Izaak Walton League

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Izaak Walton League

In 1922, 54 sportsmen and sportswomenall concerned with the apparent destruction of American fishing waterwaysestablished the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA). They looked upon Izaak Walton, a seventeenth-century English fisherman and author of The Compleat Angler, as inspiration in protecting the waters of America. The Izaak Walton League has since widened its focus: as a major force in the American conservation movement, IWLA now pledges in its slogan "to defend the nation's soil , air, woods, water, and wildlife."

When sportsmen and sportswomen formed IWLA approximately 70 years ago, they worried that American industry would ruin fishing streams. Raw sewage, soil erosion , and rampant pollution threatened water and wildlife . Initially the League concentrated on preserving lakes, streams, and rivers. In 1927, at the request of President Calvin Coolidge, IWLA organized the first national water pollution inventory. Izaak Walton League members (called "Ikes") subsequently helped pass the first national water pollution control act in the 1940s. In 1969 IWLA instituted the Save Our Streams program, and this group mobilized forces to pass the groundbreaking Clean Water Act of 1972. The League did not only concentrate on the preservation of American waters, however. From its 1926 campaign to protect the black bass, to the purchase of a helicopter in 1987 to help game law officers protect waterfowl from poachers in the Gulf of Mexico, IWLA has also been instrumental in the preservation of wildlife. In addition, the League has fought to protect public lands such as the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, the Everglades National Park , and the Isle Royale National Park.

IWLA currently sponsors several environmental programs designed to conserve natural resources and educate the public. The aforementioned Save Our Streams (SOS) program is a grassroots organization designed to monitor water quality in streams and rivers. Through 200 chapters nationwide, SOS promotes "stream rehabilitation" through stream adoption kits and water pollution law training. Another program, Wetlands Watch, allows local groups to purchase, adopt, and protect nearby wetlands. Similarly, the Izaak Walton League Endowment buys land to save it from unwanted development. IWLA's Uncle Ike Youth Education program aims to educate children and convince them of the necessity of preserving the environment .A last major program from the League is its internationally acclaimed Outdoor Ethics program. Outdoor Ethics works to stop poaching and other illegal and unsportsmanlike outdoor activities by educating hunters, anglers, and others.

The League also sponsors and operates regional conservation efforts. Its Midwest Office, based in Minnesota, concentrates on preservation of the Upper Mississippi River region. The Chesapeake Bay Program is a major regional focus. Almost 25% of the "Ikes" live in the region of this estuary , and public education, awards, and local conservation projects help protect Chesapeake Bay. In addition the Soil Conservation Program focuses on combating soil erosion and groundwater pollution , and the Public Lands Restoration Task Force works out of its headquarters in Portland, Oregon, to strike a balance between forests and the desire for their natural resources in the West.

IWLA makes its causes known through a variety of publications. Splash, a product of SOS, enlightens the public as to how to protect streams in America. Outdoor Ethics, a newsletter from the program of the same name, educates recreationists to responsible practices of hunting , boating, and other outdoor activities. The League also publishes a membership magazine, Outdoor America, and the League Leader, a vehicle of information for IWLA's 2,000 chapter and division officers. IWLA has also produced the longestrunning weekly environmental program on television. Entitled Make Peace with Nature, the program has aired on PBS for almost 20 years and presents stories of environmental interest.

Having expanded its scope from water to the general environment, IWLA has become a vital force in the national conservation movement. Through its many and varied programs, the League continues to promote constructive and active involvement in environmental problems.

[Andrea Gacki ]



Izaak Walton League of America, 707 Conservation Lane, Gaithersburg, MD USA 20878 (301) 548-0150, Fax: (301) 548-0146, Toll Free: (800) IKE-LINE, Email: [email protected], <http://www.iwla.org>