Conservation Currents

In This Issue


Share Your Story to Raise League Visibility

Child fishingIzaak Walton League chapters conduct a wide range of conservation and outdoor recreation activities. Roadside clean-ups, stream monitoring, and fishing events for children are among the most common chapter activities.

Individually, each activity has a positive impact in the community. Add them all together, and the impact across the country is tremendous.

With a few facts from each chapter, we can tell a powerful story about the impact of the League nationwide, which will help us raise the visibility of the League with the media and policy-makers.

Please take just a few minutes to detail your chapter's conservation achievements in our online survey. Our goal is to collect this information quarterly and include it in the League's annual report, Web site, press releases, and social media outreach.

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Threats to Mississippi River Health

On March 20, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013. This bill not only rolls back current environmental protections, it also lacks common-sense provisions to ensure successful ecosystem restoration on the Upper Mississippi River.

View from HavanaA new Project Acceleration program would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to set mandatory deadlines for federal natural resource and environmental agencies to complete environmental reviews and permits. If permits are not completed by the Corps-specified deadline, the Corps would be allowed to fine agencies up to $20,000 per week. Allowing the Corps to set mandatory review deadlines backed by crippling penalties will undermine environmental review, which could allow damaging projects to move forward.

Additionally, WRDA 2013 does not contain any provisions to expand the geographic scope of the successful Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program. The effectiveness of this program has been constrained by artificial limits on where projects can be done along the river. Expanding restoration to include tributaries and bluffs is a simple, common-sense change that will help address the root causes of problems – such as nutrient runoff and erosion – that continue to plague the river, damaging fish and wildlife populations as well as outdoor recreation.

The full Senate could vote on the bill at the end of April or beginning of May. Please tell your Senators that you oppose Section 2033 (Project Acceleration) and that you want them to expand the Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program.

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Vanishing Wetlands and Grasslands: Your Photos Needed

Wetland being drainedWetlands play a critical role in our country's health and security. Prairie grasslands are important to our ranching economy and dramatically reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff that pollute America's waterways. Yet both resources are disappearing at an alarming rate.

The League is working to educate the public, media outlets, and policy-makers about the devastating impact of wetland and grassland losses on fish and wildlife habitat and water quality – and we need your help.

Can you identify examples of wetland and/or grassland losses near you? We need photos (aerial or ground level) and a brief summary of where the pictures were taken and the impact of this loss on the local environment. League staff will use your examples to create case studies to vividly demonstrate how these critical resources are vanishing from the landscape. Ideally, we will have a variety of case studies for each state.

Please e-mail information and photos to Bill Wenzel, IWLA Agriculture Program Director, at bwenzel@iwla.org or mail them to IWLA, 1619 Dayton Avenue, Suite 202, St. Paul, MN 55104. Questions? You can e-mail Bill Wenzel or call him at (651) 649-1446 x13.

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League Members Contribute to Strategic Planning

IWLA logoOver the past month, nearly 1,500 League members participated in our strategic planning process. This number includes 1,346 members who provided input through an online survey and 115 members – including chapter and division leaders and national directors – who attended town hall meetings or joined national conference calls. These League members shared their views about conservation, outdoor recreation, and organizational priorities and provided information about the issues and activities most important to them.

This member input is critically important and will help to inform the goals and objectives of a new, five-year strategic plan for the Izaak Walton League of America. The League's Executive Board will meet later this month to draft a plan, and then Ikes across the country will have the opportunity to review and comment on that draft.

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Taking Technology Outdoors

Child on a log with computerSolutions to today's conservation challenges often rely on STEM skills – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. So this year's National Environmental Education Week
(April 14-20, 2013) activities are focused on using technology to enhance environmental learning.

The League's Creek Freaks project is the perfect marriage of technology and conservation education. Rather than forcing kids to choose between technology and going outside, we harness technology to help them forge a connection with the world outdoors. The Creek Freaks Web site provides a wealth of educational information on waterways and tools for sharing water quality data across the nation. Youth (and the adults working with them) can post photos and videos as well as water quality data.

This project builds on the League's decades of success monitoring water quality and engaging citizens. Check out Creek Freaks today at www.creekfreaks.net.

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Senate Slated to Debate Firearms Legislation

U.S. Senate ChamberLast month, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee – which has jurisdiction over federal firearms policy – approved several firearms-related bills. These measures address background checks for purchases, a ban on "assault weapons," and firearms trafficking and straw purchases. The full U.S. Senate is expected to debate and vote on these and other bills concerning firearms this month.

The League is closely monitoring the policy-making process in Congress and the administration. We will evaluate proposals carefully and with certain principles in mind:

  • First, the focus must be on preventing people who are already prohibited by law from possessing firearms from getting them.
  • Second, proposals must be objective and not single out certain firearms based on their physical appearance or subjective terminology.
  • Finally, the national debate must address the many factors that contribute to violent crimes, including those that involve firearms.

The League intends to approach this debate as it does every issue – with careful analysis, a focus on the facts, respect for those with differing views, and common sense.

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National Award Deadline: June 1

Award at 2012 conventionThe League's national awards program offers all League members the opportunity to recognize their peers for lifelong conservation work at the local, regional, state, and national levels. It is also an opportunity to share "what works" for local conservation and outdoor recreation projects. Nomination Deadline: June 1, 2013.

  • National Awards: From new leaders to life-long conservation advocates, our national awards recognize members and supporting organizations for the work they do to accomplish the League's mission.
  • Member Recruitment Award: This award recognizes the chapter that has carried out the most effective membership recruitment and retention program.

Visit the League's National Awards Web page for nomination forms and more details. Questions? Contact Tara Scibelli at (800) IKE-LINE (453-5463) x255 or e-mail chapters@iwla.org.

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.


Resource of the Month:
Henry Repeating Arms IWLA Edition Rifles

Henry Repeating Arms IWLA Edition Rifle

Available for a chapter fundraiser, gift and training tool, or to add to your own collection.

Use this form (PDF) along with copy of FFL and chapter's payment to order these limited-edition firearms.


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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.


PHOTO CREDITS:
U.S. National Park Service - BWCAW (1), Izaak Walton League of America (3), Chris Young (1), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1),iStock (1), U.S. Architect of the Capitol (1)


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