Izaak Walton League Press Releases

League Member Les Monostory a National Finalist for Field & Stream's Heroes of Conservation (9/29/10)

GAITHERSBURG, Maryland – Izaak Walton League member Les Monostory (Fayetteville, New York) is one of the six national finalists for Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation Award. Monostory will be honored on October 6 when Field & Stream hosts its fifth annual Heroes of Conservation Awards gala in Washington, D.C.
Field & Stream created this national program in 2005 to recognize sportsmen and women dedicated to conserving fish, wildlife, and habitat. The magazine has profiled the conservation efforts of more than 50 men and women from across the nation since introducing the Heroes of Conservation program.
Les Monostory has been working to reclaim New York’s Onondaga watershed for more than 40 years. “I started fishing when I was 9 years old and I never lost my interest and excitement in fishing,” Monostory recalls. “That’s part of what got me involved in protecting and preserving streams and lakes.”
Located near Syracuse, New York – a hub of chemical plants during the industrial revolution – Onondaga Lake was labeled one of the country’s most polluted lakes in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. “When I got involved with the lake cleanup, the lake was off limits to fishing and boating,” Monostory reports. “For years it had been used as a dump for municipal and industrial waste.” Monostory devoted himself to ridding Onondaga Lake of industrial pollution. As part of that effort, he helped create Project Watershed, which engages students of all ages in cleaning up local waterways and monitoring water quality. Monostory and other project volunteers are educating tomorrow’s conservation leaders and working with them to solve today’s conservation problems.
In 1991, Les Monostory and fellow Izaak Walton League members began monitoring the water quality in Beartrap Creek – a tributary of Onondaga Lake. When they documented a sharp decline in the creek’s water quality, they alerted local authorities. State scientists confirmed the problem: The water was contaminated with large quantities of ethylene glycol, an airplane deicer. The chemical was traced to Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport. Thanks to the volunteers’ monitoring data and advocacy efforts, the airport agreed to build a deicer reclamation and treatment facility. This is just one of the many small victories that have brought Lake Onondaga back from the dead. By 2008, the Project Watershed stream survey team found a significant concentration of crayfish and darter minnows near the restored areas on Beartrap Creek – an indication that restoration efforts were improving water quality.
“Undoing more than a century’s worth of municipal and industrial contamination is not an easy process,” says Monostory. But that hasn’t kept him from trying. According to one Project Watershed volunteer, “The real legacy that Les leaves behind isn’t the cleaner creek. It’s the knowledge he gives to us and the dedication to use it.”
“I'm certainly honored to be nominated for the Field & Stream Heroes of Conservation Award,” Les Monostory says. “I'm also proud of the accomplishments of the Izaak Walton League’s Central New York Chapter and my fellow Ikes that led to my nomination. If I'm a ‘hero,’ then we surely have a lot of them within the Izaak Walton League!”
Watch Field & Stream interviews with Les Monostory and Project Watershed volunteers on the Heroes of Conservation Web page at www.fieldandstreamextras.com/heroes/videos.php (scroll down to click on Episodes 3 and 4). Read the full story of Project Watershed’s founding and successes at www.iwla.org/projectwatershed.pdf

Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America (www.iwla.org) protects America's outdoors through education, community-based conservation and promoting outdoor recreation. 

For more information and to schedule an interview with Les Monostory, please contact:
Dawn Merritt, Izaak Walton League of America
(301) 548-0150 x 220

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