The Izaak Walton League of America is celebrating its 90th birthday this year. Actually, this is a belated birthday; the league was formed by a group of fishing enthusiasts after a meeting in Chicago on Jan. 14, 1922.
Those 54 men were concerned that America's streams were becoming fouled by industrial waste, raw sewage and soil erosion. The organization they founded to fight to protect water quality, wetlands, woods and wildlife is today a leading advocate for conservation and encourages young people and families to enjoy outdoor recreation. The league today is nationwide, and Iowa is the top of the list of state in membership.
The local Boone Valley Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America got its start back on March 31, 1953 with clubhouse and grounds located nine miles south of Webster City on the Beach Street blacktop. Current officers are Dave Gordon, president and Mike Bigelow, vice president. And if your hunting and fishing is better than your dad's was, you have organizations like the Ike's to thank.
We've come a long way
So, how have we come so far, so fast? In truth, it wasn't fast; it took 10,000 years or so. And from those misty eons, we've advanced from hunting and fishing for food to hunting and fishing for sport and programs like TIP, Catch and Release, Save Our Streams and others. I'd like to think that a guy by the name of Sir Izaak Walton had a hand in it. Yup, him again. Old Ike. he just shows up everywhere. But don't worry. I'm not going to make you read this book the "Compleat Angler," which you wouldn't like it anyway. It's too archaic. But Walton's book written in 1653 is still important. He codified what became the tradition of fishing for sport instead of for survival. You see in his day, "angling" on the other hand was someone who fished for financial gain. Even today, after all these years, he is the best-known symbol of all that is good about angling.
And Izaak Walton, and the organization itself "strives for the purity of water, the clarity of air, and wise use and stewardship of the land and its resources; to know the beauty and understanding of nature and the value of wildlife, woodlands and open spaces; to the preservation and to man's sharing in it." That's not a bad thing to have as a goal when you stop to think about it. Think about it. It never ceases to amaze me when I think about all the good these local organizations do for our community. The local Ike's chapter got its tiny beginnings on a small farm south of Webster City. The old barn is now the clubhouse. It has grown to include a trapshooting range, two pistol ranges, a rifle range of national benchrest status, qualification shooting facilities for both the police and sheriff's departments, and programs like sponsoring Department of Natural Resources hunter safety programs, National Rifle Association shooting programs, hosting 4-H state-level trapshooting and black powder shooting events, a natural wild prairie grassland, old west town, Field Days and providing shooting events for high school students and family fishing contests. From 54 members to 39,000 members; from one chapter to 250 chapters celebrating 90 years of defending outdoor America. One more time Happy birthday Ikes.
DES MOINES (AP) - A first-of-its kind study said Iowa's lakes are dirtier now than they were before farming and development arrived. A study by Iowa State University scientist John Downing and others is likely to figure heavily into future debates over farm regulations. Downing said he was shocked at how much more silt is running into Iowa waterways now, even after decades of work to ease the flow. The study found that lake conditions vary widely. But of the 33 natural lakes sampled, 88 percent gained phosphorous over the past century and a half. Phosphorus is a naturally occurring element used in crop and lawn fertilizer, and it feeds algae blooms that kill fish and cause bacteria outbreaks.
Now is the time to clean out your bluebird houses and get them ready for spring. I spent the better half of a day recently, cleaning out and making repairs (roof, sides, bottoms, predator guards, etc.) on 10 bluebirds houses.
Now is the time the clock is ticking. The average time for bluebird arrival in the Hamilton County area is between Feb. 24 and March 20. That's a 25-day "window" and there's only 18 days left. Cold weather doesn't really mean that much to bluebirds. They arrive at about the same time each spring no matter what the weather is. House wrens are a bit more punctual, a bit more reliable, a bit more predictable. Their arrival date in our area is about May 8, plus or minus a day or two. You can count on it.
And now have a good weekend.