FAYETTE, Iowa (December 10, 2007) - It is her concern for the environment and love of animals that inspired Upper Iowa University (UIU) junior Tamra Lewis to implement a fishing line recovery and recycling program in Johnson County, Iowa. For her efforts, Lewis was awarded the 2007 Iowa State Association of Counties Individual Excellence in Action Award on Nov. 29 in Des Moines.
Lewis was aware that hundreds of birds and animals are injured or die each year as a result of becoming entangled or impaled by improperly discarded fishing line and tackle. She also knew it was a growing problem in Iowa's fishing and recreation areas, especially since monofilament line is non-biodegradable and can last for hundreds of years. So, this conservation management major decided to do something about it.
Prior to starting her summer internship as a naturalist with the Johnson County Conservation Board, Lewis took a week's vacation to Florida. While there, she looked into the monofilament fishing line recycling program sponsored by the NE Florida Sea Grant Extension Program. Upon returning to Iowa and with the help of Johnson County Conservation Board Director Harry Graves and Naturalist Brad Freidhof, she was able to implement a similar program.
The project involved the strategic placement of numerous recycling receptacles, made from PVC pipe, at various Johnson County fishing and recreational sites. The containers were mounted at Kent Park, Lake MacBride State Park, and the Coralville Dam Complex. The receptacles were clearly marked with two waterproof instruction stickers affixed to the containers. The first sticker included the universal recycling symbol and read "Cast Your Unused Fishing Line Here" and the other was a large red sticker that simply stated, "No Garbage."
Each site was checked two weeks after the program began and, according to Lewis, every receptacle contained discarded line and tackle. The program continued to be a success throughout the summer, resulting in other county conservation agencies, the Iowa DNR, and the Army Corps of Engineers expressing interest in setting up similar programs in their areas. The project is also being considered by the National Association of Counties award program.
For more information about fishing line recovery and recycling programs, go to fishinglinerecycling.org. For more information about Upper Iowa University, go to www.uiu.edu.