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

39 degrees, 43 minutes

Admittedly I have struggled with the putting into words my reaction to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Born, raised and schooled in New Hampshire, whose state motto is Live Free or Die, but now having lived more of my life in Virginia, I was struggling to understand how strong feelings of southern heritage had been co-opted by hate groups. How could I express my sense of right and wrong?

My good friend Tim Mead, who’s thinking I respect and admire, posted his Manifesto on his Facebook page. Nothing I could write would improve it or capture my thinking any better.

1. Nazism is evil. Saying there are other evils in the world, as has been done in the last week, does not mitigate the evil of Nazism. Making that case is an attempt to distract us from the real issue.
2. Persons who arrive at a public gathering carrying lighted torches, flags bearing Swastikas, clubs, and yelling racial, ethnic, and religious slurs are looking for trouble. Despite a claim, these are not “nice people.”
3. Apprehension that “political correctness” diminishes the richness of public and private discourse does not justify racial, ethnic, and religious slurs. One of the hallmarks of a civilized society is respect for other persons. Those who lack such respect, therefore, must be considered uncivilized.
4. The United States of America was founded on such respect. Has it always been manifested in its most prefect form? By all of our national leaders? No to both questions. Has progress been made? Yes. We ought not regress to an earlier standard.
5. Statues are symbols. Statues of Confederate heroes were erected in two periods. One after 1876 and through roughly 1920. To resolve the disputed election of 1876, Republicans essentially ceded to Southern Democrats the power to usher in the shameful Jim Crow period. The other started after May 17, 1954, the date Brown v. Board of Education was decided, and lasted through the late 1960s, the end of the Martin Luther King led Civil Rights period. What do these periods share? These statues were erected for political purposes. Now they are being removed for political purposes. For those with a “let locals decide” bent, note the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue was decided by local officials. Turn-about is fair play.
6. Much of politics is symbolic. And symbols are important. Consider, as an example, the hoorah about athletes standing for the national anthem. It doesn’t make a RAs difference (for those without an academic background, RA stands for Resident Assistant) for the game whether the national anthem is played (indeed, the practice was only started during the Red Scare of the 1920s) or athletes stand. And the athletes who chose to stand or not stand do so as symbols.
7. In many senses, what we are seeing is nostalgia for the Confederacy. Let’s make this very clear. The constitutional argument, then and now, for the Confederacy was state’s rights. And the right the states which secceeded, unsuccessfully as it turned out, was the right to maintain chattel slavery. During the late 1950s and 1960’s the argument for state’s rights was the right to maintain Jim Crow.
8. The United States is not a Christian nation, hostile to other religions, and where other religions are forced to take secondary places.
9. The United States is not a white nation, hostile to other races, and where other races are forced to take secondary places.
10. Folks who disagree with any of the above are free, indeed I invite you, to unfriend me.

Don’t Believe the Lies. Sportsmen Remain United on Conservation Issues

When it comes to the outdoors, Americans agree on the core issues

Source: Don’t Believe the Lies. Sportsmen Remain United on Conservation Issues

Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy – Outdoor Industry Association

Here is the information on Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy.

Source: Virginia – Outdoor Industry Association | Outdoor Industry Association

Patagonia’s Big Business of #Resist

The iconic brand has long been the conscience of the outdoor industry, forsaking hefty profits to do the right thing. Now the company is going to war against the Trump administration over protections for public land in a bid to become a serious political player—which happens to be very good for sales.

Source: Patagonia’s Big Business of #Resist

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


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.