March 30, 2023
Who will be the 2024 Conservationist of the Year?
If you know someone who has made outstanding efforts in protecting or enhancing local watersheds, nominate them below or email your nomination to email@example.com.
If that person organizes river cleanups, negotiates for improved streamflows, or campaigns against threatening industrial developments . . . we need to hear about it! That person’s outstanding volunteerism could result in a $10,000 CHECK FROM SIMMS FISHING PRODUCTS. The funds will go to the nonprofit organization selected by the 2024 Conservationist of the Year.
Nominations close Aug. 1, 2023.
Gary Horvath 2023
Upon moving to River Falls, Wisconsin in 1988, Fly Fisherman's Conservationist of the Year for 2023 Gary Horvath almost immediately got involved in the local Kiap-TU-Wish Trout Unlimited Chapter, a name derived from a portmanteau of letters from the Kinnickinnic, Apple, Willow, and Rush rivers. Horvath has been on the board of Kiap-TU-Wish since 1989, and temperature monitoring on the Kinni began in 1991. Since then, he has been treasurer, secretary, and served two times as president. He is now the vice-president. In the time that Horvath has been a board member, the group has done stream restoration projects on the Willow, Kinnickinnic, South Fork of the Kinnickinnic, Parker Creek, Rush River, Tiffany, Eau Galle, and Pine Creek. He also led the committee to successfully remove Mounds Dam on the Willow River.
In all his many roles, his focus has always been the Kinni, which flows through his home town of River Falls. Thanks to his more than three decades of effort—and dozens of others who have worked alongside Horvath—the lower dam on the Kinni is now condemned, and the only decision left to make about the upper dam is whether to remove it first or second—the Army Corps feasibility study will answer that question soon enough.
Richard May 2022
Fly Fisherman's 2022 Conservationist of the Year Richard May was a founding member of California Trout and CalTrout president for 20 years. His contributions to the fishing and conservation community have helped define what fisheries conservation means, and have inspired generations of anglers to become activists. May, along with a small group of like-minded fly fishers, heard stories of a mindset that favored wild trout and healthy rivers. So they ended up forming the very first Trout Unlimited chapter on the West Coast, the Bay Area Chapter. Under the banner of this new organization, they set out to find projects to benefit wild trout. May and CalTrout pioneered wild trout management and fought against the creation of new dams in the 1960s and 1970s, which set the stage for many of the conservation ethics we hold today. Read the full article about May here.
Charlie Charlesworth 2021
The 2021 Conservationist of the Year is Charlie Charlesworth of Pennsylvania. His efforts to restore the once toxic Lackawanna River have resulted in a complete restoration and management of a now thriving population of trout. Charlesworth started Lackawanna Valley TU (lackawannavalleytu.org) to work with existing organizations to improve the overall water quality and increase and manage trout populations. Not only did Charlesworth get the new chapter off the ground, he has served as a board member, vice president, and then president during the chapter’s most pivotal years. His 30-plus year passion for conservation and youth education has helped many of Pennsylvania’s waterways and will continue to do so for years to come. Read his full list of accomplishments here.
Peter Moyle 2020
Fly Fisherman's 2020 Conservationist of the Year Peter Moyle served on the board of directors at Western Rivers Conservancy during its successful campaign to create the Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary. The nonprofit purchased 47,000 acres of temperate rainforest in the Klamath watershed and conveyed it to California’s Yurok Tribe in February 2018, protecting Blue Creek from the Siskiyou Wilderness all the way to its confluence with the Klamath River. In Moyle's tenure, the group also purchased the 211-acre Swiftwater County Park in Oregon and transferred the land to the BLM for protection within the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River Corridor. Western Rivers Conservancy also protected ten miles of the John Day River and nine miles of Thirtymile Creek, creating Oregon's Cottonwood Canyon State Park.
Joe Hemming 2019
As the volunteer president of the Anglers of The Au Sable, Joe Hemming filed a lawsuit against a private fish farm that threatened to pollute a 9-mile catch-and-release section of the Au Sable River known as the Holy Waters. Hemming forced a settlement out of court, and his $10,000 Conservationist of the Year Award will help Anglers of the Au Sable's continued efforts to protect the river.
Sandy Moret 2018
Moret was the first president of the Everglades Protection Association, and a founder of the #NoworNeverglades Declaration. Because of Moret’s active role in protecting the Everglades, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust received $5,000 toward its work in Florida estuaries and saltwater flats.
Rich Simms 2017
His volunteer work resulted in catch-and-release sportfishing regulations for all wild steelhead in Washington State. Because of his efforts, Wild Steelhead Coalition received $10,000 to reduce the impacts of stocked fish in rivers with wild steelhead, combat habitat loss, and remove man-made barriers to migration.