Conservation Currents

In This Issue

Major Win in Senate Farm Bill, Challenges Loom in House

The League and a diverse coalition of conservation, hunting and angling, and sustainable agriculture groups won a major victory in June when the Senate approved an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill re-establishing the connection between conservation compliance and federal subsidies for crop insurance premiums. The bi-partisan vote (52-47) is a clear victory for conservation and taxpayers.

Wheat field erosion in WashingtonTaxpayer subsidies for crop insurance premiums have steadily grown, totaling $7.4 billion in 2011. However, unlike many traditional farm support payments, eligibility for crop insurance premium subsidies is not tied to meeting basic conservation standards known as "conservation compliance." These standards are designed to reduce soil erosion and conserve wetlands.

This disconnect is even more worrisome because the Senate Farm Bill eliminates many traditional support programs (which had conservation requirements), instead placing greater emphasis on crop insurance as the means of providing taxpayer support to farmers. The Senate amendment addressed this problem by applying existing conservation compliance standards to crop insurance premium payments. (Read more about this issue in our "Insuring" Farming and Conservation Success fact sheet.)

The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to debate and vote its bill this month. The League is concerned about several provisions in a draft bill released by the committee July 5. Unlike the Senate bill, the House version does not include a nationwide Sodsaver provision to conserve native grasslands. Instead, it proposes a badly flawed regional approach limited to the prairie pothole region of the northern plains.

GrasslandNative grassland needs to be conserved across the country. Only portions of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and western Minnesota lie within the pothole region. As a result, under the House bill, different standards would apply to grassland conversion within the same state and even neighboring counties. That's not workable and it doesn't make sense. (Read our Sodsaver: Cost-Effective Conservation fact sheet for more details.)

This House bill also fails to address conservation compliance and crop insurance. Tackling that will require an amendment when the full House considers the bill. We rallied League members in support of the Senate amendment and will need to do the same to be successful on a House vote. Watch for Action Alerts on this and other Farm Bill issues and weigh in with your Representative. These issues affect conservation and taxpayers alike.

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IWLA Releases Second Wetlands Video

Neil BienNeil Bien is a South Dakota cattle rancher and a strong believer that agriculture and wetland conservation go hand-in-hand. His family has been ranching in South Dakota for three generations – maintaining healthy wetlands and grasslands as well as a profitable farm. He also makes a powerful case for a Sodsaver program. Learn more from this successful farmer, hunter, and conservationist.

For more information on what you can do to help conserve America's wetlands, visit our Protecting Clean Water Web page.

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League Farm Bill Report Delivered to House as Debate Begins

2012 Farm Bill Report coverAs the House of Representatives began to focus in earnest on the 2012 Farm Bill in late June, copies of the League's new Farm Bill report were distributed to every House office. "The 2012 Farm Bill: Stewardship, Prosperity and Fairness" highlights the League's top conservation, funding, and policy priorities for the Farm Bill – including a nationwide Sodsaver program and reconnecting conservation compliance with subsidies for crop insurance premiums – and provides extensive analysis and background on each one. This report is a great resource for policymakers and their staffs, the media, and League members.

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House Takes Aim at Clean Water and Wetland Protections

Corvallis OR streamThis June, the U.S. House of Representatives continued its attack on Clean Water Act protections for streams, wetlands, and drinking water supplies for 117 million Americans. Some in the House are dusting off amendments from last year, which never became law, and using them again to delay or completely derail efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin restoring longstanding protections for our waters. House versions of annual budget bills for the Corps and EPA block any progress and one committee approved a separate bill doing the same. These roadblocks are especially ironic as the country celebrates the 40th anniversary of passage of the Clean Water Act this year.

Please stay tuned for Action Alerts on this issue. League members and supporters need to tell Congress to stop blocking progress on badly needed clean water policy. (You can read more about threats to water resources on our Protecting Clean Water Web page.)

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Corps Report Supports League Positions on Upper Mississippi

Melvin Price Dam, Alton, ILIn June, the Corps of Engineers published a report for Congress, U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization: Preparing for Post-Panamax Vessels. The report contains several key recommendations for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway (UMR-IWW) system. Most notably for the League, the report opposes lock expansion on the UMR-IWW and opposes placing more burden on taxpayers to fund the inland waterways system – two key issues on which the League has been actively engaged. This is a great victory for the Upper Mississippi River basin and for the League and our partner groups.

The League applauds the Corps for developing a responsible and fair report that recommends steps to protect the UMR from unnecessary construction that will hurt the environment and rob taxpayers. For details on our opposition to lock and dam expansion on the river, read our "Big Price-Little Benefit" report online.

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IWLA National Convention: July 18-20

Membership awards breakfast - Des Moines 2011Ikes from across the country will gather in Lincoln, Nebraska, next week to network, share ideas, hear great speakers, learn "what works," and have some fun! We'll have all the great convention events you love plus dynamic new workshops and a dinner hosted by the Lincoln Chapter. Our Youth Convention will offer a mix of conservation and outdoor recreation. Visit the convention Web page for more details.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Douglas Brinkley, Award-Winning Historian and Author
Douglas Brinkley has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "America's new past master." His book, The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, was an instant New York Times best-seller and won a National Outdoor Book Award. As the convention's keynote speaker, Brinkley will address the history of conservation in the United States – and the role of the Izaak Walton League in many of our nation's conservation victories.

FEATURED SPEAKER: Bob Marshall, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist
Bob Marshall is a veteran reporter and columnist whose work for The Times-Picayune has earned two Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other national awards. Marshall is also the conservation editor for Field & Stream magazine. At the League's convention, Marshall will discuss the political and economic forces in America that threaten to undo generations of conservation work and billions of dollars spent to build and protect the habitat base that supports the world's best public outdoor experiences.

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Minnesota IWLA 90th Anniversary Celebration: August 25

Minnesota State FairJoin fellow Minnesota Ikes for dinner and a silent auction to benefit conservation efforts in Minnesota and across the country. Keynote speaker Don Shelby (former anchor for WCCO television), is an actor, environmental reporter, and dynamic speaker. The event will be hosted by Dave Zentner, member of the League's McCabe Chapter and past national president. Auction items will include hunting, fishing, and camping gear; adventure tours; and other valuable items. (One lucky winner will take home a limited-edition IWLA 90th anniversary Henry Golden Boy rifle.)

Come for the League celebration – stay for the Minnesota State Fair! Hotel rooms will be discounted for League members, and the hotel will offer discounted tickets and a free shuttle to the State Fair for hotel guests.

You can find more information and purchase event tickets online or call the Minnesota Division office at (651) 221-0215.

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Log Into the League

Did you know that you can now 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. It's the easiest way to stay in touch with the League.

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

90 Years of Defending Outdoor America

To commemorate the League's 90th anniversary, we are proud to announce our "$90 for 90" campaign. Donate $90 or more to the League, and you will receive our limited-edition Snapshots in Conservation anthology.

Snapshots in Conservation booklet

Your contribution will also support the League's national conservation work. Please visit the League Web site for more information.

Resource of the Month: Tabletop Display

IWLA tabletop display

Having an event at a state fair, carnival, outdoor expo, or other venue? Check with your state division about the availability of a tabletop display – many divisions have their own (California, Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia) – or contact Marybeth Garrett at IWLA headquarters to arrange to borrow one. Partial UPS shipping and insurance fees may be required.

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.

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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

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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