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BLM Colorado

Monday, August 15, 2016

BLM-Alaska Supports Veterans with Project Healing Waters


BLM FISHERIES ALASKA

BLM-AK SUPPORTS VETERANS WITH PROJECT HEALING WATERS

 

BLM Alaska recently hosted its sixth annual Tangle Lakes Project Healing Waters event. Project Healing Waters (PHW) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military personnel and veterans through fly fishing. The BLM joined with Project Healing Waters Alaska, the Wrangell Institute of Science and Environment, and devoted volunteers to host the weekend trip.

Military cadence evolves into the rhythmic fly casting cadence. (Photo by Carol Teitzel)

 

On June 23, BLM employees from Glennallen, Anchorage, and Fairbanks as well as Project Healing Waters participants and volunteers traveled to the Delta Wild and Scenic River and Tangle Lakes for two days of awesome fishing and camaraderie. This BLM-managed jewel makes an excellent choice around which to focus on fly fishing and healing.


 

Military cadence evolves into the rhythmic fly casting cadence. (Photo by Carol Teitzel)
On June 23, BLM employees from Glennallen, Anchorage, and Fairbanks as well as Project Healing Waters participants and volunteers traveled to the Delta Wild and Scenic River and Tangle Lakes for two days of awesome fishing and camaraderie. This BLM-managed jewel makes an excellent choice around which to focus on fly fishing and healing.

The iconic Delta Wild and Scenic River showing off its beautiful surrounding landscape. (Photo by Carol Teitzel)

 

A recent study showed that the density of Arctic grayling in the Delta River was the greatest ever observed among published density estimates for Alaska Rivers. The military service personnel had an unforgettable experience catching this beautiful and unique fish and learning about this extremely productive aquatic ecosystem.

 

"When I meet the soldiers at PHW I am always struck by how young many of them are," said Robin Mayo, Executive Director, Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, Alaska. "Many of them are from urban backgrounds and have never experienced wilderness. I like to think they can reclaim a piece of childhood as they explore the Wild and Scenic Delta River, enjoy boat rides to prime fishing locations, wade in pristine clear waters, and catch wild Alaskan fish. There is peace in wild places that can be found nowhere else."

 



SFC Manfred Aponte, U.S. Army, Retired (Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan), displaying the colors of America and an Arctic grayling. (Photo by Matt Vos)

 


A time for reflection. (Photo by Carol Teitzel)

 

Each day, participants and volunteers loaded into boats provided by the BLM and headed out into the Delta River in search of grayling and lake trout. The Arctic grayling were extremely cooperative: each participant caught 30 to 110 grayling per day with most averaging 10 to 16 inches on beadhead nymph flies and dry flies. Individuals who went fishing for lake trout also landed a few of these top predators. This year, PHW also sponsored three participants from other PHW programs in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Fairbanks, Alaska. It was the participants' first fishing experience in Alaska and they were thrilled to catch so many Arctic grayling.

 

This event was a great opportunity to thank and give back to the veterans who have given us so much and protect beautiful places that the BLM manages. Dave Rooker, Vietnam Pilot (age 80), summed up the experience: "Trip of lifetime, caught over hundred." 

 


Vietnam veteran Dave Rooker with an Arctic grayling. (Photo by Carol Teitzel)

 2016 Project Healing Waters, thanking those that serve. (Photo by Carol Teitzel)