To conserve and protect
Conservation remains at the hallmark of goals for the national Izaak Walton League.
Emmet County chapter members Wednesday night at the Estherville Public Library learned of the larger role that the organization plays in maintaining natural habitat for everyone.
Arlo McDowell, national executive board member, and Marion Striegel, president of the Iowa division and national director, also discussed ideas for increasing membership.
Striegel said a new director had been hired for the Missouri River restoration project, jointly funded by the Iowa and Minnesota DNR and the South Dakota division of Game, Fish and Parks.
McDowell said the Army Corps of Engineers is rethinking its previous policies of deepening the Missouri River channel. Channelization has only made the faster-flowing water cut the channel even deeper. The natural oxbows and sandbars so typical of the Missouri as it was originally actually help slow flood waters. In addition, removal of the natural delta in New Orleans has made that area more prone to flooding from hurricanes.
“Arlo (McDowell) is the father of the Missouri River project,” Striegel explained.
McDowell said the Missouri River restoration project is a good one for the organization. Unfortunately, said McDowell, public funds for such projects have been diverted for other purposes at the state level.
“Conservation funds, they’ve been robbed several times to pay other bills,” McDowell said. He said the only way to obtain the money for the project would be to get a sales tax increase for conservation. “The idea of locking up the money – I do like that idea,” he said.
A question also arose at the meeting as to the disposition of the Izaak Walton grounds should the chapter disband.
McDowell said as long as the local chapter was operating the grounds, it was the chapter’s property. If the organization should disband, he said the property would revert to the league which would try to start a new chapter so the property could again be used for its intended purpose. McDowell emphasized that the league was looking for membership, not property.
Members asked about the dues structure that determines the amount of money that goes to the national and state organizations. Dues at the local chapter are $61 a year, with $15 of that going to the local chapter for upkeep of the grounds and the remainder to the national and state organizations.
McDowell underscored what the Izaak Walton League is doing at both the state and national levels for sportsmen. He noted a movement to restrict shooting and guns and he said the local chapter would be more effective in stopping that movement if it stayed with the national group.
Another benefit Striegel noted was an interest-free loan for for chapters in need.
The Emmet County chapter of the Izaak Walton League maintains grounds at the east edge of Fort Defiance State Park with rifle, pistol, archery and trap ranges.
The $61 yearly membership includes not only state and national membership dues, but also use of the range.
The Emmet County Izaak Walton League chapter also helps sponsor the hunter safety education class every year and provides the grounds for the course.