IWLA's Year in Review

No images? Click here

Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that 2019 is already over. It was a busy and productive year at the Izaak Walton League, and we made great progress across a range of priorities. Here are a few highlights from last year.

Moving Forward with the Clean Water Challenge

The Clean Water Challenge is our campaign to dramatically increase volunteer stream monitoring nationwide and tackle the serious water pollution problems that still plague America.

  • The Clean Water Hub went live last summer, and by the end of the year it included more than 44,000 water quality test results from 4,100 stream sites nationwide! This gives communities and government agencies access to current, local water quality information.
  • League staff and experienced volunteers trained more than 300 new stream monitors in 2019. This brought the total number of monitors trained over the past two years to more than 700, which greatly expands our capacity to test local water quality nationwide.
  • In only our second season, Winter Salt Watch volunteers shared 350 chloride test results and the campaign made headlines. Kicking off season three, we distributed more than 500 test kits at the end of last year and will continue the campaign throughout the winter.

Advocating for Good Public Policy

For nearly 100 years, the League has been a leading advocate for public policies that protect clean water, habitat for fish and wildlife, and public lands. In 2019, we continued this fight at the state and national levels.

  • The League briefed Iowa legislators on polices to improve soil health statewide. Year-round plant cover on farm fields, for example, quickly reduces polluted runoff and improves the bottom line for farmers. We will host a similar briefing for Illinois legislators in 2020.
  • We defeated legislation in Iowa that would have barred local and state government agencies from acquiring heavily-eroded farmland and converting that land to wildlife habitat or public recreation space. The proposed law would have not only stripped private landowners of the ability to sell their land but also undermined efforts to curb polluted runoff and support hunting and fishing across Iowa.
  • At the national level, the League generated hundreds of public comments in opposition to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for tributary streams and as many as 20 million acres of wetlands. The proposed regulation would roll back nearly 50 years of protections for small streams that flow to drinking water supplies for 1 in 3 Americans.

Reaching New Audiences

We often joke that the League is the “best kept secret in conservation,” and this is something our leaders, members, and staff are committed to changing. We took important steps in that direction last year, including by leveraging the power of social media to reach new audiences.

  • Our Facebook posts consistently attracted nearly 20 times more interaction than posts by similar organizations. And our Instagram followers grew by more than 70%!
  • A group of ads for the Clean Water Challenge reached more than 100,000 people who were not previously engaged with the League to let them know about our clean water work.
  • One Winter Salt Watch ad drove more than 1,000 people to our website to learn about road salt issues – and generated so much demand for test kits that we exhausted our supply!

We appreciate the opportunity to share a few 2019 highlights with you and look forward to working with you to have an even greater impact for conservation in 2020.

Scott Kovarovics

IWLA Executive Director