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BLM Colorado

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse ONA Hosts Inaugural Veterans Family Fishing Classic Event


BLM FISHERIES FLORIDA
JUPITER INLET LIGHTHOUSE ONA HOST INAUGURAL VETERANS FAMILY FISHING CLASSIC

On October 12, 2015 the first annual Jupiter Inlet Veterans Family Fishing Classic was held. It was open to all wounded, injured or ill heroes and their families. This event gave 65 veterans (many from West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, VA West Palm Beach Blind Rehabilitation Center, and the Salvation Army) and family members that attended an opportunity to fish, relax and enjoy camaraderie. Activities included hosted shore fishing, professional fishing instruction with all equipment supplied, family activities, educational and interpretive activities and a closing celebration which included lunch and raffle prizes. It was great to see the veterans and their families having a good time and enjoying the day as did the 15+ volunteers. The weather was sunny and bright which called for lots of sunscreen and water.
Unfortunately the bite rate was slow. Those who ventured to wade out were rewarded with a mix of surf perch, catfish and snapper. Those who didn’t catch a fish still enjoyed learning how to cast and bait a hook. Those who wanted also learned how to tie classic knots and set rigs for bottom fishing. They were also shown how to throw a seine net and retrieve live bait from shore.

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (ONA) property, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), provides an oasis vibrant in cultural and nautical history and awesome public resources where the Loxahatchee River and Indian River Lagoon flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It is probably most famous for its important manatee habitat and historic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.
West Palm Beach Fishing Club leads the shore fishing. Photo by Leonard Bryant
 The non-profit FishingCommunity.Org (FCO), in conjunction with the BLM, Loxahatchee River Historical Society, the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, and multiple community sponsors used the site to serve our veterans and their families and demonstrate the recreational, educational and rehabilitational capabilities of public land fishing resources.


 VA Team. Photo by Leonard Bryant
Fish On!. Photo by Leonard Bryant
 Moray eel joins the party. Photo by Leonard Bryant

Peter DeWitt addressess the crowd. Photo by Leonard Bryant
Ernie Rojas (right) leads the event.  Photo by Leonard Bryant
BLM Team. Photo by Leonard Bryant
The Classic is an application of a national service model developed by the BLM and FCO Partnership to utilize America’s public lands fishing resources to develop engagement and vitality between the BLM and other state and federal agencies, local communities, Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense, the local fishing community, and veterans and their families.
This inaugural, nationally-recognized event is intended to be recurring event at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse ONA.  The event is open to and free of charge to any veteran, from any campaign, and of any disability level, and open to all family members.  Volunteers can be anyone who want to help us make a difference.

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse  Photo by Leonard Bryant

View from the top.  Photo by Leonard Bryant

The land includes an important tidal wetland constructed along the Intracoastal Waterway, providing habitat for wading birds and a nursery for marine fish and other organisms.  The 120 acre tract contains lands administered by the BLM, U.S. Coast Guard and the Town of Jupiter. 
The managed area contains Florida scrub, maritime hammock, and mangrove swamp natural communities.  The part of the site on the south side of Beach Road lies within the Town of Jupiter and contains the historic 1860 Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, the George Washington Tindall Pioneer House and the Town of Jupiter Lighthouse Park.  The Loxahatchee River Historical Society provides scheduled guided tours of the lighthouse.  The natural area is part of the Northeast Everglades Natural Area.
FishingCommunity.Org does not replace existing veteran service programs.  FCO works to enhance, compliment and fills gaps by providing coordination and communication between organizations, charities, fishermen, citizens, and government programs to “connect and empower” wounded military members and veterans, highly stressed individuals and environmentalists across the country.  After all, it is about us working together as a community that makes the difference.

This event was for and about the veterans and their families. It was a success as seen with the amount smiles on all participants, volunteers and partners. Lots of new friends were made and at the end of the event veterans and their families were asked if they would attend the event next year and they all answered with an enthusiastic YES!
If you would like to participate in or sponsor future events, become a volunteer or donor, or hold an event in your area; contact FishingCommunity.Org at www.fishingcommunity.org or contact FCO founder Paul K. Ketrick at paul@ketrick.org
We look forward to returning next year and making this event even bigger! Until then keep fishing, stay in touch and let us know what you have been catching in beautiful Jupiter Inlet, Florida.