Leaving a Legacy with Paul Fortino

Haley Walker
Haley Walker
Communications Director for The Freshwater Trust
English   |   Español

Paul Fortino doesn’t remember Michigan as the “Water Wonderland” it’s sometimes called today. Instead, he remembers waste from a nearby tannery floating downstream while he was fishing and more factories than trees lining the banks.

“I remember thinking what a shame it was, and it stuck with me for a long time,” said Fortino. “It wasn’t the pristine state it is now.”

Fortino left Michigan for the Navy in 1967.

“I was stationed out West and never went back,” he said. “While working at
a law office in Seattle, they asked me to move to Portland to kick things off there.”

In 1983, Fortino moved to Oregon to start a branch of the international law firm Perkins Coie. He’s been there since. Along the way, two friends introduced him to fly fishing and the acclaimed trout of the Deschutes.

“They took me there once, and I was immediately hooked,” he said. “It’s really all it took for me to start getting involved.”

Fortino is The Freshwater Trust’s longest standing board member. He served as an advisor as Oregon Trout transitioned to TFT and has been a critical part of ensuring the organization’s financial and programmatic success over the years.

“I was mainly focused on fish and only fish,” he said. “But Joe convinced me that if we took a broader view and care about water at a greater scale, the fish would take care of themselves. I bought it, and somehow the years got by me and here I am at the age of 73 wanting to be even more active.”

“I think that I’m trying to help make sure that this thing that I have loved so much is around and available for generations to come – for when I’m not here any longer,” he said.

“Planned giving is about legacy – the world you leave behind when you’re gone.”

With Fortino’s help through a legacy gift, TFT will have the opportunity to continue working in basins he cares about and has now spent decades fishing, like the Deschutes and the Sandy.

“I’d like to think that we could return to a pristine environment that Lewis and Clark ran into when they came West, but that’s unrealistic,” he said. “It is realistic however that we can spend time and effort in very specific places that have a real chance to be restored.”

That’s part of what has kept him engaged as a board member with TFT for more than two decades.

“TFT’s focus on picking out parts of rivers is part of what keeps me going,” he said.

“If you shoot at a whole flock of ducks, you’re not going to get any of them. You have to pick one out. At the same time, TFT is able to cover a huge swath of freshwater area and many of the places I care about.”

Fortino still fishes the Deschutes and the Sandy – mostly for steelhead.

“For a cynic, steelheading is a chance at optimism,” he said. “When you are out there, you lose yourself. It’s a primal feeling. Hunting. I want other people to continue to experience that … that optimism and sense of wonder.”

For more information on legacy giving, reach out to McCailin Wunder at mccailin@thefreshwatertrust.org or 503-222-9091 x26.

Top image: Mark Golovko

 

November 12, 2019

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