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Walsh noted that anglers have always been among the nation's first wave of conservationists, and with options to felt now on the market, anglers had a responsibility to both the resource and the tradition of angling to cease their use of felt.
"We know felt is not the only material that has spread invasive species and disease," Walsh said, "but felt is surely part of the problem. At Simms, we’ve decided to be part of the solution."
Late last week, national conservation leader Trout Unlimited asked at its annual meeting that wading boot manufacturers phase out felt by 2011. Simms is eager to lead the charge.
Walsh's announcement comes as Simms unveils the world’s first fishing-specific Vibram-soled wading boots. For 2009, Simms will offer six boot models, a wading sandal and a wading shoe with soles featuring Vibram® Streamtread™ soles. Additionally, Simms boots and waders are designed with "CleanStream™ technology," a design philosophy that uses materials and production techniques making it more difficult for microorganisms to attach and makes wading gear easier to properly clean.
Simms and Vibram have worked together to produce an ultra-grippy, super-sticky rubber sole that works as well as felt in virtually all wet and aquatic conditions. The partnership between Vibram and Simms has resulted in a boot that combines the best performance features of felt with the environmental benefits of rubber. The new soles have been field tested extensively.
New Zealand has placed a ban on felt boots for the upcoming 2008 season. A number of U.S. states where aquatic nuisance species are found have reportedly discussed the possibility of outlawing felt-soles.
Additionally, Simms has agreed to work with conservation organizations and other companies within the fishing industry to develop a certification process to highlight gear designed to help prevent the spread of ANS and disease.
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