View from Guthrie Trail
Pine Butte Preserve View from Guthrie Trail © Nathan Birkeland/TNC

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United by Nature

New Partnership to Serve Nation’s Veterans Announced

LAPLATA, MD

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. and The Nature Conservancy are partnering to further the recovery of injured and disabled veterans. 

This collaboration will launch with a program at The Nature Conservancy’s Pine Butte Preserve outside Choteau, Montana, with the purpose of providing eight disabled veterans with conservation-oriented educational and angling opportunities during a three-day retreat in August. 

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities, including education and outings. Many PHWFF veteran participants are new to the sport of fly fishing - a sport traditionally instilled with a natural conservation ethos - which is where The Nature Conservancy will play a role. 

The Conservancy supports a diverse range of programs globally to further conservation, protection, sustainable management and appreciation of nature in urban, suburban, rural and wild places, and has a long history of working with military communities in places like Fort Bragg and Camp Ripley.   

The Conservancy owns and protects two million acres all over the U.S., and the two organizations found a great fit in each other’s missions. 

“Nature provides for us in so many ways, from food and water to energy and livelihoods. Our mission to conserve lands and waters stems from all of this, but also from the hope and sense of belonging it brings people. As a veteran, I’m grateful for partnerships like this that provide immersive learning opportunities, connect new audiences with conservation and demonstrate nature’s invaluable, restorative power,” said Brian McPeek, Chief Conservation Officer for the Conservancy. 

PHWFF began in 2005 serving wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, PHWFF has expanded nationwide, establishing its highly successful program in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and clinics.  

“By learning the sport, we’ve seen participants immerse themselves in environmental education and stewardship of our rivers and streams,” said David Folkerts, Chief Operations Officer for PHWFF.  “Their exposure to and involvement with the educational work and natural places of The Nature Conservancy will play a key-role in their development as anglers while simultaneously furthering their journey to recovery.” 

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. began in 2005 serving wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Since then, PHWFF has expanded nationwide, establishing over 200 highly successful programs in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and clinics.  In 2017 alone, 3,636 PHWFF volunteers served 8,470 injured and disabled military service personnel and disabled veterans nationwide. Visit www.projecthealingwaters.org to learn more. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.