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TOGIAK: Togiak Lake Proves To Be a Terrific Consolation Prize
Alaska Region, August 6, 2008
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A Togiak Lake EE Camp student gets to see Togiak River from the counting tower.
A Togiak Lake EE Camp student gets to see Togiak River from the counting tower. - Photo Credit: n/a
Refuge Information Technician Pete Abraham of Togiak discusses edible and medicinal plants with students.
Refuge Information Technician Pete Abraham of Togiak discusses edible and medicinal plants with students. - Photo Credit: n/a

In dealing with the unpredictability of Mother Nature, sometimes flexibility is the key. So it was for Togiak National Wildlife Refuge’s annual 2008 Cape Peirce Marine Science and Yup’ik Culture Camp- a camp that recently happened but became something else altogether.

 

For more than a decade, area junior high students have visited Cape Peirce in late summer to study the marine mammals and seabirds that abound there. Cape Peirce is located on an extremely remote part of the Refuge, with rocky cliffs rising up from the waters of Bristol Bay. The annual science camp that’s held there typically lasts about four or five days and participating students get the opportunity to see many unique forms of wildlife up close and personal, as well as having the chance to visit with area elders about traditional uses of Refuge resources. This year, because of concerns about safety due high bear numbers (as many as nineteen individual bears were spotted in close proximity to the planned campsite), a last minute change of destinations was required.

 

Enter Togiak Lake- a gem of a water body found in the heart of the Refuge. It was here that seven area junior high students from Dillingham and Togiak, along with Refuge staff members, abandoned any thoughts of walruses and puffins and instead spent four days embracing what Togiak Lake had to offer.

 

Some of the activities and lessons included wilderness survival skills, using dry suits to view underwater fish, archery techniques and different angling methods (along with plenty of practice time). Students also were able to visit with Togiak Refuge Information Technician (and village elder) Pete Abraham of Togiak. Mr. Abraham took students on a short walk to identify edible and medicinal plants and shared with them some of the uses of those plants. He also demonstrated how to cook fish over a campfire in traditional Eskimo fashion.

 

One of the highlights of the camp was a visit to the salmon counting tower (run by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game) on the Togiak River. Students were able to speak with tower workers to get a better understanding of how fish are counted and how those counts influence management of the fishery. They were also able to participate in and witness firsthand a sampling activity.

 

The beauty and unique nature of Cape Peirce- and the camp that’s held there- will always make it a popular draw. But for this particular summer, clear skies and sunshine, a whole lot of fish, breathtaking scenery and some terrific camaraderie made for a phenomenal consolation camp.

 


Contact Info: Terry Fuller, 907-842-1063 ext. 8419, terry_fuller@fws.gov



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