Dear Trout Unlimited

Dear Trout Unlimited,

I am a grateful member of your organization and deeply appreciate the work you’re doing to keep public lands intact. But, I would like to suggest that you rally your base in a different way. Context below.

Who Are We?
I’m one of four writers for a blog at BlogFlyFish.com. We are run by volunteers. In a short period of time, we currently are on a run rate to have 200,000+ page views a year, all through word-of-mouth and organic search.

One of us already has written a great post about the current public land transfer initiative. Link here.

I’m greatly alarmed that, since then, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah has introduced two House bills (here and here) to get the ball rolling.

Yikes.

Tactics
I appreciate TU’s link that lets us easily email our elected representative. But, I read some advice online from a D.C. insider that emails are useless.

I’ll copy the data at the bottom of the post, but, the short answer is that this individual recommends calling a Congress-person’s local office. Don’t email, don’t Tweet, and don’t call the D.C. office. Call the local one.

My Two Cents
So, my suggestions are as follows:

  • Can TU modify its web site to show the local office numbers for Congress?
  • How about a “calling campaign,” whereby you pick a day or a week and encourage your members to call and overwhelm a local office’s capacity?
  • How about we all call Rep. Chaffetz’s local office on a particular day? The number there in Provo, UT, is (801) 851-2500.

I hope that we can rally the resources to keep public lands as a public good.

Thank you for listening….

____________________

Here is the information from the D.C. insider:

I see a lot of you saying that you’ve written to your Congressmen about this and I wanted to let you know that emails and letters to Congress are rather useless in changing their minds on policy issues.

If you really want to make a difference you need to make an actual phone call. It’s best to call the local state offices, not the ones in D.C. Letters and email are generally just glanced at for certain keywords to let the person know what issue you’re writing about, then you’re usually sent a form letter reply (for emails this is actually done with computer algorithms). With most Congressmen, Senators especially, they just get too many letters and emails to really take in the substance of the concerns.

Phone calls actually tie up a person for the entire duration of the call, which if you take the time to explain yourself can be quite a while. And if the Congressman walks through the phone room while all the interns are on calls and the phone is still ringing, they’ll know something big is up.

The offices in D.C. mostly just have interns and very low level staffers answering the phones, because that’s the office that most people call. If you call one of the local offices, you’re more likely to get someone other than an intern, and they’ll be better positioned to push your message. If enough people keep calling a local office, there’s a good chance you can tie up the staff on the phones for much of the day, and you can be sure the Congressman will hear about that.

 

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13 thoughts on “Dear Trout Unlimited

  1. Thanks for posting, I'm glad that this is something that is getting some coverage. You're absolutely right, calling is the way to go on this. Be a thorn in their sides, and don't let them sell off our trout waters like the way they intend too!

    Scott

  2. Follow up, did you send this to any staff of TU? All their organizers, even CEO Chris Wood, are very accesible, and I'm sure would appreciate this input. Having a bunch of members call on one day so that the phone rang for 12 hours straight would really be something!

    Scott

  3. Oh boy. Seems Christian Fichtel at the SCOT blog might have started a recent trend of bloggers publishing open letters to TU.

    Good advice, though. If you really care about this issue, you need to go all in and make sure legislators hear you. Signing a petition in large numbers does get attention. Writing checks to support conservation organizations helps too; but there's nothing like annoying the hell out of them with a barrage of pressure via phone calls.

    1. Do two letters qualify as a trend? Lol. But well said Ontherocks. There is certainly some value to large petitions.

      Jo, I'd be interested to hear if you heard back from Chris or anyone else. I actually really like this idea… even if one member per chapter was on board and willing to make a call, all those on one day would make a mark. And ideally with this issue there'd be plenty of action, maybe give several different senators calls. You can pretty much guess who is likely to vote against public lands… hit them all, day by day.

      Scott

    2. Scott, I couldn't find Chris' email but he has a Twitter handle and I sent the link to the post. No reply.

      TU on Facebook did get back to me, saying that in a few days they're going to change the web site to try to make it easier to contact Congress people. No reaction to the post's suggestion to do a coordinated calling campaign.

      Does anyone out there know Chris Wood or any of the senior people listed here: http://www.tu.org/about-tu/staff-board-directory/senior-staff.

      I would love an email intro, if so.

    3. Scott, I just found Chris' email and have written to him. Any intro from a blog reader would be great, though, as I'm sure he is flooded with emails and a "warm intro" would help greatly….

    4. Scott, I hope I didn't sound cynical! Two letters making a trend? Why not? We need all the attention we can get on this issue.

      Jo, this issue means a lot to me, too, so thanks for taking a stand. I am glad you, Troy and Adam have been so supportive. This fight is going to need a lot of advocates. I know we all like to read about fishing but I do hope to see this blog continuing to focus a spot light on this issue!

    5. Not at all! Not sure why, just thought that was funny.

      Anyhow, yeah this definitely needs the press. Jo, not sure what you mean by "intro"? I'm sure Chris will get back eventually, he always does. I'm the meantime, his cell is somewhere available with a Google search as are the emails of some other senior staff.

      Scott

    6. Scott, sometimes, with famous people, an intro from a known and mutual contact can pave the way. He must get many messages, and so, I was hoping someone who knows him already can make an email intro to me.

      No word back yet from him, but I will stay hopeful.

  4. Thanks for the great post and good counsel. As it turns out, we have the TU board of directors in town today, and I will be part of a team bringing them to Capitol Hill to meet with their Members of Congress. Calls are indeed better than email messages, but face-to-face meetings are the best!

    Stay tuned to tu.org, as we are unveiling anew advocacy center to try and help harness the passion anglers have for keeping public lands in public hands; maintaining the protections of the clean water act; protecting Bristol Bay; and maintaining conservation funding. I am certain other issues will also arise that require us to raise our voices. And yes, we will also provide phone number, and options for people to call rather than FB, tweet, or write. That is good counsel.

    A final word, this is not a new issue. Here are two pieces I did on the issue that book-end 22 years!
    1. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19950528&slug=2123370.
    2. http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/it-only-took-one-day.

    I have likened this effort to steal our birthright as analogous to the cicada emergence from the earth every 17 years. Our job is to beat this bone-headed proposal back with every ounce of energy we can.

    Keep up the good fight,

    Chris

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