Call for Papers: Rivers of Conservation: Historical and Global Perspectives in Fly Fishing and Coldwater Conservation
Recently, the Society for Conservation Biology touted recreational anglers, particularly fly fishers, as “instrumental in successful fisheries conservation through active involvement in, or initiation of, conservation projects to reduce both direct and external stressors contributing to fishery declines.” The engagement of the fly fishing community in the protection of nature or conservation of fisheries is hardly a new phenomenon. An intense interest and concern for the well-being of streams and watersheds stems from the nature of the sport, which has since its earliest years inspired evolving manifestations of nature study, entomology, and ichthyology.
Yet, one need not assume investigations into the workings of fish and their aquatic homes are tethered explicitly to the pragmatic goals of catching food. Throughout the storied history of fly fishing trout and salmon have tugged at the human imagination in various and complex ways. Fly fishing has led anglers to pen poetry and prose of devotion to the majestic Atlantic salmon or the increasingly isolated brook trout. Artists over a span of centuries, including Johann Stradanus, Winslow Homer, Ogden Pleissner, and James Prosek have recorded the diversity and beauty of species of sportfish. Fish and fishing have also inspired a number of genres and techniques, from still lives of fish in European and American painting to the gyotaku fish prints made by Japanese artists. What seems a sport to many, fly fishing is an outright religion to others. The practice and experience of fly fishing carries with it certain experiential and aesthetic qualities that draw anglers to pursue the sport with unique passion. That passion has extended well beyond a desire to catch fish, but to motivations to protect the spaces of fishing – creeks, rivers, and watersheds. As Aldo Leopold wrote, love of sport is often the catalyst for a conservation ethic.
This conservation ethic is manifest in many contexts of fly fishing based conservation. Anglers in America were some of the first to speak out on the declining quality of waters from pollution caused by rising industry in a developing nation. Responding to plummeting fish numbers anglers were catalytic in the practice of pisciculture and the spread of fish hatcheries around the country and the world. A devotion to sport led anglers to carry trout from their homelands to far off waters of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and South America - which paradoxically has earned brown and rainbow trout a place on the list of top 100 invasive species. Recognizing their blunder, most recently, anglers have begun to remove those non-native trout in order to restore native populations of trout such as the Rio Grande cutthroat in headwater streams of New Mexico, for example. In the United States and abroad, fly fishers have worked in local grassroots organizations or national politics always pushing the front edge of river and watershed management and conservation strategies.
Suffice to say, fly fishing has a storied, complex, and paradoxical relationship with the waters and rivers of fishing. This book will explore that history. Drawing upon the work of historians, social scientists, and leaders in the field of conservation biology, this work seeks to bring together a diverse collection of essays engaging the relationship between the sport of fly fishing and the histories of trout conservation, river management, and the emergence of ecological restoration.
As anglers and conservationists move forward through the 21st century, the protection and management of trout, salmon, and their habitats face continuing challenges from the impacts of climate change on native trout habitat, to mineral and resource extraction in wild salmon waters, to the impacts of invasive species on pristine waters. Assessing future challenges demands understanding the history and trajectories of trout management around the globe. Throughout this history anglers have been motivated by aesthetic dimensions of fly fishing, advances in ecological understandings, and community collaboration amongst grassroots groups. Assessing the successes and failures of these stories is imperative for navigating future trout waters.
The inspiration for this study evolved from a public symposium hosted by the National Sporting Library and Museum in November of 2009, titled "A River Never Sleeps: Conservation, History, and the Fly Fishing River," evoking the title of Roderick Haig-Brown’s important book of the same title. Three of the speakers from this symposium – Samuel Snyder, Bryon Borgelt, and James Prosek- will contribute chapters to this volume, as well as symposium coordinator, Elizabeth Tobey. As a result of that symposium and conversations around the publication of an edited volume on the subject, we have approached Cambridge Scholars Press, who has expressed interest in our project.
Therefore, we are seeking contributors to this volume from a wide range of academic disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and biological sciences. Beyond academic perspectives we understand and appreciate that practitioners of the sport of fly fishing often develop deep and nuanced experience and knowledge of the traditions of their sport. Therefore, in an effort to encourage dialogue and exchange among academics, sportsmen, artists, and writers, the editors also wish to include some perspectives of individuals outside academia. These individuals are also actively engaged, either directly or indirectly through the subject matter of their work or environmental activism, in documenting fly fishing’s rich history and protecting rivers and streams.
For more information about participation in this project, please email project editors Samuel Snyder, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org), Elizabeth Tobey, PhD (email@example.com), or Bryon Borgelt (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are interested in contributing, please submit a 150 word abstract by January 15, 2010.
Elizabeth Tobey, Ph.D.
Director of Research & Publications
National Sporting Library & Museum
P.O. Box 1335
Middleburg, VA 20118
540-687-6542 x 11
Fax: 540-687-8540 Email: email@example.com
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