About Us

Our Mission

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

Izaak Walton League Member Pledge

To strive for the purity of water, the clarity of air, and the wise stewardship of the land and its resources; to know the beauty and understanding of nature and the value of wildlife, woodlands, and open space; to the preservation of this heritage and to man's sharing in it.

I pledge myself as a member of the Izaak Walton League of America.

The Izaak Walton League is one of America’s oldest and most successful conservation organizations – and we are the only organization training, equipping, and coordinating volunteer water quality monitors on a national scale. These volunteers are the heart and soul of our common-sense conservation mission. Through member-driven bottom-up governance, the Izaak Walton League is protecting outdoor America in communities across the country, while working strategically at the national level to win critical conservation battles.

Help protect America's outdoors – become a League member today! You will help support the important conservation and advocacy work of the League and receive exclusive member benefits, including Outdoor America magazine, electronic newsletters, and advocacy alerts.

OUR WORK

Clean Water

The Izaak Walton League has been at the forefront of every major clean water battle in the United States, from a decades-long push for federal water pollution control in the 1940s to efforts today to restore Clean Water Act protections for critical streams and wetlands. League leaders helped conceive the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 and broke the political ground necessary for passage of the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act. League members around the country use our pioneering Save Our Streams program to monitor local waterways, plan restoration projects, and report water quality problems. Today, our clean water priorities include engaging youth in the outdoors, cleaning up nonpoint source pollution, and halting the spread of invasive species.

Learn more about our clean water work

Farm Policy

The Izaak Walton League recognizes that what we do on the land impacts the quality of our water. Our efforts to address soil erosion date back to 1937, when we called for a national program to retire fields in mountainous areas from agricultural use. We also pushed for state laws controlling indiscriminate application of agricultural chemicals. A decade before Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, we highlighted the long-term harm of DDT on fish and wildlife. We worked with Congress to encourage farmers to retire marginal farmland as “conservation reserves,” leading to creation of the Soil Bank Program in 1955 and the Sodbuster and Conservation Reserve Programs in 1985. We also supported programs to keep family farms in business. Today, we’re leading efforts to ensure taxpayer investments in farm programs are linked to common-sense conservation practices that protect our soil and water quality.

Learn more about our work for sustainable agriculture

Outdoor Recreation

The League has a long history of encouraging outdoor recreation, and of ensuring that people have access to natural areas where they can hunt, fish, hike, and paddle. We led the charge to create the Land and Water Conservation Fund and work today to ensure the Fund is used for its intended purposes: acquiring public land and creating local opportunities for outdoor recreation. We also spearheaded conservation of undeveloped lands and waters for the benefit of all Americans. Creation of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Superior National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and the Everglades and Isle Royale National Parks were largely the result of League efforts.

Get involved in outdoor recreation

Community-Based Conservation

Izaak Walton League chapters are rooted in communities across America, meeting local conservation challenges and working to introduce youth and families to conservation and outdoor recreation. Our members, known as “Ikes,” build nature trails, restore stream banks, plant trees and rain gardens, and prevent the spread of invasive species. Many chapters are community centers for archery and shooting sports and offer hunter education classes and fishing clinics to promote responsible outdoor behavior and activities. Our chapters also award more than $125,000 in scholarships each year to college students working toward natural resource degrees. This is just a fraction of what Ikes do.

Find a chapter near you

OUR HISTORY

At the turn of the 20th century, uncontrolled discharges of industrial waste and raw sewage, unrestricted logging, and soil erosion threatened to destroy the nation’s most productive waterways. The country’s forests, wetlands, and wilderness areas were quickly disappearing. In 1922, 54 sportsmen declared that it was “time to call a halt” to this destruction. Aware that action – not just talk – would be necessary to solve these problems, the group decided to form an organization to combat water pollution and protect the country’s woods and wildlife. As a reminder of their purpose, they named the organization after Izaak Walton, the 17th-century English angler-conservationist who wrote the literary classic The Compleat Angler.

The Izaak Walton League of America soon became the nation’s preeminent organization of hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts dedicated to sustainable use of our country’s natural resources. Almost every major, successful conservation program that America has in place today can be traced directly to a League activity or initiative. Today, our more than 40,000 members and 200 community-based chapters are building on the accomplishments of those who preceded them as defenders of the nation’s soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife.

A 3-Minute History of the Izaak Walton League

Decades of Conservation Success

More details about the League's history can be found in these articles written in 2012 for our 90th anniversary:

Our history did not stop in the mid-20th century – we just ran out of time to research additional articles!

OUR FUTURE

While our achievements are impressive, the challenges to America’s natural resources are far from solved – they have evolved. For example, we halted the unlimited dumping of industrial wastes and raw sewage into streams and rivers. However, we now face a tougher threat to clean water: uncontrolled runoff from yards, farms, and parking lots that carries pollution and excess nutrients into streams and lakes. As technology has improved our quality of life, it has also lured youth and adults away from the natural world and outdoor recreation, and the health of our environment continues to drop as a major concern for most Americans.

Today, the Izaak Walton League is working to advance conservation, engage people in outdoor recreation, and ultimately safeguard natural resources for the future in communities across the country. Working together, the members of the League are defending outdoor America for generations to come.


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