Conservation Currents

In This Issue


Farm Bill Budget Talks Stalled

Farm chemical sprayerLast week, congressional agriculture leaders missed a self-imposed deadline for drafting recommendations on how to cut $23 billion from the nation's agriculture programs over the next 10 years. The House and Senate agriculture committees created a joint panel with four members who are working behind closed doors to finalize these recommendations in time to be considered by the congressional "super committee" on deficit reduction.

The League is working to ensure national agriculture policy supports stewardship, prosperity, and fairness. As part of that effort, we are seeking basic conservation requirements for all recipients of taxpayer subsidies for agriculture programs – including crop insurance – and adequate conservation investments to continue wetland restoration and grassland protection programs, including a national Sodsaver provision.

We will update you when the agriculture program recommendations are finalized and send out Action Alerts on critical issues that require League members and supporters to take action.

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Favorable Review of Renewables

Windmill against blue skyMinnesota established a nation-leading renewable energy standard in 2007 that directs the state's electric utilities to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025. How's that working out for Minnesota? The utilities are on track to meet their benchmarks, and most are tapping into cost-competitive wind projects across the Midwest. Minnesota policymakers now want to know whether those renewable resources drive up rates for utility customers.

According to analysis by League staff, recent reports filed by Minnesota utilities show that for most utilities, acquiring renewable energy has had either minimal price impacts (less than one percent increase) or no impact on prices at all. Some utilities stated that they would have procured renewables regardless of the state requirements because renewables are simply the optimal choice for least-cost, least-risk portfolios. A few utilities modeled future impacts of the renewable electricity standard, looking at a portfolio with additional renewables versus one with no additional renewables, and found that a portfolio with renewable energy may be cheaper for the utility and its ratepayers in future years.

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Creek Freaks Web Site Launch

League members know that today's youth are not as connected with nature as previous generations. At school and at home, kids do not have the opportunity for free play and are spending less time outdoors. But these connections with the natural world are critical to a life-long commitment to conservation.

Creek Freaks erosion experimentOur new Creek Freaks Web site can help you connect youth with the outdoors – not by telling them to choose between technology and outdoor play, but by harnessing technology to forge those connections. The Creek Freaks Web site provides a wealth of educational information on waterways and tools for sharing water quality data across the nation. This site was developed specifically for youth ages 10-14 – the perfect age at which to build a lifelong love of the outdoors and respect for nature.

Youth (and the adults working with them) can post photos and videos of "their" creeks to the Web site. Just as important, "Creek Freaks" can post their water quality ratings and track changes in data – and visitors can check out data for every creek in the Creek Freaks system. Which macroinvertebrates were found in the water (and what water quality rating do they add up to)? How high is the dissolved oxygen level? Are the stream banks eroded? You can find answers to these questions and more – and post your own – on the Creek Freaks Web site.

The Creek Freaks project and Web site were developed by the League in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program; and U.S. Forest Service.

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Corps Seeks Comments on Missouri River Operating Plan

Missouri River sandbar by PoncaThe Army Corps of Engineers held public meetings in eight cities throughout the Missouri River basin to discuss the 2011-2012 draft Annual Operating Plan for the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System. The Annual Operating Plan provides a framework for regulating the river's reservoir system and the dams on that system. The draft Annual Operating Plan is available for review on the Corps of Engineers' Web site (PDF link).

The draft includes plans to release the remainder of the floodwaters stored from this year's historic flood event and return the Mainstem Reservoir System to the base of its annual flood control pool prior to the start of the 2012 runoff season. The Corps plans to continue releasing stored floodwaters before next spring to prepare the system to capture runoff from melting plain and mountain snow next year.

You can use sample comments on the League's online Advocacy Center or e-mail your own comments to Missouri.Water.Management@nwd02.usace.army.mil. Comments are due to the Corps of Engineers by November 25.

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Healthy Kids Outdoors Act Introduced in Congress

Kids outsideLast week, U.S. Representative Ron Kind (WI) and Senator Mark Udall (CO) introduced the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act (HR 3353/S 1802), which will support state and local efforts to connect children and their families with the outdoors. Working through the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the League helped craft this bill and ensured that it specifically recognizes that hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting activities get kids outside and connect them with conservation.

The legislation supports partnerships between state and local governments and nonprofits such as Izaak Walton League chapters to connect children and their families with a wide range of outdoor activities and places, from city parks to League chapters. You can read more about the bill on the League Web site.

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The World at 7 Billion

Housing developmentOn October 31, the world population is widely estimated to have hit the 7 billion mark. Just 12 years ago we were talking about reaching 6 billion, and back in the 1960's there was only half that number – about 3 billion. The billions of people that have been added to the planet in the last 60 years are putting increased strain on the world's ecosystems and natural resources – and it is quite possible that we will reach a world population of 8 billion by just 2025.

To decrease the likelihood that this growth trajectory will be catastrophic to our natural resources, leaders around the world are focusing renewed attention on addressing the environmental and social impacts of population growth. As our numbers grow in the years ahead, there is still much that must be done to ensure that we can live together equitably on a healthy planet. To learn more about the impact of 7 billion people, read "Seven Ways Seven Billion Affect the Planet" by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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IWLA Officer Report Forms Due

Officer Report FormChapter Officers: It's not too late to send your 2011-2012 Officer Report Forms to the IWLA national office! These forms are used to create the annual League directory and let us know who to contact for important League issues. So it's critical that we have the most updated information available.

You can download the Officer Report Form from the League's Chapter Tools Web page or e-mail members@iwla.org to request a copy. Thank you for your help.

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Protect Outdoor America While You Work

Earthshare logo

Check CFC #10620 on your workplace giving form if you are a federal employee. Or look for EarthShare in your workplace giving campaign materials if you work for a private corporation or local government agency. It's one of the easiest ways to conserve outdoor America for the future generations!

For more information or to start a workplace campaign, contact develop@iwla.org.


SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER
Young Ikes Activity Books

Young Ikes Activity Book 6-8

Place your order by December 1st and get 50 extra activity books FREE!


Recycling for Charity

Have an old cell phone, camera, laptop, iPod, or other gadget you're no longer using? You can keep these electronics out of a landfill and help the League in the process!

The Izaak Walton League of America is now part of the Recycling for Charities program. For each wireless electronic item donated, Recycling for Charities will contribute a minimum of one dollar (more depending on the item) to the League.

The process is easy. Visit the Recycling for Charities Donation page and select "Izaak Walton League of America" in the charity drop-down box. Print out a shipping label and tax donation form, affix the label to a box, and mail in your donated electronics. Your product donation is tax deductible, so that can help offset your mailing costs.

Want to do more? Hold an electronics recycling drive at your chapter or a community gathering spot. Together, we can conserve the environment and further the important work of the Izaak Walton League.


Support the Izaak Walton League Tax-Free Through Your IRA

If you're an IRA owner age 70½ or older, here's a great opportunity to support the conservation programs you care about: Through the end of 2011, you can make tax-free distributions of up to $100,000 from an IRA to qualified charitable organizations like the League! Visit our Web site for details.


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Contact Information

If you have any questions about this newsletter or other IWLA programs, please contact:

Dawn Merritt
Communications Director
707 Conservation Lane
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(301) 548-0150 ext. 220
dmerritt@iwla.org

Founded in 1922, the
Izaak Walton League of America
protects America's outdoors through community-based conservation, education, and the promotion of outdoor recreation.


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