Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

tenkara, conservation, communications, politics

Key grip and trout wrangler at the Middle River Group, LLC. Playing Doc Holliday to the Wyatt Earps of the fish and wildlife conservation world. Government and Public Relations consultant, tenkara fly-fisherman, freelance outdoor writer, AFFTA Board member

Clips: June 2017

WaPo Opinion: The destruction of political norms started decades ago. Here’s how it happened.

Troutbitten – A Slidable Dry Dropper System

Clips: May 2017

Land Conservation
50 Years Ago, This Was a Wasteland. He Changed Everything | Short Film Showcase

Marine Resources
Dock to Dish brings seafood directly to the restaurant door

Clips: April 2017

How to run a meeting like the Secretary of Defense

Public Lands
LA Times: Op-Ed The Bundy family and followers are on trial again. Win or lose in court, theirs is a lost cause

LA Times: Here are the national monuments being reviewed under Trump’s order

Outdoor Life: An Open Letter to Secretary Zinke on National Monuments

Field and Stream: The Battle Over Public Lands and Public Lands Flow Chart

Can States Protect our Waters?

New school would turn fishing guides into knowledge guides

WaPo: Nearly 200 million chickens, turkeys and cows are making a mess of the Shenandoah River

Marine Debris Bill Introduced

The War On Pirate Fishing

Want to get rid of or repair outdoor gear? Repair Lair may be your place

VOX: Comedians have figured out the trick to covering Trump

LA Times Editorial series about President Trump
1) Our Dishonest President
“The United States is not a perfect country, and it has a great distance to go before it fully achieves its goals of liberty and equality. But preserving what works and defending the rules and values on which democracy depends are a shared responsibility. Everybody has a role to play in this drama.”

2) Why Trump lies
“Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.”

3) Trump’s Authoritarian Vision
“Trump betrays no sense for the president’s place among the myriad of institutions in the continuum of governance. He seems willing to violate long-established political norms without a second thought, and he cavalierly rejects the civility and deference that allow the system to run smoothly. He sees himself as not merely a force for change, but as a wrecking ball.”

4) Trump’s War on Journalism
“Most presidents, irritated as they may have been, have continued to acknowledge — at least publicly — that an independent press plays an essential role in American democracy. They’ve recognized that while no news organization is perfect, honest reporting holds leaders and institutions accountable; that’s why a free press was singled out for protection in the 1st Amendment and why outspoken, unfettered journalism is considered a hallmark of a free country.”

5) Conspiracy Theorist in Chief
“Trump seems as willing to mouth off today as he was on the campaign — about wiretaps, inauguration crowds, fraudulent voters, you name it. And the problem with that is that he is no longer a blowhard TV personality or a raunchy guest on Howard Stern or a self-promoting real estate magnate or even a long-shot candidate for the Republican nomination. He’s now the president of the United States, and he is allowing the credibility of his unimaginably powerful office to be exploited and wasted on crackpot ideas that have been rightly discredited by politicians from both parties.”

Check if Your Home Router is Vulnerable

Microfiber Pollution

As I find other interesting articles and videos on this subject I will put links at the bottom of this post.

As a part-time fishing guide, water is an essential element of my life. What happens to and in the water has a direct impact on the quality of the experience for my clients. As a board member of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), I have a keen interest in how the industry looks at and addresses water issues, whether they are access or quality. As the deputy director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network where my focus is on marine issues, so I am tuned into the challenges we face with our oceans.

One subject that gets my attention in all three areas of my professional life is the issue of plastic pollution. The shop I guide for, Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, found an innovative solution to the use of disposable plastic containers for fishing flies. AFFTA quickly embraced this solution and now promotes it as an industry best practice. Packaging is the biggest part of the plastic pollution problem but not the only one. It was the small stuff that recently caught my attention.

One company that is at the forefront of environmental issues is Patagonia. They have been educating people about plastic pollution in our oceans for years. In June 2016, they turned their attention to microplastics in the waste stream. According to the post, What Do We Know About Tiny Plastic Fibers in the Ocean? in Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles, the microfibers in synthetic clothes like fleece are shed during washing and are not captured by filter systems in treatment plants. The microfibers wind up in the ocean, on beaches, and in rivers and lakes. According to Patagonia:

“We know a single synthetic garment can shed thousands of synthetic microfibers in a single wash. We also know synthetic microfibers, as opposed to microplastic beads, have an irregular shape that can pose a threat to smaller organisms—and may enter the food chain and work their way up to humans. We also know we sell a lot of fleece; what we produce, combined with all the polyester and nylon products made and sold by other outdoor and apparel brands (and other industries), may constitute a significant problem.”

While knowing there is a problem is a key first step, the important question is what each of us can do about it. Somedays the challenges we face seem daunting especially when seen through the twin lens of policy and politics. Daunting they may be, but there are things we as individuals can do to make a difference.

Last month in a follow-up post, An Update on Microfiber Pollution, Patagonia
shared what they have learned and where they are headed. “Over the past two years, the shedding of microfibers from Patagonia’s synthetic garments has taken on heightened urgency in how we consider our priorities moving forward. We’ve been working on several fronts…”

Here are the steps Patagonia suggests individuals can take.

  • Keep Using It: Keeping our gear in use longer is something we can all do to reduce our personal impact on the planet. Buy only what you need, buy high quality and make it last. In Patagonia’s recent study with researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a low-quality, generic-brand fleece shed significantly more over its life span than Patagonia’s high-quality products (brenmicroplastics.weebly.com).
  • Wash Less Often & Invest in a Front-load Washer: Microfibers shed in the wash—so wash your gear only when it’s absolutely necessary (you’ll conserve water in the process). Even your most-used outerwear should only need a full wash occasionally. If it’s caked with dirt (and we hope it will be), consider using a rag or sponge to spot clean rather than putting it through a machine cycle. And consider your washing machine: Studies show synthetic jackets laundered in top-load washing machines shed more than five times as many microfibers as the same jacket in front-load washers.
  • Fiber Filters Help: Putting your synthetic clothing into a filter bag before washing by hand or machine can significantly reduce the flow of microfibers into your drain. Starting in the coming weeks, you can buy (at cost) the easy-to-use Guppy Friend (guppyfriend.com) at Patagonia.com throughout the United States and Europe. Or install a permanent washing machine filter (requires some plumbing expertise), like Wexco’s Filtrol 160 (septicsafe.com/washing-machine-filter).

I admire the leadership Patagonia shows with their corporate ethic and willingness to recognize the impacts their products have, do the research on that impact and look for solutions not only in their manufacturing process but providing ways the end users can mitigate that impact. The least we can do as consumers is educate ourselves and act responsibly. The oceans and their inhabitants will thank us.

Author’s note: this post originally appeared in On the Waterfront the Marine Fish Conservation Network‘s blog.

Articles of interest:

CBS News: How microfibers in clothes are polluting our oceans

BBC: Video captures moment plastic enters food chain

We can clean the ocean: Rachael Miller at TEDxLowell


Not the Enemy

On February 17, 2017, the President tweeted:  “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

If that tweet was an isolated event, a pique of anger or frustration, not uncommon for elected officials caught on the receiving end of “bad press” then perhaps it could be ignored. That is not the case however. Since taking office the President and his staff have made the news media the whipping boy for things they don’t like. And while their anger may be understandable, their response has not been. They appear to not only wish to silence their critics, they are ignoring a foundational tenet of freedom in this country.

On February 24, 2017,  Trump doubled down on the characterization.

“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people,” said Trump to the attendees at Conservative Political Action Conference.

For those who need a refresher, here is the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Of special note, the First Amendment specifically names the PRESS under its protection.  As a journalist and having run a trade association for journalists that is of significant professional interest and comfort.

Attacks on the First Amendment therefore are both personal and professional attacks to me. I don’t take kindly to my colleagues being labeled “the enemy of the American People!” And, I am not a lone voice of concern about the cause for that characterization.

For me, the most important voice of concern was that of William H. McRaven, who on February 23, wrote an essay titled Journalism: Essential to Democracy. McRaven’s bona fides are legendary; University of Texas journalism graduate of 1977, U.S.Navy Admiral SEAL who commanded the Joint Special Operations Command.

If we are to challenge the sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the people – and challenge it we must – then journalists must do their part.

We need journalists with the courage to speak truth to power.

But it has to be the truth, not just their truth.

Truth means getting the facts right, every time.

It means having multiple solid sources to confirm those facts.

It means eliminating bias and hubris from reporting.”

There have been notable voices from our past who have voiced concern when free speech and the press were threatened:

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” -Theodore Roosevelt

“We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to associate, to speak, and to defend the causes that were for the moment unpopular.” -Edward R. Morrow

“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed—and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment—the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution—not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants’—but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.” -John F. Kennedy

As McRaven said “the United States has the finest press corps in the world, bar none.”  I could not agree more and feel privileged to count myself among the ranks of U.S. Navy officers and journalists.

My grandfather Sadler told me long ago, don’t pick a fight with people who buy ink by the 55 gallon drum. Looks like a few drums will get tapped in the coming months.

Nature Bats Last

One of the best Op/Ed pieces I have read in a long time ran this week in the LA Times.

It is an important lesson about the history of our nation when we ignore the facts and let the charlatans run loose akin to Hunter Thompson’s view of the TV business: “as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

We may live in a post-truth era, but nature does not” was written by Cynthia Barnett; an environmental journalist at the University of Florida’s and the author of  “Rain: A Natural and Cultural History.”

Regardless of alternative facts, fake news or scientific censorship, nature tells the truth. That truth will flood in torrential rains. It will sear in extended droughts. It will sweep into coastal homes, especially where it has been suppressed;

Our history, aptly chronicled by Professor Barnett, shows the folly of betting against Mother Nature.

nature’s truths are bluntest in times when the nation has ignored its best scientists, quashed reports to benefit industries and been awash in fake news. And those times have been frequent.

She points to the Great Plains of 1870’s and the then touted theory that “rain follows the plow.”  It did not as we know and the dust bowl was the punishment for those over hyped but unsubstantiated lies of the day (“alternative facts” in today’s gasthly phraseology.)

“The farmers helpless, with no weapon against this terrible and inscrutable wrath of nature, were spectators at the strangling of their hopes, their ambitions, all that they could look to from their labor,” wrote a young reporter named Stephen Crane at the Lincoln State Journal.“The farmers helpless, with no weapon against this terrible and inscrutable wrath of nature, were spectators at the strangling of their hopes, their ambitions, all that they could look to from their labor,” wrote a young reporter named Stephen Crane at the Lincoln State Journal.

There are many who will opt for the political over the scientific, the short term gain over the long term interest of their fellow man. They will find comfort in those post-truth theories that fit their narrative, facts be damned. As Barnett points out, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

In the end, the one truth that will always win out; nature bats last.