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TOGIAK: AreaYouthDiscover Ecologyby Floatingthe Togiak River
Alaska Region, August 30, 2011
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Fish On! Connor Ito certainly looks happy with this Dolly Varden.
Fish On! Connor Ito certainly looks happy with this Dolly Varden. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Move over Robin Hood. Sonny Flensburg takes aim with a bow and arrow.
Move over Robin Hood. Sonny Flensburg takes aim with a bow and arrow. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Row, Row, Row Your Boat! Jae Lee stops to consider the lay of the river as he takes a turn at the oars.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat! Jae Lee stops to consider the lay of the river as he takes a turn at the oars. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Isaac Reynolds adjusts his snorkle before paying a visit to the fish of the Togiak River.
Isaac Reynolds adjusts his snorkle before paying a visit to the fish of the Togiak River. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Camping along the Togiak River.
Camping along the Togiak River. - Photo Credit: USFWS

A few weeks back, six Togiak Refuge area students were set to float the Ongivinuk River as a part of the refuge’s annual Summer Outdoor Skills and River Ecology Float Camp. Unfortunately, an unforeseen hitch in plans forced a change of destinations, from the Ongivinuk River to the Togiak River. Did that matter to these campers? Not in the least. The Ongivinuk is a terrific river due to its remote nature and scenic location. However, this year’s campers proved to be troopers as well, they didn't skip a beat as the camp was moved to the more centrally located Togiak River.

The camp’s first day was heavy with both wind and rain but, after a dry night spent at an empty Alaska Fish and Game cabin, both were left behind for the rest of the trip. Scattered clouds and quite a bit of sun was the rule of thumb for the remainder of the float, and students were able to participate in the camp’s many activities while remaining dry. Some of those activities and topics included the following:

  •  River rafting technique and rafting safety: Students were instructed in various rowing techniques and how to read a river. Three sizes/types of rafts were used during this camp, and all six students had ample opportunities to put into practice what they learned.
  • Sportfishing techniques and Catch and Release Angling principals: Students used both fly fishing and spinning tackle to land and release Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, rainbow trout and both chinook and chum salmon.
  • Archery: Students were given instruction on how to correctly shoot a bow, as well as the different types of tackle used by archers. A field shooting session involving paper targets and balloons gave them a chance to display their prowess with a bow and arrow.
  • Careers with the USFWS: Several formal and informal discussions were held to talk about what it’s like and what it takes to work for the USFWS.
  • River Ecology: Students were able to don dry suits to get a firsthand look at what’s going on below the surface.
  • Juvenile salmonid identification: Minnow traps were set nightly and mornings included trap checks and discussions about the different physical characteristics to look for that distinguish between the different types of salmon fry found in the Togiak River.
  • Other subjects that were presented and discussed included bear safety, Leave No Trace camping practices and wilderness survival priorities and techniques.

While the above topics were addressed and practiced during the course of this camp, the overarching theme was much more basic: to have fun outdoors and come away with a deeper sense of stewardship for Togiak's outdoor resources. Judging by the many conversations, the friendships that were established and the smiles and laughter that were shared, this camp certainly hit its mark.

Students were accompanied on this camp by Togiak staff members Allen Miller, Debbie Reiswig and Terry Fuller. Also, staff members Pete Abraham and Jon Dyasuk assisted with transportation to the camp.
 


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



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