The International League of Conservation Writers is a forum to bring writers together from around the world who are writing to promote wilderness, nature, conservation, or using other means to protect and restore the natural areas, habitats, animals, and plants of our planet. ILCW will present periodic writing awards to authors who excel in this field.


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International League of Conservation Writers

Writing to inspire the love of nature and a passion for its protection.

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           “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” Mahatma Gandhi


Member Writings

Don’t Give Me That Sh*t ­­

By Linda M. Hasselstrom, ILCW Member (USA)

These one hundred acres are the beating heart of my South Dakota ranch.

Here, century-old cottonwoods beside gurgling Battle Creek shelter pregnant cows through the winter. Here we harvest hay for the entire ranch. Here my parents once planned to build their retirement home.

In January, the nearby town’s sewage lagoon spilled 1.5 million gallons of wastewater across these fields. With an engineer from the state Surface Water Quality Program, I visited the site. The town’s Public Works director was casual about the dangers and hostile to my questions. But a DENR employee who specializes in Confined Animal Feeding Operation information said cattle should be kept off the land for at least 30 days due to high concentrations of E.coli bacteria.

I filed a complaint with the Town of Hermosa and notified the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Officials told me the town regularly dumps sewage illegally, violating state rules. Since state law provides for substantial financial penalties for repeated violations, I expected hefty fines that might inspire the town to clean up its mess. I hoped state experts could provide technical assistance to help the town meet its obligations.   

At a town meeting I attended, officials admitted they had expected the lagoon to overflow because usage was overwhelming existing facilities. They discussed adding a new waste cell, and building a berm between their lagoon and my property. They admitted that, in violation of state statute, the lagoon is monitored mostly by the owners of the land on which it lies.  

Like a good citizen, I expressed my concerns, and then waited for state and local officials to do their jobs.

I was utterly naïve. All over the west, as ranches become subdivisions, little towns are suddenly surrounded by new houses built by folks escaping cities. Many rural elected officials have never even lived in a town. How can these folks plan for the growth and expectations of new citizens used to urban life?

In July, I took the granddaughter of the man who homesteaded that land in the 1800s to see the avenue of ancient cottonwoods he planted. She loved at the blue skies, the fresh air, and the charming view of the little town—until I pointed out the lagoon. We avoided the polluted soil.

Now it’s September, nine months after the spill. Across the highway from my sewage- fouled fields stand a new church, new American Legion Hall, and another subdivision. Going about my business—haircut, checking out books from the library, collecting my mail—I ask residents if they know where their sewage goes. Most do not, so I tell them, pointing to the reeking pond across the highway.  

I also remind the lagoon’s neighbors that the town has a reputation for dumping garbage on its neighbors and failing to clean it up. In 2007, when a flood damaged and destroyed subdivision houses close to the lagoon, an estimated 23,000 pounds of gasoline cans, car parts, lawn mowers, dead animals and lumber washed into my field. The weedy pile of trash 20 feet high remains.  

Recently, I wrote SDDENR officials, the town’s Floodplain Administrator, and the Public Works director asking what actions have been taken to prevent future sewage spills on neighboring property. Has the town paid a fine? Have other violations occurred? Is the lagoon properly monitored to prevent overflow?  

I have received no response to my questions.  The town has not built a new sewage cell or a berm, but recently notified me that “land application” –dumping sewage wastewater--will occur before November 1.

Naturally, I’m furious that the value of my property has been damaged, if not destroyed. But I’m also worried about the effect of such irresponsibility on the citizens of the town and county.

Developers have profited greatly as former hayfields for ranches like mine blossom with subdivision houses. No one—not the developers, the town, the county or state--takes responsibility for the effects of this development on the environment, the groundwater, the hapless new residents of those subdivisions, or the rural neighbors.

This problem exists all over the west. How many towns have unpleasant but necessary facilities too close to homes because the town planners didn’t expect the town to get that big? Still, as towns grow, it’s their responsibility to provide safe sewage disposal, among other things.  

What can a law-abiding citizen do to protect health and property from the effects of irresponsible development? Apparently appealing to state and local officials is useless.

If you dream of moving to some charming rural town where you can get to know your neighbors, take a good look at the sewage disposal system before you move. Along with a folksy small-town welcome, you may get your neighbors’ sewage.  

The website of the town of Hermosa, in Custer County, South Dakota, says the town is “not only a great place to visit, but a safe and welcoming place to raise your family.” I can’t agree.


If you would like to share one of your writings with other ILCW members, send to patty.



One United Roar Save the Lions Contest

The world’s youth were invited to submit a video using their talent to bring awareness to the plight of lions world-wide. That if we don’t stand up for them now, they may well go extinct. The winners have been chosen and along with the video below can be found here.

Here’s one of the winners:


Wild Rome – Interesting Book Project

 Wild Rome tells the story of the often unseen wild animals that live among, but are often ignored, by people of the city. ILCW member (Italy) Roberto Isotti and his team of Homo ambiens have documented through more than 5,000 photos and five years, the biodiversity of Rome and of the efforts of those trying to preserve it. The hope is to raise awareness of these many species and to change the habits of the people that will allow for their survival. To see some of the photos and learn more about the project, click here.


Hope for Grevy's Zebra

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya took part in counting Grevy’s Zebra the last two days of January earlier this year. The results are in and the numbers of the zebra are up slightly. Good news for the rarest of zebras that once totaled 15,000 in Kenya during the 1970s now appear to number 2,250. To read more about how the use of photography and recognition software aided in the count’s accuracy and more, read more.


The Great Elephant Census Results

Serengeti Watch reports that three years ago, Microsoft founder, Paul Allen, embarked on an epic $7 million study to find out how many elephants remain, where they are and what changes have taken place. The results are in. During the past seven years, 30% of Africa's elephants have disappeared. 60% were lost in Tanzania in five years! At this rate, half the continent's remaining elephants will be gone in just nine years. We can't let this happen! Learn more.


Blood Lions Film Touring the US

Blood Lions is a feature documentary that reveals the horrors of cub petting, predator breeding and the canned hunting industry. The film is touring the US during October and the first week of November. See if there is a showing near you. You can also learn how to see the film through other channels at this link.

"More than 65% of hunters who shoot hand-reared South African lions come from America,” said Young. “This makes it critical for Blood Lions to raise awareness about canned hunting in the US. By hosting screenings of the film in San Francisco, Fort Worth, Chicago, San Diego, LA, Vancouver, Seattle and at the Friday Harbor Film Festival on San Juan Island we hope to empower the public to make their own moral decisions; and then take the action needed to stop exploiting and killing our lions."

--Bruce Young, Blood Lions Co-Director


Pandas International

Working to save, feed, and care for the Giant Panda.

Learn more.




Nov. 8-20, 2016

Antarctica with Urban Birder David Lindo

ILCW member David Lindo calls for interested birders to join his tour to Anarctica for 13 days and 12 nights. The group will board the ship in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, at the tip of Argentina, will cross the Drake Passage and explore the icy continent for a week – viewing seabirds, skuas, penguins and other animals of the region before returning to Argentina. For more information and itinerary schedule.

Nov 15-16, 2016

WildSpeak, Washington, DC

Filmmaker and ILCW member Jon Bowermaster is to be the emcee. Put on by the International League of Conservation Photographers, speakers include: Amy Gulick, Laurent Geslin, and Garth Lenz. For more information, click here for the ILCP website.

January 31- February 12, 2017

Tanzania photo safari. This marks Boyd Norton’s 32nd year of his very popular Tanzania photo tours.

October 2017 Photo tour in  Chile of the Lakes Region and Patagonia, including Torres del Paine National Park with Boyd Norton.

Boyd is the recipient of the prestigious Ansel Adams Award for

 Conservation Photography, presented to him in September 2015 by the Sierra Club president. He is the author and photographer of 17 books, including Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning (Fulcrum, 2011) and Conservation Photography Handbook: How to Save the World One Photo at a Time (Amherst Media, 2016) both of which received high praise from Jane Goodall and others.

Boyd has been conducting his highly popular photography workshops for 43 years. His workshops have spanned the globe and have included Galapagos Islands, Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Siberia, Alaska, Antarctica, Peru, Borneo, Bali, Belize and numerous locales in North America. For information on his scheduled workshops and others planned contact him.




ILCW now on Facebook

ILCW members, please check out the ILCW Facebook page and add content. Tell us what you are working on, what changes you see in the area of conservation (good and bad) in your area, include news from you: have you recently won any awards or accolades? Have you recently published a new book or article or perhaps finished a piece of art, performance piece, photo that glorifies the natural world? This page is for you, please enjoy and generate interest in ILCW and what we do.

ILCW facebook


Looking for Creative People Who Appreciate Nature

Do you have a friend or a colleague who is passionate about Nature and believes that we should protect what we have for future generations? ILCW welcomes all creative people (not just writers) who use their talent to bring awareness to the plight of our natural world. Have them apply to be an ILCW member at


Do you have news?

Let us know if you have won an award, written a new book, or launched a creative endeavor to bring awareness to conservation. Chances are the ILCW membership is not aware of these things, so be sure and tell us. Send items to:

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ILCW members can use the David R. Brower office

Come write, do research, and be near wild and protected areas in Colorado while working in the David R. Brower Office of Conservation Writing. Sit at the same desk used by Dave Brower. There is no cost to use the office. If interested apply at:

International League of Conservation Writers                                                     

4690 Table Mountain Dr., Suite 100                                                                    

Golden, Colorado, USA 80403

Phone: 303-277-1623

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