The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chapter of the IWLA
The Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) Chapter was chartered on October 23, 1935 by the Izaak Walton League of America. The initial membership of 15 has grown to over 1000, making it one of the largest and most active of the IWLA’s 600 plus chapters. Some of the current members of the B-CC Chapter are the third generation of their families to belong.
Lacking funds and formal facilities, the monthly chapter meetings in the early years were held in individual homes, borrowed meeting rooms, restaurants, etc. in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Maryland area. In 1949 the chapter was able to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a 366-acre farm in Poolesville, Maryland, near the Potomac River and about 20 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. It was at that time a badly depleted farm with limited access and little value for any other purpose. In late 1997 the 127-acre West Woods tract adjoining the original 366 acres was purchased, and in 2006 an additional 30-acres known as West Woods II was acquired. The funds enabling the purchase of all the land owned by B-CC IWLA were provided by donations from its membership. The West Woods tract is significant for many reasons. It includes unique shale habitats, supporting a complex of upland Triassic red shale communities that include forest, woodlands, and small barrens that support rare native plants. In October of 2010 the Chapter purchased 50 additional acres of hardwood forest north of the Boy Scout Woods adjacent to the north-eastern corner of the original farm, and in 2012 an additional 50-acres was purchased, bringing the total size of the BCC land holdings to 623-acres.
The B-CC’s property, open to chapter members & their escorted guests, is a unique complex of habitats that includes two ponds and several seasonal streams, and woodlands in which more than a dozen rare and endangered plant species have been identified. It provides food and cover for upland wildlife native to Maryland forests including black bear, white-tail deer, red fox, raccoon, rabbits, and a myriad of reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds. It is contiguous to the 2000+ acre McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, which in turn adjoins Seneca State Park, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and the Potomac River, providing a corridor for wildlife movement over a large area.C3-field-clearing
Conservation easements that are adjacent to one another and prevent further development include the BCC IWLA farm of 573-acres, to the southeast the Willard farm of 294-acres, to the north the Morin farm of 315-acres, to the east the 500-acre property directly across from Izaak Walton Way, to the west a 30-acre conservation park owned by the county adjacent to West Woods II, and to the south the McKee-Besher’s 2000+ acre wildlife management area. The combined sum of these easements and management areas totaling over 3,662-acres provides continuous habitat for wildlife and an ecological gem for the resident’s of Montgomery County. (Click here to view the protected lands around the BCC Conservation Farm)
What is our purpose?
B-CC’s goal is to develop and maintain our conservation farm as the best example of living resource management and habitat conservation in Montgomery County, in the State of Maryland, in the United States, and in the World. Our all volunteer membership strives to demonstrate the application of responsible, science based conservation of the soil, water in ponds and streams, woodlands, fields and wildlife. Our farm’s cash crop is not grain or vegetables – it is the healthy ecological attitude of our membership. We see our farm as a 623-acre classroom in which to plant the seeds of ecological awareness, responsibility and respect.
How do we do this?
The B-CC Chapter has numerous committees that are led by its members and include: Farm, Wildlife, Ponds & Streams, Forestry, Conservation & Education, etc. (see website at www.bcciwla.org).
We sponsor events for members, such as family Campouts, Appalachian Trail hikes, native plant identification and invasive species eradication, dove hunting, barbeques, fishing clinics, re-forestation of old fields by tree planting, fly-fishing instruction, pond and stream management, maintaining nature trails on our property, bird identification and nesting habitat, family garden plots, seasonal pumpkin patches and Christmas tree growing.
BCC develops partnerships with sister organizations like Trout Unlimited, Maryland Native Plant Society, Ruffed Grouse Society, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Appalachian Trail Foundation, etc.
BCC supports and sponsors a world class hunter education and safety program to promote responsible, safe, and ethical hunting as an effective non-government wildlife resource management tool. We realize that hunters and fisherman spend more time, money and effort on wildlife conservation than any other group in society.
BCC operates rifle & pistol, shotgun, and archery ranges for its member’s recreational shooting and to develop safety and accuracy skills required for ethical and responsible hunting.
BCC offers low membership fees by maintaining our facilities and properties ourselves and passing on the savings in the form of low membership dues for family and individual memberships to those individuals that can pledge to support the core mission and goals of the IWLA and the B-CC Chapter.
How do you become a member?
Attend three monthly dinner meetings which are held the third Wednesday of each month, obtain a member to sponsor your membership, and take the IWLA conservation pledge, and become involved in the Chapter’s activities as a volunteer, by leading working groups, lead activities, and even serve on the Board of Governors.
We invite you to learn about our work and to join us in supporting important conservation initiatives in your community.
IWLA Mission Statement:
“To conserve, maintain, protect and restore the soils, forest, water, and other natural resources of the United States and other lands;
To promote means and opportunities for the education of the public with respect to such resources and their enjoyment and wholesome utilization”
“To strive for the purity of water, the clarity of air, and wise stewardship of the land and its resources,
To know the beauty and understanding of nature and the value of wildlife, woodlands, and open space,
To the preservation of this heritage and to man’s sharing in it,
I pledge myself as a member of the Izaak Walton League of America.”
WITH REVISIONS THROUGH MAY 2013
The B-CC IWLA chapter is an all-volunteer organization. We depend on our members for their leadership and their labor. From the management of the Legacy Foundation and the chapter Board of Governors down to the cleaning of the chapterhouse, the day-to-day operations of the chapter and our long term prosperity depend on members willing to give of their time, their creativity, and their individual expertise.
The Bethesda Chevy Chase Chapter was chartered on October 23, 1935 by the Izaak Walton League of America. The initial membership of 15 has grown to over 1,000, making it one of the largest and most active of the IWLA’s 300 plus chapters. Some of the current members of the BCC Chapter are the third generation of their families to belong.
The BCC Land Fund Committee researches potential land that borders the BBC Poolesville Conservation Farm holdings, and with the approval of the membership, acquires these lands to increase the contiguous wildlife habitat.
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected conservation organizations. With a powerful grassroots network of more than 250 local chapters nationwide, the League takes a common-sense approach toward protecting our country’s natural heritage and improving outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. We invite you to learn about our work and to join us in supporting important conservation initiatives in your community.
The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America is chartered by the national headquarters of the Izaak Walton League of America, or in IWLA-parlance: “National.”
The B-CC Chapter is also a member of the Maryland State Division of the IWLA.
In addition, the chapter sponsors a number of programs and organizations on the conservation farm, as well as partners with other organizations in the community with whom the IWLA’s mission overlaps.