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What We've Done

Many of the wild areas Minnesotans take for granted were protected by, or even created through, the efforts of the Izaak Walton League's many state chapters. Consider that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness would likely not exist without the Ikes. (Read about the Ike's long involvement in the canoe country.)

Strong Ties To This Region

From our beginning in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America has stood for balanced resource protection and use. And from the onset the IWLA has had strong ties to northeastern Minnesota. In fact, during the 1920s our first national president, Will Dilg, paddled in what later became the Boundary Waters with a young guide named Sigurd Olson.

Dilg promised Olson that the Ikes would do what was necessary to protect that wilderness, a promise we've kept for seventy-five years, even when doing so was controversial in our own backyard. Sig Olson went on to not only become a revered wilderness advocate, but channeled much of his efforts to preserve wilderness through the IWLA.

But we haven't been sitting still since then. Some other IWLA projects and accomplishments you may be familiar with are the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area, and Voyageurs National Park. The League-sponsored Clark-McNary Act provided the funds nearly 60 years ago to acquire land for the creation, or in some cases expansion, of the region's National Forests, including the Chippewa, Superior, Nicollet and Chequamegon National Forests. And the Minnesota Division was responsible for the creation of the Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest in southeast Minnesota. Read more about these accomplishments, and others.

Think of what Minnesota and neighboring states would be like without the legacy of these public lands!

In Your Own Back Yard

The McCabe Chapter, based in Duluth, has been active in protecting wild places right here in our own back yard. The acquisition and creation of the Blackhoof River Wildlife Management Area was an IWLA project, as was the acquisition of the west bank of the Knife River from Scenic Highway 61 to the Expressway, which we later turned over to the Department of Natural Resources. Our chapter has been a leader in protecting trout streams in the region, including on-going work on the much beleaguered Miller Creek in Duluth.

In just the past few years, the McCabe Chapter has been active on numerous fronts. Here's just a partial list:

  • Working to defend the public natural resources of Spirit Mountain; 
  • Participating in the Duluth's Comprehensive Plan and Surface Water Management Plan;
  • In 2000, held a three day community Sustainability Conference in Duluth;
  • Have led the battle in northern Minnesota to defend public lands;
  • Provided a public forum for discussion of the potential listing under the Endangered Species Act of the Canada Lynx;
  • Helped pave the way for the state acquisition of thousands of acres of unique wildland along the Swamp River, near the Arrowhead Trail north of Hovland;
  • Provided members to represent the League as mediators on both the BWCAW and VNP federal mediations;
  • Provided a member to serve on the Minnesota Forest Resource Council's Riparian Area Technical team, which developed logging guidelines for the sensitive areas along streams, lakes and open water wetlands;
  • Provided a member to represent the IWLA on the Wolf Roundtable, which drew up a wolf management plan for the Department of Natural Resources;
  • Provided a member to serve on a task force developing programs to promote more environmentally sensitive development on lakes and rivers;
  • Held a full-day Youth Waterfowl Hunting Clinic with hands-on activities for kids interested in learning about duck hunting, with special emphasis on hunting safety and ethics;
  • Taught kids at Camp Miller how to use a fly rod;
  • Participated in public forums on, and have submitted written comments for, the development of management plans for the Chippewa and Superior National Forests, and Voyageurs National Park;
  • Annually clean a two mile section of road ditch along Jean Duluth Road, as well as Brighton Beach Park;
  • Worked with Trout Unlimited to develop a better plan for the planned extension of the sanitary district's sewer line to Hermantown, which was originally far too near to the urban trout stream, Keene Creek;
  • Continuously working to try to protect, and restore, Miller Creek, another urban trout stream that is beleaguered with development;
  • Continual involvement in issues pertaining to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park;
  • Hold monthly educational meetings, and provide an informative newsletter to our members.
  • In addition to all of this, over the years we've held fly fishing clinics, forums and lectures on wilderness, sustainable development, forestry, land use, and sustainable tourism development, directing our efforts to educate the public and elected officials. We believe that Northeastern Minnesota is a great place to live, and want to keep it that way, not just for people, but for wildlife too!