Lovells Township, Trout Unlimited unveil monument on opening day of trout season
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Trout Unlimited (TU) and Lovells Township, joined by dozens of fly fishing enthusiasts and other supporters, honored Arthur C. Neumann – a longtime angler, conservationist, and, according to many, a vital part of the survival of TU as an organization during its early days – with the unveiling of a monument near the Lovells Museum of Trout Fishing on Saturday (the first day of trout fishing season this year).
Glen Eberly of the Lovells Township Historical Society, first speaker during Saturday’s ceremony, called Neumann “wild trout’s best friend.”
This quote from Neumann is included on the monument: “We believe that trout fishing isn’t just fishing for trout. It’s fishing for sport rather than for food where the true enjoyment of the sport lies in the challenge, the lore and the battle of wits, not necessarily the full creel. It’s the feeling of satisfaction that comes from limiting your kill instead of killing your limit. It’s communing with nature where the chief reward is a refreshed body and a contented soul, where a license is a permit to use – not abuse, to enjoy – not destroy our trout waters. It’s subscribing to the proposition that what’s good for trout is good for trout fishermen and that managing trout for the trout rather than for the trout fishermen is fundamental to the solution of our trout problems. It’s appreciating our trout, respecting our fellow anglers and giving serious thought to tomorrow.”
Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Executive Director of Michigan Trout Unlimited, spoke about Neumann’s “grassroots” efforts with TU, building the group’s numbers, and “the ripple effect” of his work.
“Trout Unlimited was founded on the banks of the AuSable River in 1959,” according to TU. “In reviewing the organization’s early records, it becomes very clear that, when momentum slowed and times seemed uncertain, it was Art Neumann’s singular vision and evangelical zeal that provided the spark necessary to galvanize the membership and overcome obstacles as they popped up. During Art’s two-plus years as TU’s executive director, he propelled the organization to national prominence by doubling the size of the organization through the addition of 30 new chapters.”
Burroughs said upon reading some of Neumann’s writing from 50 years ago, he was “struck by how relevant it still is today.”
“Art had the ability to bring so many people to the effort of conservation,” Burroughs said.
Robert Nelson, a member of the TU Mershon Chapter who spoke during the ceremony on Saturday, said Neumann took two years away from his normal life to “save Trout Unlimited,” and Nelson hopes people will join him in supporting an effort to make Neumann a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
“He may get it during his lifetime, he may get it after his lifetime, he may never get it at all, but he deserves it,” Nelson said.
Tom Quail, State Chairman of Michigan Trout Unlimited, said TU plans to bring back a scholarship program that the organization conducted in the past and rename it as the “Art Neumann Memorial Fund.”
“We haven’t funded that in quite a while,” Quail said.
Quail said the effort would be “restricted funds for youth education, diversity initiatives, and chapter development.”
“When (Neumann) started those 30 chapters (of Trout Unlimited), that’s what he was doing,” Quail said.
Quail unveiled a framed print of a work depicting Neumann fishing, saying that TU plans to sell the original photo, 100 signed prints of an artist’s rendering of the photo, and other digital copies in order to raise money for the fund.
Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited National, was the final speaker for the ceremony.
Wood said Neumann’s “legacy reaches across the country.”
“Art had this wonderful idea to marry passion of fishing with conservation,” Wood said.
Wood ended his speech with a story. Wood met Neumann a few months before he passed away. Wood said on his way out, Neumann punched him in the leg and said: “Remember, you gotta keep the fight up for trout.”
“The memorial is phenomenal,” Wood said a couple days after the ceremony. “Art’s children and a grandchild attended, as well as over 100 guests. Art would be pleased with the growth of his vision for Trout Unlimited – a professional staff of over 230 people, 160,000 volunteers, and 400 chapters. Art was our evangelizer in chief, and the monument is the testament to the durability of his vision.”