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Local Trout Unlimited Chapters Win Big in National Contest

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The Pisgah and Land O’ Sky chapters of Trout Unlimited recently joined forces to raise a total of $4,155 to notch a remarkable win and trigger a series of cash awards.

The cash rewards totaled an additional $10,600 in the 2017 Embrace A Stream Challenge sponsored by Orvis and Trout Unlimited.

To qualify for the yearly Embrace A Stream Challenge, a project must receive a highly- competitive Embrace A Stream grant. The grants are awarded by an impartial review panel, which evaluates proposals based on the project’s value to the environment, effect on wildlife habitat, chapter commitment and local resources available to support the project, among other criteria.

Submitted by the Pisgah and Land O’ Sky TU chapters, the Cantrell Creek project was the only proposal from the southeast selected to receive Embrace A Stream funding. It was awarded $8,000 and entered in the 2017 Embrace A Stream Challenge.

The challenge took place earlier in November. Donors were asked to designate their gifts to one of 46 worthy projects submitted by chapters from across the nation. Awards were established for key accomplishments: most donors, most money given and most gifts over certain amounts.

The Cantrell Creek project swept the awards and claimed wins in every category, adding $10,600 in award money to the donations received during the challenge and bringing the week’s total to $14,755.

The winnings accounted for more than 20 percent of the total $50,000 in prize money available nationwide.

Dedicated local volunteers, working in partnership with the US Forest Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, will use the grant and challenge proceeds to relocate an existing trail along Cantrell Creek so visitors can enjoy the area without having to walk and bike directly in the streambed.

Relocating the trail will prevent significant amounts of erosion, habitat loss and sediment load in the creek and downstream. The new trail will be built to sustainable standards, ensuring that the natural ecosystem will not suffer from the many who come to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

The monies raised during the Embrace A Stream challenge will be added to the $8,000 in Embrace A Stream grant monies previously awarded, bringing the total raised for the Cantrell Creek project to $22,755.

“We are deeply honored and humbled by the community’s response, and by the generosity of so many friends from across the country who gave and worked to support our efforts,” said Sara Jerome, president of the Pisgah chapter. “Local businesses, particularly our local media outlets, helped spread the word. Our partners at Land O’ Sky worked tirelessly alongside us to get the message out, and the good people of western North Carolina responded the way they always do — with overwhelming generosity.”

Cliff Albertson, president of the Land O’ Sky chapter, was similarly impressed with the public response. “We knew our chapter members would step up to support the project, because they realize how important it is to restore and protect the unique wild trout habitat in the south Mills River,” he said, “and we knew from experience that our communities here in western North Carolina would stand strong for us.”

“What we couldn’t know was just how many people from around the region and across the country would give to support the Cantrell Creek project. It goes to show that people nationwide understand what a special part of the world this is, and how much they care about protecting it. To receive contributions from 10 states, stretching all the way from here to California, speaks volumes.”

Readers are encouraged to follow the progress of the Cantrell Creek project by visiting There will be service opportunities for those interested in lending a hand as a volunteer, and regular updates will be posted once the project, currently in the organization process, is fully underway.

“On behalf of both chapters, Trout Unlimited and Orvis, I’d like to thank the many people and businesses who supported us by sharing our message on social media, forwarding our emails, telling their friends and, of course, giving their hard-earned money to the project,” added Jerome.

“This was a huge community effort, and a huge community win.”