Rockingham - Harrisonburg Chapter
The Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA), one of the oldest conservation organizations in the United States, is a diverse group of 50,000 men and women dedicated to protecting our nation's soil, air, woods, waters and wildlife. Our strength lies in our grassroots, commonsense approach to solving local, regional and national conservation issues. Our interests span the spectrum of outdoor recreation and conservation activities, from angling and birding to stream monitoring, wildlife photography and hunting. But we all share one major goal: to protect and use sustainably America's rich resources to ensure a high quality of life for all people, now and in the future.
The Izaak Walton League is first and foremost an organization of active and dedicated volunteer conservationists who help protect and restore the country’s natural resources at the local, state and national levels.
The League has divisions in 21 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming) and more than 300 local chapters located in 32 states.
The conservation accomplishments of IWLA local, state and at-large members, often referred to as "Ikes", span more than seven decades. These League members have made contributions large and small, from helping pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act to providing hunter education and safety training to a new generation of hunters.
During the 1920s and 1930s, division and chapter members helped establish nonpartisan state game commissions or conservation departments in several states. League state and local groups during this era also were instrumental in securing some of the country’s first municipal wastewater treatment facilities.
Later, during the 1950s and 1960s, these groups started local programs that later became national initiatives aimed at controlling soil erosion, reducing highway litter and protection local stream water quality.
Today, the League’s chapters and divisions are continuing this tradition of conservation leadership, organizing statewide stream monitoring programs, outdoor ethics campaigns, youth education promotions and wetlands protection efforts, among other projects. They also are involved with many of the country’s major conservation events including Arbor Day, Earth Day, National Fishing Week and National Hunting and Fishing Day.
Many IWLA chapters who own or lease facilities have nature trails, fishing ponds, shooting ranges or other attractions. These chapters are able to provide outdoor recreation and educational opportunities to members with a wide range of interests, abilities and special needs.
The Izaak Walton League was formed "to save outdoor America for future generations." We are one of the oldest conservation organization's and the first to set an aggressive course to defend wild America by changing public policy. Almost every major conservation program that America takes for granted today can be traced directly to a League activity or initiative.
In 1922, 54 sportsmen met in Chicago, Ill., to discuss an issue of common concern: the deteriorating conditions of America's top fishing streams. Uncontrolled industrial discharges, raw sewage and soil erosion threatened to destroy many of the nation's most productive waterways.
Within hours, the group formed an organization to combat water pollution and other environmental abuses. As a constant reminder of this goal, they named the group after Izaak Walton, the 17th-century English angler-conservationist who wrote the literary classic "The Compleat Angler." Today, the Izaak Walton League of America's 50,000 members fight to protect the nation's soil, air, woods, waters and wildlife.
Ensuring good water quality remains the IWLA's top goal. Since organizing the first national water pollution inventory in 1927 -- at the request of President Calvin Coolidge -- the League has won many important clean water battles. League members, or "Ikes," in the 1940s helped pass the first federal water pollution control act, followed by a decade-long campaign against acid mine drainage.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the League launched the Save Our Streams Program and broke the political ground necessary for passage of the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act. Currently, Ikes are leading the fight to fund and strengthen the Clean Water Act during its reauthorization and to fend off efforts in Congress to weaken wetlands protection provisions.
The League also spearheaded protection of public lands, such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, Everglades National Park, the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, and Isle Royale National Park. In addition, the IWLA led the effort to create the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the major source of revenue for parkland acquisition and recreational facilities.
Wildlife protection remains a major focus as well. National projects include organizing the 1926 campaign to protect black bass, a late 1980s purchase of a helicopter to help wildlife law officers catch waterfowl poachers in the Gulf of Mexico, and a 19-year outdoor ethics campaign to improve behavior by outdoor recreationists.
Time after time, Ikes have won battles against all odds. There was never enough money. There were internal disagreements and even personal disputes, but through it all, the League kept focused on its mission: To conserve, maintain, protect and restore the forests, water and other natural resources and to strive for the wise stewardship of the land, its resources and humans' sharing in it.
During the past 75 years, no other conservation group in the country has had such a profound effect on the nation's conservation policies.
During the next 75 years, conservation will not keep pace with the daunting array of new challenges we face without more participation from America's political heartland. The conservation voice of the League is needed now more than ever. Our members and supporters recognize that the League's tradition of grassroots conservation activism will help ensure a clean, enjoyable environment for future generations.