By Louise Segreto, Chapter Historian
We have a lot to be proud of as Bush Lake Chapter Ikes. Our Chapter has always been a recognized leader for great conservation and environmental advocacy work. Here are 6 important things that you should know about our rich Bush Lake Chapter legacy:
1. Our Chapter was first organized in 1931 by a group of successful south Minneapolis businessmen. Its first meeting place was a 2nd floor space in a building located on the corner of 54th Street and Nicollet Avenue in South in Minneapolis. There were 26 original Charter Members. Our present Lodge on Bush Lake in Bloomington was purchased in 1936. Our original charter hangs on the wall of the lodge and notes we were officially incorporated into the Izaak Walton League of America on November 10th, 1937.
2. The original name of our Chapter was the “Minnesota Riverbottoms Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA)”, because our first service project was cleaning up the Minnesota River Bottoms. Shortly thereafter, our Chapter name was changed to the “South Minneapolis Chapter of the IWLA” (see our hand painted metal sign inside our Lodge, a replica of the original Chapter sign that likely hung above the gate) and in 1992 our Chapter name was changed again to the “Bush Lake Chapter of the IWLA”.
3. “South Wind” was the monthly print Chapter bulletin that was published from 1955-1962. (Remember our Chapter name was at the time: “South Minneapolis Chapter” hence the name of the publication) Ed Franey was the newsletter’s editor and Neil Buchanan, who owned a printing company, published it. Members with businesses generously contributed what they could to get things done at the Chapter. South Wind played a prominent role in the “Save Minnesota’s Wetlands” fundraising and advocacy campaign (1951-1954), led by legendary Bush Lake Chapter IWLA member and leaders- Richard J. Dorer and Ed Franey. The publication helped recruit other Minnesota Izaak Walton Chapters to contribute to its cause. The “Save Minnesota’s Wetlands” initiative was instrumental in buying back wetlands that were filled and drained as a result of prior federal subsidies that the U.S. Department of Agriculture set-up to encourage filling and draining wetlands to the detriment of waterfowl habitat.
4. After the successful “Save our Wetlands” campaign, Richard (“Dick”) J. Dorer and Ed Franey went on to almost single-handedly convince county commissioners and other politicians, the Minnesota State Legislature and DNR, to establish in 1958 the Richard J. Dorer Minnesota Memorial Hardwood Forest (today almost 1,000,000 acres). This designation protects forest lands, bluffs and prairies running about 105 miles along the west shore of the Mississippi River from Hastings to the Iowa border.
5. The Bush Lake Chapter over the years has led numerous conservation projects. From establishing the Bass Ponds in east Bloomington which were used to stock lakes across the metro area, to our Canada Goose Projects in the 1940s, raising and reintroducing Canada Geese to Rebecca and Hyland Lakes, to our 1950s Over-Winter Pheasant Feeding Projects, Mallard duck rearing projects, and tree planting work at various parks in Bloomington. These projects tied into our first founders’ original motivation for forming the Izaak Walton League. They were avid sportsmen and women trying to preserve hunting and fishing habitat and outdoor recreation for all.
6. If you would like to learn more about the “Save the Wetlands” Campaign (starring Jill Crafton our Chapter Treasurer) and the establishment of the “Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest,” take the time to view 2 short YouTube Videos produced by John Crampton (Present Bush Lake Chapter Member and past Chapter and Minnesota Division President): Save Our Wetlands Video Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest Video
Probing into our Chapter’s history has been a messy endeavor: wading through our dusty and moldy file cabinets for old Chapter records and trying to track down boxes of files delivered years ago to the Bloomington Historical Society for safe keeping. If there is anyone out there in our membership who would like to join me to sort through these boxes once they are rediscovered, please contact me. I sure could use some assistance! If you have been a member here for many years, we would love to see your pictures of the Chapter and hear your stories.
On my journey to uncover some of our Chapter’s history, I found a 1991, 8 -Track Tape interview of past Bush Lake Chapter President Truman Ingersoll. “Tru” was President of our Chapter in 1949. I was moved by Tru’s stories of the social glue that knit our Chapter together during years past. He fondly recounts Ice Fishing Derbies on Bush Lake in the 1950s with color tvs and aluminum boats as prizes, members’ fishing trips to southern and northern Minnesota, annual Corn-Roasts of the 1960/70s, Halloween Parties, Winter Fun Fairs, and of course- Canoe Races on Bush Lake (this tradition continues today- join us on September 29th for our Annual Member Meeting). Tru’s folksy voice from the past could be all too easily be discounted as being from “more simple times”. But, social connectiveness among our members and a sense of shared purpose and community is even more important today than in the past. Join our Chapter in some of our scheduled activities and play a role in writing future Chapter history!