TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation
Hometown: Birdsboro, Pa
Occupation: Full-time human resources professional and part-time flyfishing writer, photographer, and custom fly-tier and instructor
Conservation Credentials: Helped to preserve working lands, environmentally sensitive areas, and outdoor recreation opportunities—like fishing and birdwatching—for future generations through various roles in local government
Henry Ramsay considers himself a torchbearer for the natural resources that have allowed him to spend a lifetime fishing, hiking, camping, taking photographs, and finding solace in the outdoors. His efforts to preserve public lands and waters for the next generation of sportsmen and women remind us that you don’t have to sit on a congressional committee or in the Oval Office to make a big difference for conservation. There’s a lot we can influence in our home towns and counties, if we care enough.
Here’s his story.
I caught my first trout at the age of five, and I was hooked about as well as that fish was. Fortunately, I also grew up in a family that constantly traveled and camped. I’ve always been attracted to the outdoors—more because of my love of nature than anything else. It’s not only a source of recreation; it’s a place of peace and contentment, so I fish, camp, hike, and take photographs as much as my time permits.
Of course, as a flyfisherman, a nice fly rod is one of my favorite pieces of gear and elevates the experience of being outdoors, but my DSLR camera is perhaps just as important. It’s always with me to capture images from my best experiences on the water.
I had plenty of those on a recent trip to Yellowstone, which was a lifelong dream of mine. We tent-camped in the park, fished 10 different streams and rivers, and hiked into a glacial lake to fish for Arctic grayling. During the day, we saw bison, elk, antelope, wolves, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. At night, we were serenaded by bugles and howls.
It was an incredible experience that stands out even after a lifetime of travels.
I’m fortunate to have fished in a number of states, but if forced to choose one it would be Idaho. The scenery is spectacular and the fishing is world-class. I love the Henry’s Fork where it flows through the Harriman Ranch. The fishing there is highly technical and challenging—I like that it forces me to be on form.
I’m primarily a trout fisherman, and you can’t find trout in environments that have been compromised by point-source pollutants, toxic runoff, or other things that detract from water quality. Wild trout simply can’t exist in less than high-quality water conditions—and that’s why clean water powers my outdoor life.
In a world where the human population is growing at a rapid pace, it is critical that we continue to examine our impact on the earth, the natural world, and all of the lifeforms we share it with. People alter the environment, and the choices we make can affect the environment positively or negatively—forever.
To leave my mark, I’ve been involved in various roles in local government, where I’ve been fortunate enough to help shape how our lands and waters are used. For example, collaborative work helped to permanently preserve the Birdsboro Waters, a 1,800-acre tract of unbroken forest within the Hopewell Big Woods of southeastern Pennsylvania. This is an important birding area, and Hay Creek, an exceptional trout stream, flows through it. I was part of the advisory body that defeated a proposed 800-unit residential development on 201 acres bisected by a state-designated coldwater trout stream. I also helped to create an Environmental Advisory Council in my township to review and consult on proposed land development activities.
Not all of the footprints left on the earth are made by feet—many of them are a result of our choices. My hope is that improvements made to public lands and waters during my lifetime won’t be easily erased by politics and profiteers. We need to leave healthier habitat for future generations.
This is why I concern myself with the deregulation of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Antiquities Act. These rollbacks pose a huge threat to all of the efforts that have taken place since the early 1970s.
The other challenge I see is the lack of involvement and education of our youth in the outdoors. When I can no longer carry the torch to defend what we treasure, I hope a new generation of torchbearers can take my place. But too many children today do not get the exposure to the outdoors that they’d need to be sensitive to conservation issues. It’s a threat to fishing and the places where we fish.