Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Position On Our Responsibility

Okay, I'm not sure why I feel led to make this post other than to impress upon our readers the commitment we have to the precious resources we all love and use to one degree or another and the heartfelt passion we have for not only passing along our tradition to the next generation, but to helping ensure that generation has access to quality resources.  I realize that this may only be read by one or two of our friends but I'm stating it regardless.

In the past week, I have posted a couple of things on Facebook regarding issues that we hold near and dear to our core, the most recent being a link to a blog post by the President of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (which Unicoi belongs to).  It concerned the proposal by the White House to  invest $450 million in the Land and Water Conservation Fund for fiscal year 2013.  From the comments I received, you would have thought I was advocating a ban on moms, baseball and apple pie as we all goose step off into the future.  Not because they were opposed to the LWCF.  There wasn't even an indication any of them even know what it is.  Their ire was directed at me and the president of AFFTA for being so blind as to not see the dangers of giving President Obama credit for trying to do something positive.  We live in the most amazing country that has ever been conceived.  Somehow we continue to be the strongest nation in the world while very little over 50% of the voting public ever supports one party or the other.  I've always thought it grand that almost half the country will disagree with one candidate, or party, or the other and yet, we put our shoulders to the grindstone after every election and keep working hard to move forward.  Interesting, isn't it.  Regardless of who you vote for and who's policies you support, half the people in our country disagree with you!  So please, no more attempts to use our Facebook page for political commentary.  Just remember, one of every two people who read your vitriol (liberal or conservative) are going to disagree with you.  And beyond that, they probably don't care what your personal opinions are and you have almost a zero chance of convincing them otherwise.  Whew!  Feels good to get that off my chest.

A little history here only because it was the issue du jour.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress back in 1964.  It's sole purpose was to use mitigation money collected from offshore oil and gas drilling for projects which would benefit the American public:  specifically to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities.  These were not taxpayer dollars.  The Fund had broad bipartisan support in Congress (yeah, imagine that!).  For almost 50 years now, the funds have been being collected and deposited into the U. S. Treasury to the tune of $900 million each year.  Guess what!  Every year, with the exception of 2 of the 50, Congress has raided the LWCF cookie jar and spent it on their own pet programs.  Now, Congress passed the LWCF legislation, even wrote it up to declare that it was to only be used for the specific purposes mentioned above, but habitually took the money and used it elsewhere.  They stole our LWCF money and continue to do so!

So here's where I am.  As long as I'm one of the owners of Unicoi Outfitters, I will continue to focus of being a good steward and a good conservationist and will share whatever information available that I feel is important and noteworthy in this area.  The LWCF issue happens to be one of them.  I may be taking a stance but I may also simply be passing along information of interest to other anglers and conservationists.  Verbally slamming me and those I work with can be done on a private level if you feel absolutely bound to tell me how unpatriotic I am for giving the President (any president) a platform.  I'll be more than happy to discuss with you how blessed I feel I am to be an American, the dedication I have in my business as well as my personal life to helping create a better life for servicemen both on active duty (that's part of how I earn my living and I'm proud of it) and those who have sacrificed their bodies and their lives in our defense.  You can reach me through the shop phone or email.

Until then, I plan to concentrate on positive things like teaching kids and adults about the outdoors I have loved and respected for as long as I can remember being aware of them.  I hope I can instill some of the same awe in you.  Thanks for allowing me to vent.



  1. Keep spreading the word on important conservation and stewardship issues.

    LWCF protects our land while bringing money and jobs to Georgia. Over the past 40 years Georgia has received over $285 million from LWCF funding land acquisition in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, Cumberland Island and other public lands. LWCF has done more than any other program to expand the systems of local parks, recreational green spaces and public lands enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans. Sportsmen have long been natural supporters of land conservation have consistently supported LWCF projects, often raising local funds to match and support federal spending on the conservation of our most pristine and valuable streams and rivers. For every LWCF dollar that comes to Georgia, five dollars are matched by state, local and private sources. Wildlife associated recreation brings in $3.5 billion per year in Georgia, and full funding for LWCF would help us grow that number and protect Georgia’s legacy of clean water and conservation land for hunting and fishing.

    Political infighting hurts all of us in the long-run.

    Kevin F. McGrath
    Chairman, GA TU Back-the-Brookie
    President, Upper Chattahoochee TU

  2. Bravo !!!! People just dont get it, negativity never gets us anywhere. We all need to focus on doing something that is positive. PLEASE continue to keep us informed.

  3. You have shared really informative and interesting post i will like to say thanks and also request you to keep post that kind of stuff in your more posts.

  4. Whoa, I'm behind here by a few months, but am reading this on a breather moment as I sit at my desk. It's funny how when you stand up for our beautiful, natural habitats people are quick to call you a hairy legged liberal. Well, Jimmy, you might be hairy legged, but it's meant to be an insult to a woman like myself. I couldn't agree more and as I sit at a desk on a beautiful day like today I can smile knowing that there are people in my own family and all over this country that will fight hard to keep what beauty we do have alive for those of us who can only get to it on the weekends. Everything is not about politics and parties. Land is land and if there's one thing in the South that I know is true it's that we all love our land. Running through a creek, fishing on a river, hiking through the mountains... whatever floats your boat won't be there forever if you don't stand up for it, literally. Those hills don't have a voice and someone has to speak up. Glad you're doing it! Love, Katie Harmon