We all knew for some time Friends of Trinity River was winding down. A recent conference call confirmed the end of 2010 was the proper time to conclude operations. However the full impact did not hit me until I read the hard copy letter I received in the mail last Friday. I emotionally reflected back on many of the past experiences and challenges we encountered in great detail. I can easily say my association and small contribution with FOTR was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. It taught me- You can make a difference and FOTR did. Thanks to you and your continued support FOTR achieved its primary objective—obtaining an Interior-Secretarial Decision that returned almost half the Trinity River’s original, pre-dam water flows (47 percent) back to the river to create a more healthy river and fishery and much more.
FOTR was founded in 1992 and was a successful organization consisting of a loyal membership, roughly 1700 active, from all walks of life willing to volunteer their time and efforts fulfilling the mission; “preserve and protect the Trinity River and its fisheries.” However FOTR would have never happened without the strength and direction from one man—Byron Leydecker. Byron’s relentless dedication, professional leadership and clear vision were FOTR’s driving force. His unique style, passion and approach blended together to formulate an effective work force that strategized and implemented a broad spectrum successful Trinity River campaigns; ultimately achieving a monumental flow decision for the Trinity River. (Please, refer to letter accomplishments). Through leadership, oversight, dominate knowledge and outstanding performance Byron has also received the following awards: Salmon Restoration Federation-“Restorationist Of The Year”-1996, California Trout-Joe Paul Award-2000, Marin Conservation League-Ted Wellman Water Award-2005, California Trout- Roderick Haig-Brown Award-2006…
Too much too soon—Strangely enough also last Friday I received an e-mail from Tom Weseloh indicating after 20 plus years with California Trout, December 10 would be his last day. Tom was the North coast Manager in the Regional Office in McKinleyville and also served on the board of FOTR for 17 plus yrs…he has devoted his lifestyle to preserving, protecting and restoring watersheds and fisheries. Along with numerous Trinity issues Tom helped established Trinity County’s first special managed waters—Trinity River’s “Fly Only” waters (Zero Limit-Catch & Release). A true sportsman, avid angler and hunter, nobody has fought harder and engaged in the trenches longer, with more knowledge, passion, and commitment. Not a sad story and total loss, Tom accepted a position as the consultant to the California Legislative Joint Committee on Fishing and Aquaculture chaired by Assemblyman Wes Chesbro. Right on and congratulations Tom!
Byron and Tom will be greatly missed. So next time when stepping in your favorite Trinity and other northcoast waters, tip the hat and give thanks to these two giants that have relentlessly strived to fight for the betterment of our fisheries and resources.