YDCCF Board Approves $45,500 & Announces New Partnership

The Board of YDCCF met on October 30, 2018 and approved another $45,500 for nine new grants to projects in Belize, California, Montana, and Washington. These newest grants are illustrative of YDCCF’s continued commitment to fisheries restoration, protection and education, and community assistance.  Groups funded include the Madison Conservation District in Ennis, Montana; the Wild Salmon Center in Portland Oregon; Gallatin Watershed Council in Bozeman, Montana; Montana Wilderness School in Bozeman, Montana; and Cast Hope in San Diego, California, among others.

In addition, the Board of YDCCF voted unanimously to launch a long term effort in partnership with the Bonefish Tarpon Trust. The effort, Project Belize, is an effort to identify important habitats and locations for conservation in Belize, and use this information to propose fisheries and habitat protections. The project will also help to establish an education program to build public support and understanding of the importance of the flats fishery and flats conservation to the country of Belize. 

YDCCF has also joined the newly formed the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries. The members of the coalition include: Oceana, Turneffe Atoll Trust, Belize Federation of Fishers, Belize Game Fish Association, Belize National Sport Fishing Association, and YDCCF, along with nearly all of the fishing lodges located throughout Belize. The goal of this coalition is to advocate for the phase out and banning of gillnets in Belize. 

Gillnets are indiscriminate and cause significant damage to Belize’s sport fishing industry – an industry providing 2500 – 3000 quality jobs and generating in excess of $100 million dollars annually for Belize’s economy. Gillnets have been banned in several countries and in the US in Florida.  Decision makers in these areas have realized that gillnets are both environmentally unsustainable and economically detrimental. 

Youth Ecology and Wetlands Camp

YDCCF was proud to help support Lucas Bissett and Angler's Benefiting Louisiana's Estuaries (ABLE) to engage local students in environmental education programming that will encourage good environmental stewardship along the community's vulnerable coast. Students gained technical knowledge and hands-on experience regarding local fisheries and the coastal environment.

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Corinne Bird, LSU AgCenter extension associate for youth wetlands, prepares to teach a lesson on water turbidity during a 4-H wetlands camp at Chef Menteur Pass in Orleans Parish. The camp was held July 11-14 and taught the youth about ecosystems, wetland habitats, species diversity and food web relationships. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

Corinne Bird, LSU AgCenter extension associate for youth wetlands, prepares to teach a lesson on water turbidity during a 4-H wetlands camp at Chef Menteur Pass in Orleans Parish. The camp was held July 11-14 and taught the youth about ecosystems, wetland habitats, species diversity and food web relationships. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

Permit Fishing supports the children of Punta Allen, Mexico

Over $12,000 will be given to the Punta Allen Primary School

The 4th Annual Ascension Bay Permit Tournament was held in Punta Allen, Mexico in May 2018.  This tournament is a wonderful way for anglers to participate in a great weekend of fishing and raise awareness and funding for the local primary school.  This is also a great example of anglers giving back to the communities that support their fishing. 

This event is supported by Thomas & Thomas, the Rockwell Foundation, and the Yellow Dog Community & Conservation Foundation. The tournament culminates with a dinner and auction to raise money to support the needs of the community and its children.  This year we are exciting to announce that the tournament raised roughly $10,000 and all funds will be allocated to projects benefitting the Punta Allen Primary School.

Over the years, the Ascension Bay Permit Tournament has provided support to the Punta Allen Primary School in a variety of ways including new computers and handicap equipment.  In 2017, the tournament and YDCCF provided funding to build four working restrooms (previously there was only one working toilet).  This year YDCCF awarded $2,500 and the tournament has raised an additional $10,000 for the schools.  These funds will support three key projects:  restore the roof of the palapa where the children eat lunch; convert a storage room to a computer classroom and purchase computers and other classroom equipment; and expand the landscaping and fill potholes in the road surrounding the school to improve the health and safety of the children.

Hooked: Inspiring Youth, Creating Opportunity

YDCCF has been proud to support the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy with scholarship funding.  Their 2018 classes will begin this week and many students will receive new Orvis fly rods, and catch a fish in their world-class home rivers for the very first time.  They'll also learn customer service, first aid, how to shine in an interview and, perhaps most importantly, impart them with the confidence they’ll need to make a great guide or and see the opportunities that might lie ahead for them in the region’s recreation and tourism industry.  In celebration of of Ten Years of growth and success, and looking to the future of the program, the academy, with help from Fly Out, created a short film-- Hooked: Inspiring Youth, Creating Opportunity.  

Knowing When to Go

Yellow Dog Fly Fishing client, Clint Pike, sent us this blog after visiting Punta Allen, Mexico and learning about YDCCF's efforts to support the local primary school.  In addition to supporting the construction of new bathrooms, YDCCF awarded an additional grant earlier this month. Please visit our grantees page for details.  

Knowing When to Go

It was approaching mid-afternoon when our guides, Alex and Carlos told me to reel up the line, we were heading to another spot.  I glanced over at my girlfriend, Lena, who was smiling under the sun. The salt water gently lapped at the side of our boat as Alex turned over the motor.  I shot Lena a smirk and turned my hat backward just before losing it as the boat shot out across the open water.

We had arrived in Mexico the previous morning.  We were obviously fresh tourists; toting luggage, fishing gear, and glowing with enthusiasm.  A month ago, our trip to Mexico seemed so far away. The temperatures in Bozeman Montana were dangerously cold and snowfall had permanently blanketed our city.  In my classroom, the students were either out with the flu or suffering in their seats, trying their best to respectfully hide their apathy. When March hit, it was obvious, everyone needed a break.  

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Having been a teacher in Montana for seven years, I have become aware of two important things.  During the summer, you stay and over spring break, you go. I am certain that every region of the country has their spring break destination.  In Montana, the long cold, and dark winters drive every adventurous spirit south. Some drive the ten hours to Moab, while others migrate to Southern California, Belize, or Mexico.  

This was my first time visiting Mexico and for the next few days, we would be visiting an area that received little traffic, other than locals and avid fly fisherman.  We were excited to be staying at the Grand Slam Lodge and visiting Punta Allen, a village of around 200 people just south of the lodge. Both sit on a narrow piece of land separating the open ocean from Ascension Bay, a fly fishing mecca providing direct access to the brilliant blue waters surrounding the Yucatan Peninsula.  

The boat danced across the water as Alex transported us to a new location.  We spent the remainder of the day chasing bonefish, snook, and an occasional dodgy permit.  Soon, it was time to pull in our lines and head to the lodge.

When we arrived at the lodge, we were greeted with warm smiles, helping hands, and cold margaritas.  We hustled to our room, quickly dropping our belongings and heading out to the beach to enjoy the remaining few hours of daylight.  Following the shoreline south, we quickly reached the village of Punta Allen. It was evening, quiet and exactly what we were looking for.  As we walked the unpaved roads, the sounds and scents of families preparing for dinner drifted out into the streets. Sometimes when you are on vacation, you forget that others around you aren't.  This evening, we had the privilege of being alone and unobtrusive, which often tends to lend itself to introspection.

We soon found our way to the school, a brightly colored set of buildings in the center of town.  From the outside, the school seemed similar to what I was used to back home. The walls were colorfully painted by the artwork of children. There was a basketball court, playground equipment, outside covered areas, and outside bathrooms.  Since the gate to the school was locked we could go no further and decided to wander our way back to the lodge.

After a full day of fishing and a wonderfully relaxing evening we arranged to visit the schools with Mike from Grand Slam Lodge before our departure.  I was curious to get a closer look. We were greeted at the gate by one of the teachers, she smiled as she welcomed us. Peering in through the windows, I caught a few curious glances from students.  I smiled back, reminded of my classroom waiting for me back in Montana.

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As our tour continued, I was informed that the bathrooms were a new addition and prior to their installation there was one bathroom to service all 53 students in the school. I was shocked.  How could one of the most basic human needs not be being met at a school? As an experienced educator, I understand the challenges in providing for my students a proper education day-to-day, much less trying to teach hungry, tired, and deprived children.  Furthermore, it was great to hear that the new bathroom additions were the results of charitable donations from the Yellow Dog Community & Conservation Foundation. It was encouraging to hear that Yellow Dog is giving back to the community. I look forward to hearing about future community projects.

We loaded up into the truck and headed back to gather our belongings. Mike had arranged boat transportation back to the small dock in Tulum where our trip began. We climbed into our boat, La Tarantulita, and our driver smiled and asked if we were OK taking our time getting back.  Lena answered for the both of us, “We are in no hurry to leave.”