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

Recapping the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture Annual Partnership Meeting

Orvis News Conservation Blog

My friend Phil Monahan shot me an email asking if I would write a recap of The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture Annual Partnership Meeting for the OrvisNews Conservation blog. It was a great opportunity to help tell the EBTJV story so naturally I jumped at the chance.
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Headed to IFTD

Dispatches is going mobile to Denver bright and early tomorrow.  First the AFFTA board meeting on Wednesday, then the IFTD Show Thurs thru Saturday.

If you want to stay up to date on the show, “like” the IFTD Facebook page and follow IFTD on Twitter.

I will also try and log in a few posts from the show as well.

Stay tuned!

GoFISHn interview with NOAA big fish, Eric Schwaab

NOAA’s Eric Schwaab

Ned Desmond from GoFISHn.com has posted his three part interview with Eric Schwaab, NOAA’s assistant administrator for fisheries. I wrote about Eric when he was appointed and as you will see in Desmond’s interview Schwaab is a not only a thoughtful leader but a vocal champion of recreational fishing.

Desmond and Schwaab discuss many the pressing issues of concern to saltwater recreational anglers. It is a comprehensive look at the work NOAA is doing and what it means for recreational fishing.
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Rick Bach, Tenkara and the EBTJV

When I got a note from Rick Bach asking about trout fishing in Maryland I wrote back saying I was not much on Maryland but would be happy to take him to the mountains in Virginia to fish for brook trout with a tenkara rod. Rick being an adventurous young man, after all he is fishing his way across the country and blogging about it for OutdoorLife.com this summer, took me up on it. We had a ball, Rick picked up tenkara style fishing right away. He moved through the casting and fishing options with ease going to a two fly rig and sling shot cast and landing a nice fat brookie in a tricky spot at the end of the day.

You can see his gallery and commentary from his adventures in DC, the Chesapeake Bay and the Rapidan. I really appreciate Rick giving a shout out to the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture!

Photos from our trip on the Rapidan start at number 15

Smith Creek watershed honored

On a recent, beautiful June afternoon local farmers, federal, state and local officials, conservation organizations and area residents gathered for an announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture naming the 67,000-acre Smith Creek watershed as Virginia’s Chesapeake Showcase Watershed.

The announcement was made on Gary and Ellen Lohr’s Valley Pike Farm overlooking the Valley in Broadway as part of the implementation of the Obama administration’s “Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” released last May.

Ann Mills, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, made the announcement.

“Making these announcements from a local farm is more than a symbolic gesture,” Mills said. “Nearly 75 percent of the land in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is in private farms and forests. The showcase watersheds strengthen USDA’s commitment to funding priority conservation practices in places that will do the most good for water quality in the Bay and its tributaries.”

In May 2009, President Obama signed The Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order declaring the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure and requiring a coordinated strategy for restoration and protection.

The executive order directed federal agencies to “define environmental goals for the Chesapeake Bay and describe milestones for making progress toward attainment of these goals.” The strategy focuses on achieving four essential priorities for a healthy Chesapeake ecosystem — restore clean water, recover habitat, sustain fish and wildlife and conserve land and increase public access.

One of the goals in the strategy that caught my attention and led to my attending the announcement on the Lohr’s farm was to, “Sustain healthy populations of fish and wildlife, which contribute to a resilient ecosystem and vibrant economy”.

One of the outcomes for that goal was “restoring naturally reproducing brook trout populations in headwater streams … by 2025.” Because of my involvement with the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture I was thrilled to see brook trout recovery efforts as a key outcome for Cheasapeake Bay Watershed efforts.

Eighteen months ago I wrote about the efforts of the EBTJV and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, noted the work at Smith Creek and what it means to the Valley. At the time I wrote “Working cooperatively with ten diverse partners, the project is helping restore riparian habitat at the headwaters of Smith Creek. This project connects to Mountain Run in the George Washington National Forest as well, providing additional spawning habitat for those Brook Trout.”

Smith Creek also gained national attention in 2007 as one the first of the NFHAP “10 Waters to Watch”.

Now Smith Creek will be getting additional attention and funding and can serve as a model for other efforts across the state and country. Of course having Smith Creek as a Showcase Watershed adds additional incentive for implementing the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

The NFHAP can build upon the successes of Smith Creek and the two other Showcase Watersheds, the 23,000-acre Upper Chester River Watershed in Maryland and the 34,000-acre Conewago Creek Watershed in Pennsylvania and leverage those models into additional aquatic habitat conservation across the country.

Now is the time for Federal agencies with responsibility managing aquatic habitat to increase their efforts to implement the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. Coordination among those agencies will promote stewardship and improve the health of our Nation’s aquatic habitat.

Perhaps it is time for an Executive Order to implement the NFHAP.

If the administration leads the way then maybe Congress will get the message and pass the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act.

It should come as no surprise and serve as a point of pride that conservation efforts here in the Valley get national recognition. There is a long and treasured tradition of stewardship and respect for the land and the natural resource bounty it provides.

That tradition and the connection to the land were never more evident than on the Lohr’s farm last week.

You can read more of my columns at the News Virginian.com.

Fishers for Fish Habitat Tour and Forum in Australia

I was in Australia for the past couple of weeks. During the first week my wife and I had a chance to visit some of New South Wales; the South Coast, Snowy Mountains, Lake Jindabyne, Kosciusko National Park, Cooma and Cowra. We tried to stay away from the large urban areas and see as much of the more rural parts as we could.

The second week, we had the pleasure of spending 5 days with Craig Copeland and Charlotte Jenkins of Industry and Investment New South Wales. They took my wife and I on a tour of some of the fish habitat projects they have been working on. It was a great opportunity to see how our Australian colleagues are dealing with the challenges of dwindling fish habitat. We went to sites in the Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central West, Hunter Valley and wound up at Lake Macquarie for the forum.

I also had a chance to be part of a panel discussion with some notable Australian recreational fishing pros and give a presentation on fish habitat activity in the U.S., especially the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture.

F4F recreational fishers panel

i sound smarter with a beer in front of me....

I even managed to get a little press coverage of my visit:  US expert says conservation is give and take.

It was a wonderful opportunity to see Australia both on our own and with some liked minded conservationists and to trade ideas and stories about two things I really enjoy, fishing and conservation.