In recognition of his commitment to conserving and sustaining the fish, wildlife and landscapes that define the American West, Trout Unlimited today awarded philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation its prestigious Conservation Leadership Award.
“Hansjörg Wyss has etched a proud legacy in the iconic Western landscapes we all love by helping sportsmen and women protect open lands and healthy fisheries for everyone to experience and enjoy,” said Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood, who announced the award at the organization’s 2013 San Francisco Gala. “With his help, sportsmen will always be able to experience the backcountry solitude of the Wyoming Range, the undeveloped expanses of the Rocky Mountain Front, and the untracked backcountry of the West.”
Wood noted that the Wyss Foundation is one of Trout Unlimited strongest supporters, investing more than $4.2 million over 11 years to help TU protect, reconnect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. In 2013, for example, Mr. Wyss’s philanthropy will help TU and its partners reconnect 1,000 miles of spawning habitat for Atlantic salmon on the Penobscot River in Maine.
“I could not be more proud of the work we have done with Trout Unlimited to preserve the outdoor opportunities and backcountry character of the Rockies,” said Wyss. “There is no better champion for America’s streams and watersheds than Trout Unlimited and the sportsmen and sportswomen they represent. We must continue to work to ensure that future generations will always be able to experience the wildlife and landscapes that are such a central part of the American experience.”
Wyss established the Wyss Foundation in 1998 to help communities, land trusts and landowners forge new partnerships and implement innovative strategies to protect some of the country’s most iconic landscapes – from Montana’s Crown of the Continent to the Wyoming Range – and to ensure they remain open and accessible to all. In 2010, Mr. Wyss’s contributions enabled the transfer of 310,000 acres of former Plum Creek timber land to the U.S. Forest Service and the state of Montana; it is among the largest private conservation purchases in American history. All together, the Wyss Foundation has invested more than $175 million to help local communities, land trusts and non-profit partners conserve nearly 14 million acres in the West for future generations to explore and enjoy.
A native of Switzerland who now lives in Wilson, Wyo., Wyss developed a lifelong love for the Rocky Mountains when he worked for the Colorado Highway Department as a student in 1958. Climbing and hiking in America’s national parks and public lands, he grew to admire a uniquely American idea: that a nation’s iconic landscapes should be protected for everyone to experience and explore.
Mr. Wyss’ first experiences in the West drew him back to the United States to attend the Harvard School of Business, from which he graduated in 1965. With his American education and passion for discovery, he started a successful medical research and design company, headquartered in West Chester, Penn., whose products have helped millions of patients recover from skeletal and soft tissue trauma and injuries. Wyss’s philanthropy aims to foster new ideas, new tools and new collaborations in areas ranging from medicine, education and the arts to economic opportunity, conflict resolution and land conservation.
Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on the TU blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter via @TroutUnlimited.