Introducing the outdoors
Local conservation chapter looks to introduce community to the world around us
By Kris Leonhardt
A local conservation chapter is working to introduce central Wisconsin to the world around us.
The Bill Cook Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, or “IKE’s” to its members, is a regional conservation organization working to educate, preserve, and introduce the community to the fun of the outdoors.
“We have a national office in Maryland, and we have state divisions throughout the country, as well as local chapters. Our local chapter right here in this area is the Bill Cook chapter,” explained IKE’s Bill Cook Chapter President Nick Homan.
“We are truly a conservation organization across the spectrum.
“Our primary motto that we kind of promote is the ‘defenders of woods, water, air, and soil.’ So, truly, we are an organization that promotes hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation, youth sport shooting, shooting sports of all types, along with different types of conservation projects, as far as restoration, preservation, wetlands, streams, lakes, those types of things. In every sense of the word, we are conservation organization first and foremost.”
The Bill Cook Chapter originated in 1902, when a group of sportsmen formed the Portage County Fish & Game Protective Association to address local environmental threats. In 1923, the group joined the Izaak Walton League of America.
The organization is open to all ages and anyone living in central Wisconsin.
“We hover right around the 400 mark, as far as local members, and those include individual members as well as families,” Nick explained.
Monthly chapter meetings are held the first Wednesday evening of each month. The chapter grounds and conservation center are located east of the Stevens Point Airport at 5297 Highway 66, on 160 acres managed through sustainable forest practices.
“Once a year, we will do what we call our “pulp cut” and that is where we will actively harvest sections of the forest for different reasons, whether it is thinning out a stand of trees or removing an invasive species. If markets allow, which unfortunately this year they didn’t, we can turn some of that wood or that stock into income for ourselves through the pulp market, sometimes through the lumber market.” Nick added. “Or, we will clear and clean brush, install a pollinator garden on our grounds; that type of thing.”
The organization also hosts hunter education courses, stream clean ups, highway clean ups, fishing clinics, and other conservation, recreation, and educational programs.
“We strive to be a community outreach group, where we can reach families and youth, individuals, anybody, and introduce them to the outdoors,” Nick stated. “Any time we can reach out to the community and teach them about what our members enjoy or what our club stands for in the realm of conservation, outdoors appreciation, and more enlightenment to those aspects of the world around us.”
Homan said what members get out of the organization varies from person to person, including his 15-year-old son, Connor.
“There is a lot of property where we can walk around,” explained Connor. “They have a rifle range/pistol range. One major factor is that I am part of the SPASH trap-shooting team, and they have a trap house, so I can practice when I don’t have my regular season with SPASH.”
“Out there, you see so much more; you’ll see deer out there, we’ve actually seen turkeys.”
“Every member gets something different out of the club, just like any organization,” Nick added. “We are kind of a grass roots group, so we run and we are only as successful as our own membership and how our individual members volunteer for our different events and programs that we put on and host for the community.”
For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/view/BillCookIWLA/home or contact Homan at 715-340-6674.