Chartered in 1949 as a women’s chapter, the membership of the Sligo Chapter, as it was originally known as, was primarily made up of the wives of members of the Wildlife Achievement Chapter, which was then located in Silver Spring, Maryland. The ladies of the Chapter quickly adopted fighting litter and the education and involvement of children in conservation matters as their top priorities. They were also actively involved in a wide array of concerns and activities, such as joining in the successful fight to prevent road construction along the C&O Canal and hosting fishing trips for disabled veterans.
In July of 1973, the Chapter was given a generous donation of 63.5 acres of beautiful rolling countryside in rural Gaithersburg, Maryland by Mrs. Lois Green, a conservationist in her own right. In appreciation of this wonderful gift, the Chapter members voted to change its name to the Lois Green – Sligo Chapter. Shortly after that, the Chapter voted to welcome men, into their ranks.
In 1980, the property grounds were dedicated as the Malcolm E. King Conservation Park, in recognition of “Mac” King, who’s untiring efforts were responsible for securing the donation of the Lois Green property. Mac’s continued dedication as a conservationist led to many improvements of the property, which transformed the land into a laboratory of methods of land conservation. Soil stabilization, water controls, tree planting and the construction of a one acre pond, all contributed to the health and vitality of the land and resident wildlife, while acting as a showcase of conservation methods to other organizations, agencies, and private landowners.
Chapter members have always been involved in a variety of conservation efforts. In the early 1970’s, the Chapter assisted Mac King, then the Executive Secretary of the Maryland State Division of the Izaak Walton League, in establishing and implementing the “Save Our Streams, Adopt One” program. This endeavor has since grown into a nation-wide effort to reclaim our streams, and to keep our waterways ecologically healthy.
In the past, the Chapter has focused on a variety of local conservation efforts, including participation in the Adopt-A-Road” program along Airpark Road in Gaithersburg, and metal recycling drive, which proceeds go toward purchasing nesting boxes for owls, bats, bluebirds, and other wildlife. Currently, Chapter members are engaging the public to conserve rain water by harvesting it, and collecting seeds for the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources. Today, much of the Chapter’s efforts, go to maintaining the wildlife oasis and conservation park that our property has become, ensuring that the original landscape and habitat of our corner of Montgomery County will never completely disappear, and supporting and participating in the League’s mission, as articulated in its pledge.
Preserving Our Heritage, Educating for the Future
The future is in the hands of our children. Therefore, the future of conservation is in their hands. With this in mind, the Lois Green – Sligo Chapter has always considered its most critical mission to be the education of Montgomery County’s youth in the importance of conserving our natural resources.
The Chapter has regularly donated copies of the League’s national magazine, “Outdoor America”, as well as “Save Our Streams” videos and literature, to Montgomery County schools and libraries. We have given grants to special elementary school education programs; provided educational scholarships for teachers; and helped fund conservation field trips for elementary students.
The Chapter has also made the Lois Green property available for a variety of youth and conservation-oriented endeavors. Boy Scout Troop 207 holds its meetings at our pavilion during warm weather months. The Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, and other youth organizations use the property for outdoor activities. These youth groups have contributed several improvements to the property, such as the building and hanging of bird houses; maintaining the pavilion; picking up litter throughout the property; designing and constructing gardens; building a retaining wall; clearing shrubs from the pond area; constructing an observation deck; and clearing of a hiking trail. The property has also been used for regional scout events, some attracting as many as 500 visitors.
The Chapter’s second mission is the continuing effort to preserve and maintain our small but significant pocket of this area’s original environment. For years, this region has been in a constant state of physical turmoil, caused by unprecedented urban growth. Despite efforts by some government officials and a few builders, the negative impact on the area’s ecosystems has been enormous. Our Chapter grounds have become a refuge to many of the area’s indigenous plants and wildlife, providing for some species one of their few remaining habitats. We hope that other species that are sheltered on the property will eventually learn to adapt to a region that will some day become more stable, and use our land as a launching point for growth and expansion. The grounds have become a retreat for people, as well. The property provides the opportunity to relax, and to experience a more direct relationship with the wonders of our natural surroundings. Bird watching, fishing, hiking, bee keeping … there is something for almost anyone who is interested in escaping the bustle, and taking some time to listen to a breeze or a bird song.
While the grounds are not open to the public, they can be reserved for private functions in exchange for a donation to the Chapter. The donations are used to defray maintenance expenses. Please read more if you think a gathering on our property would benefit your group!
What Is The Izaak Walton League?
The Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) is a national organization of hunters, anglers, and other conservation-minded outdoor enthusiasts who work through volunteer, community-based action and education programs to ensure the sustainable use of America’s natural resources.
The League was founded in 1922 by a group of sportsmen who were concerned about how the rapid growth of America’s communities and industry was affecting the nation’s waterways. The rapid loss of valuable wetlands, forests, and other undisturbed wilderness areas also became a major concern to the fledgling League.
In 1927 League members organized the first national water pollution inventory at the request of President Calvin Coolidge. League involvement was vital to the enactment of the first federal water pollution control law in the 1940’s, as well as the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972. The IWLA also spearheaded legislative efforts leading to the enactment of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as the country’s first strip mining reclamation laws, and for the limitation of clear-cut logging practices in the national forests.
The IWLA has also led the charge to protect public lands. Creation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, the Everglades, Isle Royale and Voyageurs national parks, and the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge were largely the result of League efforts.
Today, with over 50,00 members and supporters, the League offers a variety of ways for people to get involved, from joining one of over 350 local chapters and state divisions, to participating in "Save Our Streams," a hands-on program that teaches youths and adults how to monitor and protect streams.
Other IWLA programs focus on natural resources advocacy through state and federal legislation, outdoor ethics for recreationalists, community sustainability, energy efficiency and sustainable agricultural practices. To learn more about the mission, programs, history, or to learn how to join, visit the Izaak Walton League of America web national site at www.iwla.org.
Who Was Izaak Walton?
Many people regard Izaak Walton as a champion of a cherished lifestyle. Walton regularly achieved a state of serenity through his love and enjoyment of the natural environment, specifically while pursuing the art of “angling,” or fishing. In 1653 Walton published the first edition of “The Compleat Angler,” a story of three friends—a fisherman, a huntsman, and a fowler—as they discuss the merits of their favorite pastimes. The book not only provides techniques of angling, but promotes Walton’s philosophy of the peace and simple virtues achieved by immersing one’s self in the natural world. Over the past 350 years “The Compleat Angler” has been reprinted over 300 times, making it one of the most published books in English history.
Izaak Walton was born to innkeepers in Stafford, England in 1593. As a boy he was apprenticed to a cloth merchant in London. He then became the proprietor of an ironmonger’s shop, and in 1618 became a freeman of the ironmongers company. He eventually achieved a degree of prosperity by establishing a drapery business. He was married twice and had seven children, all of whom died young.
Although of modest education, Walton was very well read, and associated with clerics, writers and philosophers. Walton’s first published works were the completion of a friend’s biography of the local vicar, John Donne, also a companion of Walton’s. Walton went on to write the biographies of several of his friends, but none of these books have captured the souls of so many as has “The Compleat Angler.” When Walton died in Winchester, England, in 1683, he had already seen to several new editions of this famous book, each containing additional material.