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

In The Modern World, Why Do We Hunt And Fish?

Marshall Cutchin, a lifelong angler and man of the outdoors, reflects on the big philosophical questions relating to hunting and fishing.

Source: In The Modern World, Why Do We Hunt And Fish?

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

Caught my eye – 2014 week 50

Here are some things that recently caught my eye (in no particular order.) 

  1. Clarity from Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer > I wanted to share something that happened to me.
  2. John Fall talked about the therapy of fly fishing > I am now a firm believer in the therapeutic benefits of fly fishing
  3. An interesting way to make a cooking fire pit > Tip from the Book: How to Dig a Dakota Fire Hole
  4. Another good friend joined the AFFTA board > Two New Board Members Join AFFTA Board of Directors
  5. What a sailor learned > A Sailor’s Perspective on the United States Army
  6. A soldier pays tribute to the men he left behind > Story Corps: 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon
  7. A wonderful tribute to a black lab named Duke > I Died Today.
  8. Congress finally did something good for public lands (but a price..) > Sportsmen Applaud Historic Move to Conserve America’s Finest Habitat
  9. Navy Beat Army for the 13th time in a row > How Many Times Does Navy Have to Win Before it’s Renamed the Navy-Army Game?
  10. Great political satire on the immigration debate > Native American Council Offers Amnesty to 220 Million Undocumented Whites

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers name Land Tawney Executive Director

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers announced this week that Land Tawney will lead the organization. Tawney is one of the rising young stars of the conservation world and a top-hand. He will provide BHA with strong leadership and a can-do attitude that will surely move BHA into the big leagues of  hunting and fishing conservation groups. Tawney is a close friend and ally and I am rBHA logoeally excited to see him take charge!


MISSOULA — The national sportsmen’s group Backcountry Hunters & Anglers today announced the hiring of longtime Western conservation leader Land Tawney to be the organization’s new Executive Director.

“We are very excited to have a sportsman of Land’s caliber and experience to take the helm of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and lead this growing and influential organization forward,” said Ben Long, the group’s co-chairman. “Land exemplifies the hunting and fishing lifestyle and boots-on-the-ground conservation ethic that makes Backcountry Hunters & Anglers special.”

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers bills itself as “the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.” Born around an Oregon campfire in 2004 the organization now boasts members in nearly all 50 states and chapters in nearly all Western States.

“As someone who was raised hunting and fishing the backcountry of Montana, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a great fit for me personally and professionally,” said Tawney. “I’m excited to help this group of passionate public land sportsmen reach its full potential.”


Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.



Time to turn the page in the Sadler career book.

As you will see below, I have joined the Outdoor Writers Association of America as their new executive director. This is a very exciting opportunity for me, aligning both personal and professional interests and creating a chance to help this storied organization move forward.

OWAA’s mission “…is to improve the professional skills of our members, set the highest ethical and communications standards, encourage public enjoyment and conservation of natural resources, and be mentors for the next generation of professional outdoor communicators.”

I bet you can see why I am really looking forward to working for them.

Our headquarters is in Missoula, Mont. and while I will be traveling there often, will remain based here in Virginia.

OWAA is comprised of more than 800 individual outdoor communicators from the broad, modern spectrum of outdoor beats, from shooting to camping, fishing to kayaking, wildlife watching to backpacking. From these diverse backgrounds and disciplines, members gather beneath the OWAA banner to hone skills, share philosophies, develop profitable business strategies and network with peers, conservation policymakers and industry trendsetters.

Want to join us?

Dispatches will continue but with a more random posting schedule. I will continue to beat the Habitat = Opportunity = Economic Activity drum, talk about tenkara, and share some insights into of life’s more entertaining moments.

Change is good and this is a good change!

OWAA taps Sadler as executive director

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Outdoor Writers Association of America announces the hiring of Tom Sadler as the organization’s executive director.

Sadler is a lifelong outdoorsman and has worked for years in both the conservation and outdoor recreation arenas. A former U.S. Navy Reserve officer and an avid angler and hunter, he lives in Verona, Va., in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Sadler replaces Robin Giner, who left OWAA at the end of 2012.

“OWAA is fortunate to find someone of Tom’s caliber to lead our organization into a demanding new era,” said Mark Taylor, OWAA president and outdoor writer for The Roanoke Times. “This era requires that we adapt to an ever-changing media landscape in order to best serve our existing membership and attract new members. Tom is more than equal to the task at hand.

“We had a number of excellent candidates, but Tom’s experience in the outdoor and conservation arenas — complemented by his vast professional network — best positions him to lead the OWAA,” continued Taylor. “I believe he will guide our group to new heights.”

Sadler owns and runs a consulting firm, The Middle River Group, where he focuses on advocating outdoor recreation and conservation. He launched the company in 2008 after moving to Verona from Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Sadler was the director of program development for the Trust for Public Land. He also served as the conservation director for the Izaak Walton League of America and was president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

Sadler has worked as an outdoor columnist for the New Virginian in Waynesboro and writes about the outdoors and conservation on his blog, Dispatches from Middle River (middleriverdispatch.com). He also works occasionally as a fly-fishing guide for Mossy Creek Fly Fishing in Harrisonburg, Va.

Sadler serves on the boards of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association and the National Fisheries Friends Partnership. He also is a member of the steering committee of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a National Fish Habitat Partnership.

“My passion for the outdoors and conservation are exceeded only by my desire to share those passions with others,” Sadler said.

“OWAA members are the best communicators of those passions. To be able to help OWAA do more of that by growing the membership, increasing our supporter base and helping our members and supporters become successful is really an exciting opportunity.”

OWAA is The Voice of the Outdoors®. The Outdoor Writers Association of America is the oldest and largest association of professional outdoor communicators in the United States. It was organized in 1927 by members of the Izaak Walton League of America and includes professional communicators dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience. OWAA’s professionals include writers, photographers, outdoors radio- and television-show hosts, book authors, videographers, lecturers and artists. The association is headquartered in Missoula, Mont. For more information, contact Outdoor Writers Association of America, 615 Oak St., Ste. 201, Missoula, Mont. 59801; 406-728-7434, info@owaa.org; www.owaa.org. [LINK]

Our Public Lands (Part 3.1) – Sportsmen in Virginia.

Beth at the 2nd ford

In Our Public Lands (Part 3) I wrote about how important our public lands are for the local economy, specifically in Virginia. Thanks to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation we can see what hunters and anglers in Virginia mean to the economy.

According to the CSF, in 2011 in Virginia, hunters and anglers accounted for:

  • $2.38 billion in direct consumer spending,
  • $1.17 billion in salaries and wages,
  • $242 million in state and local taxes and
  • 39, 164 jobs.

Hunting and fishing are deep-seated traditions in the Commonwealth. Our elected officials love to talk about how they support those traditions and want to see them continue. But what are they doing to protect our public lands, the very venues that allow hunting and fishing to take place? If they don’t have a good answer then it is time to remind them that hunting and fishing are more than traditions, they are economic drivers in the state and to jeopardize those public land venues is to put that economic activity and the jobs at risk.

You can see what outdoor recreation means to your state’s economy and download the report on the CSF Reports page.

I said it before; the outdoor recreation economy is an economic powerhouse, now it needs to be a political powerhouse!