League Lines: Digging in Deep

Radford Chapter_ Lake Front Restoration

Virginia >> The Radford Chapter in southwest Virginia had to dig deep to conserve the chapter’s lake-front property and keep the chapter going.

The chapter owns 32 acres of land on Claytor Lake — a 21-mile reservoir created when the New River was dammed for a hydroelectric power plant. Chapter members have access to a campground as well as a dock that provides boat access to the lake. Founded in 1929, the chapter has worked to minimize the impact of its members on the property. No permanent buildings are allowed (other than a bath house and the chapter meeting room). Multiple generations of Ikes gather there on weekends and throughout the summer to enjoy the outdoors. Monthly dinner meetings also include conservation activities with the youth that benefit the land and wildlife on the chapter property.

The future of the chapter was put in jeopardy when the county condemned the 1950s-era drinking water well due to its proximity to a septic field. And things went downhill from there. The chapter paid for a new well, but in 2008, that new well was condemned due to the presence of e. coli bacteria and other materials in the water. At that point, the chapter faced a tough choice: Close the chapter and vacate the property or find a way to pay for a second new well. The vote was unanimous. Chapter members wanted to continue to support the Radford Chapter and the Izaak Walton League of America.

This time, the chapter hired a geologist to help them site the well and an engineering firm to build it. When water was finally flowing, chapter members monitored the site for 72 straight hours to perform hourly testing of the water coming out of the ground.

Still, any member you ask will tell you the expense was well worth preserving the chapter and their little piece of heaven on Claytor Lake. Now a new generation of Ikes will grow up with a love of the out- doors and a commitment to conserving natural resources.

The total cost for the 2003 and 2008 well projects was almost $185,000 — a big expense for a chapter of just 165 members to absorb. How did they manage the costs? The chapter levied three special assessments on the members — a move approved by the members themselves — and received a loan from the Virginia Division. The chapter also had to raise annual dues significantly and for the foreseeable future until all the bills are paid off.