The Association of Izaak Walton League Chapters of Virginia was formed August 8, 1929. It, together with the Garden Clubs of Virginia and the Virginia Academy of Science, petitioned in 1929 for the establishment of what became the Virginia State Park system. This was delayed by the Depression and was not implemented until 1936.
Organized July 22, 1944, with nine chapters, the Virginia Division has concentrated on conservation education and habitat protection. The Division's most famous member was President Herbert Hoover, an active member of the former Orange County Chapter. Another, Senator A. Willis Robertson, was a League chapter leader and a former state wildlife com- missioner, who as a Congressman, co-sponsored important legislation, the Federal Aid and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 -- better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act.
In 1940, the Arlington-Fairfax Chapter won a significant victory with statewide adoption of a Chapter supported 12-point fish and wildlife law enforcement program, including law enforcement officer training. Twelve years later, the Lynchburg Chapter successfully stopped the state assembly from making the wildlife commission's executive director a political appointment.
Conservation efforts by the Division involving water cleanup, the state's model water pollution control law, and longtime support of conservation education were recognized in 1959. The state wildlife agency presented the Division with a citation for outstanding work in conjunction with a popular annual wildlife essay contest from 1948 to the late 1960s. In 1961, more than 40,000 entries from school students were received.
Since 1946, efforts by the Division and IWLA to stop the proposed Salem Church Dam on the Rappahannock River succeeded in November 1974, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ended all planning and construction.
In 1978, the Division purchased 611 acres of private land within the George Washington National Forest and held it for later purchase by the government.
Efforts by the Division and other conservation groups to protect the James River succeeded in January 1984 when Hampton Roads Energy Company abandoned plans to build the Portsmouth Oil Refinery. The Division sued in 1983, warning that oil spills could destroy the river's oyster beds.
In 1988, Division members helped secure a ban on phosphate detergents. The Alexandria Chapter also worked to protect Huntley Meadows, a 1,261-acre wetland used by bald eagles for nesting habitat.
The Division revitalized the Virginia Save Our Streams Program in 1996 securing annual donations and grants from the Virginia State Assembly and environmental groups in excess of $100,000 to support the volunteer water quality monitoring program.
Currently, the Division has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Departments of Conservation and Recreation, Environmental Quality and Game and Inland Fisheries for a cooperative move to improve Virginia's environment.
Today, the Virginia Division of the Izaak Walton League of America can boast of 18 chapters and more than 7,000 Ikes in the Old Dominion State.