Kelly Bostian: LaFortune trout pond in need of donations to continue stockings
BY KELLY BOSTIAN Outdoors
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
10/09/12 at 5:52 AM
Go to Kelly Bostian's blog Original Print Headline: Trout pond in need of donations
For four years, the Trout Pond for Tulsa has provided wintertime fun for kids in a convenient, safe location. Traditions have been passed along and youngsters with new Christmas-gift fishing gear have caught their first fish right there at the pond in The Gardens at LaFortune Park.
But the fun may be short-lived this season.
Members of the local Trout Unlimited-Tulsa Fly Fishers group and NatureWorks kept the trout pond going, but money is running low this year. The trout group had to cut back on its donation.
It has been dipping into a bank of funds set aside for stream restoration work on the lower Illinois River, said Trout Unlimited/TFF President Scott Hood. That funding source worked because stream improvement projects have been on hold while the lower Illinois water shortage issues bubbled along, but the source is tapped and needs to be rebuilt. Over four years, the nonprofit has put $16,000 into the trout pond.
"That well is runnin' dry," Hood said.
Years ago the thinking was that, by this time, a corporate sponsor would have stepped up or people who use the pond would have offered to donate more cash on an annual basis, he said. "Silly us."
NatureWorks has been the anchor and has again offered to donate up to $3,000 in a dollar-for-dollar match for the pond, Hood said.
The Fly Fishers held a trout pond fundraiser last spring that raised $1,000, so, with the NatureWorks match, $2,000 is available for the trout pond this year. That would provide one stocking of roughly 850 fish, Hood said.
"Regardless of what happens with funding overall, we will do that one stocking and the pond would open on Christmas Day," Hood said. "What happens after that, I don't know. We may stock it the one time and that would be it. We would be done."
Requests from those who use the pond to donate have gone largely unanswered over the years.
"I still think a lot of people assume or just don't understand that the pond is not a state Wildlife Department or government thing provided by your fishing license purchase," Hood said. "It has all been privately donated dollars."
To operate the pond as it has been the past few years, the fishing group needs to raise another $2,000 by mid-December and get the full NatureWorks match. It takes at least $6,000 to stock the pond three times, as it has been in the past.
Tulsa Fly Fishers reached out to its membership to request they "become one of the 1 percent," Hood said. If 100 people donate $20 each it will raise the necessary additional $2,000 and gain the needed matching dollars.
"I've always wished we could find a corporate sponsor," Hood said. "Naturally they would be named a sponsor in everything we put out there."
He pointed out the group is a nonprofit and all donations are tax deductible.
Frankly, the pond could use even more money. The price of the stocked fish has risen from $4.25 to $4.75 per pound in four years and could cost more this winter. In a mild winter like last year the pond gets fished out in fairly short order after each stocking. The $6,000 should be considered a bare minimum.
"If we had more money, we would be happy to invest all that into fish and get it back up to what it was four years ago," Hood said.
In a community as rich in fishing tradition as is Tulsa, it seems $2,000 shouldn't be that hard to come up with for a program that gets kids outdoors and fishing during the Christmas and spring breaks.
Got $20? Send it to Trout Unlimited Oklahoma Chapter, P.O. Box 54108, Tulsa, OK 74155.