Conservation Currents
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In This Issue

Last Call for Chapter Award Nominations

Oscar statueIt's awards season! Now that the Oscars have been handed out, it's time to nominate the chapters and volunteers who are advancing conservation and outdoor recreation across the country. It may not be a gold statue, but you will get a nice certificate or plaque!

  • Tobin Volunteer Appreciation Award: Give a "Best Actor" nod to the most dedicated Ike at your chapter.
  • Defenders Chapter Achievement Award: Has your chapter been "Directing" successful conservation, outdoor recreation, and youth activities locally? Recognize your team with an award for the whole chapter.

Nomination Deadline: March 15. Visit the League's Awards Web page for nomination forms and more details. Questions? Contact Tara Scibelli at (800) IKE-LINE (453-5463) x255 or e-mail

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March Webinar Series: "Youth in the Outdoors"

Brother pulling sisterJoin League staff for FREE webinars on developing youth programs that create positive, educational nature experiences. Together, we can re-connect this "lost generation" of children with the outdoors. (Webinar = a seminar on the Web! All you need to participate is a computer and a connection to the Internet.)

Conservation's Future: Why We Must Re-Connect Children to Nature
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Part one of our webinar series gives an overview of the challenges we face, which is crucial to designing innovative, effective ways to restore the "nature" of childhood.

Engaging Youth in the Outdoors
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Part two of our webinar series provides practical, how-to advice for youth programs – from activity ideas to the nuts and bolts of program management.

Youth Programs That Work
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Our final webinar delves deeper into what makes a successful youth program, with lessons learned from League chapters across the country.

Click each title above to register online and receive specifics for joining each webinar, all of which take place at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Questions? E-mail Rebecca Wadler at

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IWLA National Convention Keynote Speaker Announced

Don't miss the Ike event of the year: July 15-18 in Anaheim, California. Share "what works" with chapters from across the country, hear about current conservation issues, and have a little fun!

Marjorie Swann, D.Phil, Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University

"Izaak Walton: Founding Father of the Conservation Movement"

In April, an exciting new edition of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler will be published by Oxford University Press, complete with a new introduction and extensive notes by editor Marjorie Swann (who specializes in 17th century literature and culture). In this book, Walton imagines how men might create a new society through their shared experience and stewardship of the natural world.

Walton and his book about the art of fishing inspired the Izaak Walton League's founders in 1922 and continue to inspire Ikes today. At our national convention, Marjorie Swann will discuss Walton's pioneering environmental vision and its relevance today.

For more convention highlights and hotel information, visit our 2014 National Convention Web page.

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Izaak Walton League Makes a Splash with the Army Corps

Thanks to everyone who submitted comments last month on Army Corps of Engineers activities on the Middle Mississippi River. The League and our partners generated almost 20,000 comments from members and concerned citizens. Your voice counts!

DikesThe Corps had been relying on an Environmental Impact Statement completed back in 1976 for Mississippi River work. Using this outdated information, the Corps has built at least 380 new river training structures in the Middle Mississippi since 1980, including 40,000 feet of wing dikes and bendway weirs. The Corps argues that these structures are cost effective and create a more diverse stream bed, but the Corps' St. Louis District has not documented either adverse or beneficial impacts of these structures.

However, more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies reveal that river training structures constructed by the Corps significantly increase flood risks for riverside communities and have increased flood levels by up to 15 feet in some locations.

The Corps has not responded to the Middle Mississippi public comments yet, so we don't know if the environmental review will be expanded to the entire Upper Mississippi River – something other Army Corps districts working on the Upper Mississippi River say needs to be done. And we don't know if the Corps will initiate an independent review of the river training structures to evaluate their safety. We hope the Corps will stop building these structures until this independent review can be completed.

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Farm Bill Battles Still To Be Fought; March 12 Webinar Highlights Challenges Ahead

Green barley fieldsThe inclusion of conservation compliance – linking basic conservation requirements to crop insurance premium subsidies paid to farmers through Farm Bill programs – in the 2014 Farm Bill is clearly cause for celebration. However, that victory does not mean the battle is over.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must now develop regulations and guidance for program implementation, compliance, and administration. Many provisions in the wetland conservation program are vague and require clarification. Enforcement responsibilities also need to be addressed. A new wetlands mitigation program provides USDA with wide-ranging discretion and authority to create an agriculture mitigation banking program.

How these issues are decided and programs are structured will be critical to the overall effectiveness and success of the conservation compliance program. We need League members and supporters to stay engaged to ensure our celebration was not premature.

Want to know more about conservation compliance? Join IWLA Agriculture Program Director Bill Wenzel and the American Farmland Trust for a webinar on Wednesday, March 12, for details on how the conservation compliance program works, how it benefits wildlife and outdoor recreation – and what we need to do now to ensure a strong program is enacted by USDA. Register online today!

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Preserving Wilderness Values in South Dakota Grasslands

Cheyenne River ButteThe League expressed our support for legislation to designate three areas of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland in southwest South Dakota as Conservation Management Areas to preserve these remote and beautiful landscapes and the backcountry recreational opportunities they offer. The designation would allow most existing uses of these lands to continue – including grazing and range management – while ensuring that their irreplaceable value for wildlife, hunting, rare Great Plains backcountry experiences, and other uses will not be further diminished.

State and national League leaders sent letters to the South Dakota congressional delegation and Governor Dennis Daugaard in support of this effort. For more information on this issue, visit the South Dakota Wild Grassland Coalition Web site.

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Clean Water Rule Coming Soon?

Stones in waterThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could finally release a rule this spring to clarify which waters of the United States are protected by the Clean Water Act. Since 2000, at least 20 million wetland acres and nearly 60 percent of U.S. stream miles have been without federal protection from pollution and destruction.

There will be a public comment period when the draft rule is released. Hunters, anglers, and other outdoorsmen and women need to mobilize in support of these protections. Clean water is not only important for drinking water and wildlife, it provides the basis for all of our waterborne recreational pursuits such as fishing and boating, which in turn provide a big economic boost to the communities where they take place.

For more information about this issue, visit the League's Protecting Clean Water Web page.

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Sportsmen Bill on the Move

90th anniversary trap shootThis may be the year that a package of bills reflecting the interests of shooting, hunting, angling, and conservation groups makes it through Congress. The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014, introduced by Senators Kay Hagin (NC) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), is a package of measures that reflect the interests of sportsmen and women, including:

  • Leaving regulation of lead ammunition and fishing tackle up to individual states.
  • Ensuring most federal lands are open to target shooting, hunting, and fishing, including wilderness and near-wilderness areas.
  • Permanently authorizing electronic duck stamps.
  • Allocating 1.5 percent of Land and Water Conservation Funds to improving access to federal public lands for outdoor recreation.

A similar bill already passed the House of Representatives but contains provisions the League does not support.

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Last Chance for IWLA Scholarships – Application Deadline April 1

LesniakWhat college student couldn't use $2,500 toward school expenses?! We're looking for college students pursuing conservation- or environment-related majors who are:

  • Previous IWLA chapter/division scholarship recipients
  • OR
  • Current IWLA members or children of IWLA members

Each year, the Izaak Walton League offers two $2,500 scholarships for qualified college juniors or seniors. Application Deadline: April 1st. You can find application forms and more details on the League Web site.

Questions? E-mail Earl Hower, IWLA Director of Chapter Relations, at or call (800) IKE-LINE x216.

IWLA national scholarships are made possible with financial support from League members and a generous annual grant from the Izaak Walton League of America Endowment, Inc.

Photo: 2013 scholarship winner Alexandra Lesniak.

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IWLA in the News

Here are a few places the League recently showed up in the press:

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Support the League Through a Gift in Your Will

One of the simplest ways to make a gift to the League is through your will. Bequests can take the form of cash, securities, life insurance, land, or buildings. Please visit our Web site for details and a free brochure on how to set up your bequest.

Resource of the Month: IWLA Chapter BrochuresChapter Brochure

Want to get the word out about your chapter? Our IWLA chapter brochure template is free and easy to use.

Pre-printed color brochures offer background information on the League with space for you to highlight your chapter activities.

Visit the League Web site for an order form and downloadable templates.

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

When forwarding Conservation Currents to others, remove the "Manage Your League Subscriptions" link at the bottom so others don't have access to your League e-mail preferences. Contact Dawn Merritt at the e-mail address above for other distribution options. If you are not receiving this newsletter directly from the League, sign up here.

Read previous issues of Conservation Currents.

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.

PHOTO CREDITS: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2), (1), FreeDigitalPhotos/photostock (1), University of Kansas (1), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1), South Dakota Wild Grassland Coalition (1), FreeDigitalPhotos/Stoonn (1), Izaak Walton League of America (1), Alexandra Lesniak (1)

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