Old Pueblo TU was granted a charter on March 12, 1987. The first Chapter President was Rueben “Bud” Hill, who remained a member of OPTU until late-2016. There is no record of the initial Chapter membership, but today the Chapter is more than 480 members, and covers all Southern Arizona, from Yuma to Safford.
OPTU’s signature conservation effort is the restoration of the West Fork of the Black River below the White Mountain Apache Reservation boundary on Mt. Baldy to the confluence of the West Fork with the East Fork, some 15 miles downstream. Largely through the efforts of OPTU member Jim Lynch, an agreement involving many stakeholders – ranchers, US Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife Service, various conservation groups, and recreational users – was reached concerning the scope and schedule of this restoration project, with the goal of re-introducing Apache trout, an endangered species, to their historic waters. This multi-year project involved thousands of hours of volunteer labor from many groups, and thousands of dollars of financing from TU Embrace-a-Stream grants and Chapter fundraising banquets to augment federal and state money. In the late-1990’s, Apache trout were restocked in the West Fork, a project successfully completed.
More recently, OPTU has been involved in waters closer to Tucson. OPTU has entered into Partnership Waters agreements with Arizona Game and Fish for Grant Creek and Frye Creek, both in the Pinaleño Mountains in southeastern Arizona. In addition, OPTU is doing some in-stream temperature monitoring in the Chiricahua Mountains. Data from those monitors may help determine whether any of the streams there are suitable for re-introduction of Gila trout someday.