Salisbury Press

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Wildlands’ chief hopes to create more fish stories

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 by STEPHEN ALTHOUSE Special to The Press in Local News

Did you hear about the one that almost got away?

The date was Nov. 4, 2018. An 11-year-old boy by the name of Jack Kocher went fishing with his dad, Christopher. Armed with weapons designed to make a fish enticed to bite, Jack and his dad came across a real beauty early that morning. But the timing wasn’t right and it remained a glorious object of desire.

Undaunted, the next day they went back even earlier trying to reel in the “big one.” After much skill and patience, this young man hooked and reeled in the object of his desire – a 22 1/2 inch brown trout. This would be no fish story, but rather a big catch.

“This is a moment in nature you just will remember for years,” Christopher Kocher, president of the Wildlands Conservancy, said about the experience.

Jack’s dad isn’t just an avid fisherman or a man who loves nature, although he certainly is both.

Kocher said Wildlands Conservancy is an organization “committed to serving the Lehigh Valley’s conservation and environmental needs.”

The senior Kocher presented an update on Wildlands’ strategic goals during a lunchtime address to the Lehigh County League of Women Voters at the Superior Restaurant in Emmaus.

“Ultimately one of our goals is to be the premiere organization for land protection and environmental stewardship in the region and the Lehigh River watershed,” he told the group.

Another goal established in Wildlands’ 2016-2020 Strategic Plan is to expand environmental educational offerings throughout the region. This includes positioning the organization to grow in Northampton County and the Poconos.

Kocher cited statistics to illustrate this goal was being implemented. During 2018 the organization hosted, taught or served more than 20,000 students. A total of 400 of those students were involved in educational programs and another 600 participated in community programs.

“We have innovative programs to get kids involved in nature,” Kocher said.

Kocher also noted Wildlands is continuing to “dramatically increase the accessibility and acreage of our nine nature preserves.” The director said this was important to his organization because they must “protect the land and restore the ecology.”

While an ambitious agenda, it has a simple motive - to help more Lehigh Valley residents tell their own fish stories.