A longtime Flathead Valley journalist is the new face of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1.
Dillon Tabish, whose bylines graced the pages of the Daily Inter Lake and the Flathead Beacon for the past several years has been the information specialist for the region for since late last year.
Tabish was born and raised in Missoula. A Loyola Sacred Heart graduate, he was an all-state cross-country and track runner and also played basketball and baseball in his youth. His father was a fisherman and they plied the local blue ribbon trout streams together as well as annual excursions to the Big Hole and Wise Rivers among many others.
While his father was a fisherman, it was his mother who got him involved in hunting. She signed him up for his hunter safety class when he was 15 and took the classes with him.
“Even if I didn’t hunt, she thought I should learn firearm safety,” he said in an interview last week.
Tabish shot his first deer with a open sighted .30-.30 Winchester handed down from his grandfather.
After high school, he went to the University of Montana and graduated with a degree in journalism and a minor in history in 2008. He was a river guide on the main Salmon River out of Idaho and spent four summers as a wildland firefighter for the state Department of Natural Resources. He was on initial attack on the Jocko Lakes Fire in 2007 — a blaze that would eventually grow to epic proportions.
In September 2008, he took his first journalism job as a sports and outsdoors writer for the Daily Inter Lake. He left in May 2011 and was going to leave the Flathead for awhile, but he got in a car wreck and his savings was spent on health care costs.
In August that same year, he took the same post with the Flathead Beacon, writing about sports, natural resources and outdoor issues for the weekly as well as Kalispell city government.
It was there he got to know the local managers of FWP — information officer John Fraley, regional supervisor Jim Williams and fisheries manager Mark Deleray.
Writing about local fish and wildlife management and Northwest Montana’s vast array of species drew him to the agency.
When Fraley retired earlier this year, Tabish threw his proverbial hat into the ring and was chosen from a host of candidates.
“I was surprised and extremely honored,” he said when he learned he got the job.
Tabish realizes he has some big shoes to fill.
“John Fraley is a living legend,” he said.
In his first month at the position, Tabish said he’s already learned a lot from his peers at the agency as well as the outdoorsmen it has a relationship with.
“I’ve learned more in the past four weeks than I did in the last four years,” he said.
Tabish said he wants to keep transparency and trust between FWP and the public.
“We have to constantly be aware of the public trust doctrine,” he said.
That means using science as a tool to make sound management decisions. He realizes they won’t please everyone, but he said it’s important for the public to know that the agency “builds management action based on sound science and comprehensive research,” he said.
It’s also about preserving a way of life. He noted he has some great memories with his family in the outdoors.
“Hopefully we can ensure future generations have those same memories,” he said.