Project Healing Waters-2018

by Vicki Heisser  |   

Written by Vicki Heisser - 

Earlier this month, The Bureau of Land Management Alaska released Project Healing Waters-2018 BLM, a video, directed and edited by Prince William Sound College (PWSC) graduate and BLM media intern, Jeremy Gallman.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.™, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to disabled, active military service personnel and disabled veterans, utilizes fly fishing and associated activities, including education and outings, in order to aid in the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans and service personnel.

To learn more about this event and the making of the video, PWSC spoke with both Gallman and Tim Sundluv, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Fish Biologist.

PWSC: Tim, how did Project Healing Waters get started?

Tim: "The BLM Glennallen Field Office has been hosting Project Healing Waters events since 2011.  Mike Henrie (USAF Band), started Anchorage Project Healing Waters out of his garage and in the banquet room of the Golden Corral.  I (Tim Sundlov) met with Mike at the Golden Corral in December of 2010, to pitch the idea of a Tangle Lakes Event for 2011.  I explained to Mike, that population of Arctic grayling in the Delta River is the largest ever recorded in Alaska and catching lots of fish can be an important element of a fishing event’s success.  Mike was all in, and soon I found myself with him on the banks of the Tangle River.  Mike is still active duty Air Force and has since been stationed outside of Alaska."  

PWSC: The making of the video, why is it important?

Tim: "I hope the video will raise awareness of the healing values of public lands, foster appreciation for the iconic Wild and Scenic Delta River and Tangle Lakes, and most importantly, appreciation for those that have served our country.  The Amphitheater Mountains surround the river creating a beautiful, grandiose landscape, that quiets the mind and allows participants to find peace and healing.  This BLM managed jewel makes an excellent choice to center fly fishing and healing around. 

The BLM managed Delta River begins as a chain-lake system (Tangle Lakes) consisting of 21 lakes.  All of these shallow lakes positively influence the productivity of the Delta River, creating the tremendous population of Arctic grayling.  Veterans during the PHW Tangle Lakes Event routinely catch and release over 25 to 100 Arctic grayling a day, which creates many opportunities for stories around the dinner table and campfire that strengthen comradery and build relationships.  Project Healing Waters is a catch-n-release organization, which is important to protect this amazing Arctic grayling fishery.  I find the ‘in-between” time spent on the streambanks with participants is most valuable to me.  I have learned about their families, aspirations, injuries and struggles, and one can’t help to feel extreme gratitude towards those that have given so much to our country." 


PWSC: Jeremy, how did you get involved with the "Healing Waters" project? 

Jeremy: "At the beginning of the internship my supervisor Robben Taylor and I met to strategize about what I should film during the summer. One of the major events that the BLM Glennallen Field Office hosts is Project Healing Waters, Fly Fishing at Tangle Lakes. So, I ended up attending the event in late June, captured highlights, and coordinated with BLM boat drivers to film on the water."

PWSC: What was the artistic vision when starting it? 

Jeremy: "Originally, the vision was to only capture significant moments from the event. Pre-production was difficult, because I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to capture. But luckily, on the first day, I was invited to tag along with the two National participants, along with a BLM staff member and a Project Healing Waters volunteer. This group was more willing to be on camera than the others, and I felt comfortable pointing my lens in their direction as I did not want to intrude on anybody's privacy."

PWSC: During the filming, were there any obstacles to overcome? 

Jeremy: "The greatest obstacle I had during the event was asking the right questions during the interviews. Due to the nature of the event and those participating, I wanted to be as least intrusive and most respectful as possible. I tried to make my intentions clear, assuring participants that I wasn't interested in exploiting or sensationalizing their stories."

PWSC: Any surprises? 

Jeremy: "I was surprised at how honest and open the participants were during their interviews. They shared what fly fishing meant to them and how grateful they are for Project Healing Waters. It was incredibly inspiring to hear what kind of positive impacts events like these can have on participants."

PWSC: Is there a takeaway from this experience?

Jeremy: "My biggest takeaway from putting this video together is that listening to one another and building meaningful relationships can lead to great things. By interacting with participants, I was able to break that invisible barrier between camera and subject. I truly felt connected to everyone that I interviewed, which looking back, was something I never expected to happen at all. I learned that sometimes, even if you want to keep your distance out of consideration for participants, or for fear of intruding, it can be better to engage and immerse yourself in conversation."

Watch Project Healing Waters-2018 video: