CONSERVATION CURRENTS JANUARY 2014

Conservation Currents
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In This Issue


Survey Says: League Chapters Achieving Results

Whitman's Pond DerbyThe League's new strategic plan includes ambitious conservation and outdoor recreation goals. To measure our progress toward achieving them, we need to establish a starting point – or baseline. Based on information from about 115 chapters for 2013, the League has some impressive results on which to build, including:

  • More than 6,800 children participated in fishing events hosted by chapters in 2013
  • More than 7,000 children enjoyed shooting sports during public events at chapters in 2013
  • 30 chapters are monitoring water quality on 113 streams

We know the League is achieving even more because baseline numbers reflect input from less than half of our chapters. Other chapters are doing equally good work – and we encourage every chapter to share their successes with us.

Survey results also indicate areas where we can improve. For example, about 75 percent of reporting chapters indicated that they are not doing stream monitoring. The League pioneered citizen-based stream monitoring. With threats to water quality growing across the country, our members can once again lead the way in protecting our waters. The League's Save Our Streams (SOS) program has a wide range of available resources, and League staff can provide onsite training to help members get started.

More than 80 percent of reporting chapters are not holding Earth Day or National Hunting and Fishing Day public events. These events offer excellent opportunities to raise chapter visibility, educate the public about conservation issues, and introduce youth and adults to hunting, fishing, and shooting sports. The League is committed to helping chapters plan and host public events on both of these nationally recognized dates.

You can read more results in the next issue of Outdoor America, the League's quarterly member magazine. We're off to a good start. Together, we can build on these results by working toward our common goals.

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Save the Date: "Youth in the Outdoors" Webinar Series

Fields Road Third GradeJoin League staff for FREE trainings on running a successful youth program. These webinars will help you develop a program that provides youth with positive, enjoyable, and educational nature experiences using a variety of games and activities.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
7:00-8:00pm Eastern Time
The Importance of Connecting Youth with the Outdoors: Together we can reach the "lost generation"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
7:00-8:00pm Eastern Time
Engaging Youth in the Outdoors: Practical "how to" advice for your youth program, from activity ideas to the nuts and bolts of program management

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
7:00-8:00pm Eastern Time
Youth Programs That Work: A look at successful programs from across the country and lessons learned

Look for registration information in the next issue of "Conservation Currents." Questions? E-mail Rebecca Wadler at rwadler@iwla.org.

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New Clean Water Staff, Training Opportunities

Stream monitoringThe new year brings a new staff member to the League's national office. Please join us in welcoming Erin Johnson as our Clean Water Fellow. Erin will train League members, after-school program/camp leaders, and teachers how to use our Creek Freaks curriculum and directly engage kids in Creek Freaks. She will also support League chapters and local groups that want to begin or expand stream monitoring initiatives. Erin graduated with honors from Elizabethtown College with a degree in Environmental Science and previously served as a Watershed Ambassador for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Creek Freaks Training Available: Want to start an outdoor education program but don't know where to begin? Looking for exciting hands-on activities for your youth program? League staff can provide you with training that includes stream ecology, conducting youth programs, and activities from the Creek Freaks curriculum. You will also receive follow-up technical support and a full set of Creek Freaks activity materials and stream monitoring equipment. Sign up today! Contact Erin Johnson at ejohnson@iwla.org or (301) 548-0150 x229.

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League Speaks Up for Clean Water

Prairie potholeIWLA Clean Water Program Director Leah Miller testified before the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Science Advisory Board in support of a new EPA report summarizing the science on the connections between streams, wetlands, and other waters. This report should ensure future decisions about how to keep America's waters clean are based on facts. And it augments the science supporting regulations EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers could soon propose to restore Clean Water Act protections to small streams and some wetlands.

In her comments, Miller provided examples in which League water quality monitors traced pollution problems to runoff and groundwater connections. "There is no direct pipe or channel linking these pollution sources with the waterways our volunteers monitored," said Miller. "Yet these pollutants entered the waterways through the same types of hydrologic connections that the report shows exist between waters that have lost Clean Water Act protections and larger waterways that are still protected. Our data show that pollution originating within small headwater tributaries contributes to the very significant water quality problems in larger waterways." She urged the panel "to consider the experience of thousands of volunteer monitors across the country as further evidence that we cannot protect the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of our large rivers without first protecting the small streams and wetlands that feed them."

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Water Resources Bill Stalls Out in Congress

Teal ducksMeetings between the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the Water Resources Development Act – which authorizes locks, dams, and other federal water projects – were cancelled after Thanksgiving because Congress reached an impasse during negotiations. We can only speculate about the specific disagreements because the meetings were carried out behind closed doors.

There is no word on the provisions to reduce public participation and environmental review of often damaging projects under the National Environmental Policy Act. There is also no word on any of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund changes that would require more projects to be built with public funds. Both provisions are opposed by the League, and each chamber's bill approaches these issues differently.

Talks may resume this month, which would allow more time for League supporters to talk with their elected officials about the bill. We will keep you updated on the bill's progress and its impact on water quality, outdoor recreation, and fish and wildlife.

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Maintaining Multiple Use for Backcountry Lands

Seekskadee National Wildlife RefugeThe League, along with our Oregon Division and Travelle Chapter in Wyoming, has endorsed the Sportsmen's BLM Backcountry Solution – a proposal to give the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) a tool to maintain backcountry landscapes for high-quality hunting, fishing, and other recreation experiences.

BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public lands, most of them in the western United States. Land management options currently favor either high-intensity industrial activities, such as oil and gas development, or complete preservation. The Backcountry Solution, which has been developed by a coalition of sportsmen's groups, will provide land managers with a middle-ground that safeguards intact fish and wildlife habitat, and associated hunting and fishing opportunities, while allowing reasonable land management and development activities. Logging, prescribed fire, and other vegetation management projects that improve habitat would be allowed. Energy development, pipelines, and utility corridors would have to be located outside area boundaries.

If you would like to lend your chapter's or division's support to this effort, please contact League Conservation Director Mike Leahy at mleahy@iwla.org.

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League Cautions U.S. State Department about Keystone XL Pipeline

Tar sands - AlbertaThe Keystone XL Pipeline has been one of the most high-profile energy debates in the country. The proposed pipeline would transport oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta through the U.S. heartland to Gulf Coast refineries for sale overseas or in the United States. Removing oil from tar sands is an energy-intensive process that releases more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than processes for developing oil from other sources.

In a letter to the U.S. State Department, the League conveyed our opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline until certain conditions are met, including a thorough review by all relevant regulatory bodies, fail-safe provisions such as double-wall pipes and leak detection monitors, and penalties to mitigate any damages to public and environmental health. We expressed support for the State Department's steps to consider the environmental impacts of the pipeline in the face of political pressure to approve it. We also encouraged transition to cleaner, renewable sources of home-grown energy.

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Offsetting Oil and Gas Impacts on North Dakota's Landscapes

Kildeer wellNatural gas extraction, including the use of hydraulic fracturing, is booming in North Dakota. It is also taking a toll on the state's landscape and wildlife – and the hunting and fishing opportunities they provide. The League has endorsed the Clean Water, Wildlife, and Parks Amendment, a ballot initiative to offset some of these impacts by dedicating five percent of the state's existing oil and gas extraction taxes to protect North Dakota's land and waters for future generations. The funds could be used to protect clean water, preserve unique natural areas, create parks and hunting and fishing sites, and create opportunities and places for youth to experience the outdoors. This effort is similar to successful campaigns in other states, including Minnesota, in which voters approved dedicating a small portion of state revenue to conserving natural resources and promoting sustainable outdoor recreation.

This amendment could also serve as a precedent for other states experiencing a boom in energy extraction.

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National Award Nominations Now Open

Fredericksburg-Rappahannock 2012 award at 2013 conventionVolunteers are the heart of the Izaak Walton League. Recognize the outstanding volunteers in your chapter and the outstanding work you have done over the past year. It's quick and easy. Following are award categories and deadlines:

  • Judge John W. Tobin Awards (Deadline: March 15, 2014)
  • Defenders Chapter Achievement Awards (Deadline: March 15, 2014)
  • National Awards (Deadline: June 1, 2014)
  • Chapter Member Recruitment Award (Deadline: June 1, 2014)

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

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IWLA Scholarship Application Deadline: April 1, 2014

2013 scholarship winner - LesniakDo you know a college student pursuing a conservation or an environment-related major? The Izaak Walton League offers two $2,500 scholarships for qualified college juniors or seniors. Specific requirements are available on the League Web site.

For more information about the application criteria and process, contact Earl Hower, IWLA Director of Chapter Relations, at ehower@iwla.org or call (800) IKE-LINE x216.

This national scholarship is made possible with financial support from League members and a generous annual grant from the Izaak Walton League of America Endowment, Inc.

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Recycling for Charity

IWLA Roadside SignHave 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 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.


Log Into the League

Did you know that you can manage your membership information and subscriptions preferences right on the League Web site? Grab your membership card and visit our home page. Click the "Login" button on the left-hand side and you can use your membership number to create a personalized login.

Not a League member yet? You can still create your own online account and sign up for our electronic communications.


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.

Mission Statement: To conserve, restore, and promote the sustainable use and enjoyment of our natural resources, including soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife.

Read previous issues of Conservation Currents.


PHOTO CREDITS: IStock (1), Izaak Walton League of America (6), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (2), Chris Young (1), Dru Oja Jay, Dominion (1), FreeDigitalPhotos/MR LIGHTMAN (1)

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