapeake Bay drainage area, Bald Eagle Creek (including tributaries) in Centre County, PA. The stream meanders through Centre Country and has multiple tributaries with wild trout populations. This project, another multi-year initiative, will be designed to reduce significant sedimentation and to enhance habitat for the trout populations.
Work completed to date has resulted in measurable erosion control and reduced sediment flows. In the last few years a number of Team members have chosen fields of study in environmental and aquatic biology fields. In all cases, the youth working on these activities felt a sense of accomplishment and understood the concepts of environmental stewardship.