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Conservation Alliance Partner - Redband Rally

Conservation Alliance Partner - Redband Rally

Fishing’s Future was a wonderful Conservation Alliance Partner (CAP), showing us all how our tomorrow can be made better if we work thoughtfully today, educating kids and their families on fishing and environmental stewardship.

Now, for 2021's final CAP, Angler’s looks closer to our home in Western Washington—across the lands, depending on how one travels, of the Tulalip, Snoqualmie, Muckleshoot, Colville to the Spokane Tribe of Eastern Washington. There we find the Redband Rally Campaign, which was created by the Spokane Indians Baseball Team, with the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the City of Spokane, to honor Spokane’s signature fish, the native Redband trout. 

This beautiful subspecies of rainbow trout is native to the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Spokane River. These waters wind through the land of the Spokane Tribe’s ancestors: northeastern Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Known as a river people, the Spokane Tribe relied heavily on fishing, with food from the rivers making up the majority of their diet.

Inspired by this history and compelled by today’s environmental concerns, the Spokane Indians Baseball Team led the creation of the Redband Rally Campaign in 2017 to protect and keep the river clean and the Redband trout healthy and numerous. Players, baseball fans, anglers, and the community have all been doing their part to support the campaign: New Redband uniforms, auctioned off at the end of each season, and Redband merchandise available year-round help raise funds. A new team mascot, named Ribby the Redband Trout, has joined two dinosaur and one Recycle Man superhero mascots. Ribby and his minnow friends appear during every game’s sixth inning to educate sports fans about the river and their role in keeping it fun and healthy—and to lead the cheers toward victory!

The Redband Rally Fund, managed by the baseball team as well as local and governmental environmental groups (including the Spokane River Keeper, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Spokane Tribal Fisheries Department, and Trout Unlimited Spokane Falls Chapter), has funded everything from rewards for identifying illegal fishing to scholarships for education days on the Spokane River and from cleanup and tree-planting projects to river-focused art and paddling activities.

The Redband Rally Campaign is not the first collaboration between the Spokane Indians Baseball Team and the Spokane Tribe of Indians. It is the continuation of a partnership that puts the tribe and its members’ concerns at the forefront. In 2006, the team reached out to the tribe to discuss the team’s name, which it had held for a hundred years. Together, they decided the name could stay but that a connection like few others in the sports world should form. The team’s commitment to Redband trout is one example of it asking about the tribe’s needs and responding. Another is the team putting Salish language translations on stadium signs; ballplayer jerseys read, Sp’q’n’i (“Spokane”). Carol Evans, chairperson of the Spokane Tribal Business Council, told the New York Times this past September, “We are not their mascot. They’re named after our tribe.”

The Redband Rally Campaign also fits well with the City of Spokane’s environmental mission. One of the City’s big focuses is the Spokane River. New combined sewer overflow (CSO) tanks around the city redirect untreated overflow from stormwater and the sewer system from flowing directly into the Spokane River and instead going to the Water Reclamation Facility for treatment. 

As I type this post, the front office staff of the Spokane Indians Baseball Team is enjoying Angler’s Coffee. I hear this update from Otto Klein, who is both senior vice president of the team and president of the local Trout Unlimited chapter. In these roles, he serves as a great example of baseball fans and fly fishers coming together to support a natural resource that we all enjoy. Having grown up fishing in Montana, Klein now can often be seen on the Spokane River in his fly fishing raft—which features the Redband Rally Campaign logo, of course. “Redbands are super fun to catch, hard fighting and really give your rod a bend,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have them in the Spokane River.” I agree, and Angler’s is fortunate to add a financial contribution to the Redband Rally Campaign.


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