During my time in college this new group formed on campus; The Izaak Walton League. They published their group and were recruiting new members. I knew it was a group concerned about the environment, but that was about all. This project was a chance to learn more.
The Izaak Walton League of American was originally founded in 1922 to by group of avid anglers who where concerned with protecting America’s natural resources for the future generations. These anglers noticed the rapid develop that was increasing the amount of pollution and causing the decline of public hunting and fishing lands along with the fish and wildlife populations. Having a strong sportsmen connection they named the organization for Izaak Walton the author of The Compleat Angler . Today the organization has almost 300 chapters with more then 40,000 members and has not forgotten its roots. Chapters are very active in conservation efforts, but also still promote safe hunting and gun use. 111 of the chapters operate shooting ranges and offer hunters safety course along with other course in outdoor recreation.
As you can see from the mission statement that the IWLA is concerned with a wide range of issues, along with providing the education needed to promote the issues. The position of the organization on the wide range of issues is published in their conservation policies document. Each year they review these over 100 page document updating their stance using the best available scientific data. With in the Conservation policies document the state one major goal of the organization as being “That America’s natural resources should be protected, managed, and used to assure long-term quality of life.” Overtime the issues of most concern greatly have changed and the IWLA changes their policies and action with the issues to continue to full fill their mission and meet their goals.
In its current conservation effort the IWLA has many different programs aimed at a variety of issues and natural resources. Agriculture Programs- What began as an effort to retire fields in mountainous region in 1934 now aims to promote sustainable framing practices for both people and the land. These programs also address issues created do to non-point pollution sources and soil erosion. Many of the efforts are taking place in the Mississippi river and the Missouri River basins. Clean Air Programs- These are really focus on air pollution issues associated with coal burning power plants. The major effort is to clean up the oldest and dirtiest power plants. Much of the focus is on Xcel energy and plants in the Midwest region with several in Minnesota including High Bridge and Sherco. Some programs with in this area also focus on climate change and different energy sources along with how they affect wildlife. Clean Water Programs- Focused on streams, wetlands, and the great lakes these programs included monitoring, clean up and restoration of these ecological important areas. They also have Clean Boats programs to educate about invasive exotics and the importance of clean boats before transferring water bodies. Outdoor Ethics Programs- IWLA sums up the goals of these programs very simply “ We must leave our woods, waters and wildlife better than we found them, and we must dedicate ourselves to inspiring others to do the same. “ To do this they reach out to outdoor user groups to promote responsible use practices and ideas. These programs often included but are definitely not limited to hunters safety courses. Sustainability Education- As the human footprint gets larger these programs are designed to educated people on how to reduced their own footprint in their home and community. These programs also focus on population growth and its relationship to energy consumption, urban sprawl and other issues. Wilderness and Public Lands- The IWLA seeks to protect lands though legislation and advocacy. Since the organizations inception it has been involved in creating areas of wilderness so they are their for future use. They are continually working to the boundary waters and have recently help in establishing the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore as wilderness. Along with all their programs the IWLA is very active in the legislation dealing with natural resources. They have an action center on the website providing information of important bills and easy access to contact your representatives on the issues.
IWAL is very active in Minnesota which is home to their field office, which is located in St. Paul. There are 20 chapters all over the state that have different types of programs and facilities. If someone does not want to be a member of a chapter they can be a member-at-large of the national organization. You can join over the phone, online, or find a local chapter. Benefits of being a member include access to local activities and project, the quarterly magazine, Outdoor America , and updates and reports. Both members and non-members can get their free e-newsletter, Conservation Currents, by signing up online. This e-newsletter provides information about upcoming events, action alerts, and more ways to help conserve the America’s Natural Resources If someone does not want to join, but does want to contribute to the many projects they can donate online. If making a donation it can be a general donation or it can be designated to a specific project. If you are just looking for more information the IWLA website is a great source. Many local chapters have their own websites as well.
“To conserve, maintain, protect, and restore the soil, forest, water, and other natural resources of the United States and other lands; to promote means and opportunities for the education of the public with respect to such resources and their enjoyment and wholesome utilization.”