BETHEL — Members of the Mollyockett Chapter of Trout Unlimited and other Maine chapters are about to start fundraising efforts to give wounded veterans a place to fish at Songo Locks.
George Westerberg of Lovell said Saturday at the Western Maine Fly Fishing Expo in Bethel that the chapter wants to build a veterans' pier at the locks in Sebago Lake State Park.
He said the two platforms, which will extend into the water, will have rails to prevent veterans in wheelchairs from falling in.
The piers will also help Trout Unlimited members teach wounded warriors and disabled veterans of every conflict the art of fishing with a fly and other lures.
"We know that fly-fishing — well, any kind of fishing — is therapeutic, so we're trying to make these piers available to any veteran to help them in their physical and emotional healing," Westerberg said.
He said they must raise an estimated $40,000 to $50,000. However, he said, those estimates are from three years prior, when the chapter first launched the effort.
Westerberg said the chapter didn't realize it had to wade through three years' worth of government bureaucracy just to get the permit to build the piers because Songo Locks is part of the interstate water system.
He said they received that permit two weeks ago and started work on a campaign to seek the money. However, another obstacle soon surfaced that temporarily halted efforts.
"Now we have to deal with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission because at that site we chose for the piers, an amateur archaeologist discovered tools that go way back in time," Westerberg said.
Once that's settled and the town of Naples signs off on the project, they can get going again in earnest.
"This is one way that we can be involved with (disabled veterans) for their future," Westerberg said. "Not just because we like to fish, but we learned that this is rehabilitation for them, so that gives you the adrenaline to get the thing moving along."