The International Erosion Control Association (IECA) is a non-profit educational organization serving the worldwide erosion and sediment control industry. IECA is supported by individual memberships as well as corporate sponsors.
Erosion control is a young industry, one that is evolving as a significant player in the environmental arena. And as the industry is maturing, so too is IECA.
In the Beginning There Was a Conference
IECA began more than 40 years ago in 1971 when a Washington state hydroseeding and tree service contractor, Mr. George Harrison, polled a group of contractors to determine if any interest existed for creating an erosion control contractor’s group.
The result of his efforts was the first erosion control conference, held on January 15, 1972 in Portland, Oregon. Eleven contractors from four states attended, along with representatives from seven product and equipment supply companies. The total attendance was about 35 people.
This event was a historic one, for it established from the onset one of IECA’s greatest strengths—bringing people together to solve problems. This first meeting addressed the pitfalls of the erosion control contracting business, which at that time was very much a young and raw business.
Creating an Association
The first conference concluded with a discussion of creating an association of erosion control specialists. The group agreed there was a need for such an association, and the creation of IECA was underway. Later that year, Mr. Gordon Christiansen of Western Processed Fibers added some important vision to the developing association. He promoted the idea that an entire industry should be involved, not just one segment such as contractors. Therefore, he urged that the membership should include a much broader range of professions.
Gordon and George collaborated to schedule the second conference, which was held in Oakland, California, September 2 & 3, 1972. Although the attendance was only 46 people, the group was diverse—including state highway personnel, utility companies, national park and forest service staff, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, manufacturers, suppliers and contractors. This diversity led to an immediate atmosphere of cooperation and enthusiasm, which grew stronger throughout the two day meeting. The small group’s resolve grew steadily to create a single voice for all erosion control endeavors.
Formation of the National Erosion Control Association
Organizing committees were quickly formed and on November 20, 1972, today’s leading erosion control association was born as the National Erosion Control Association. The first Board of Directors, under the leadership of the first President, George Harrison, quickly added more vision to the association by aspiring to include professionals from all over the world.
Name changes to Reflect Global Emphasis
On February 18, 1973, the association’s name was officially changed to the International Erosion Control Association. The original filing documents included goals that IECA still follows today: the collection and dissemination of information; encouragement of research; promotion of professional skills and education; and the development of industry standards.
The leaders of the early years of IECA led with vision, despite a relatively small membership and an even smaller budget.
- In 1974, the first IECA conference Proceedings were published.
- In 1975, the Board discussed the utility of a directory of soil erosion control people as well as the development of a standard set of specifications to be used by all government agencies.
- In 1976, the Board created the first IECA newsletter, the REPORT which served members through 1993.
- The concept of an IECA Buyers Guide was explored in 1978.
- In 1980, IECA was invited by Honorary Board Member Mauricio Porraz from Mexico City, to participate in the International Week of Engineering which was held in Mexico City. As a result, IECA created the Honorary International Director position to include Mr. Porraz and Clodaldo Gomes from Brazil.
- Throughout the 1980s, IECA’s activities focused primarily on its annual conference, whose venue gradually pushed eastward across the U.S.—from Denver to Dallas to New Orleans and finally to Washington, D.C. in 1990.
- In 1987, IECA adopted its first Long Range Strategic Plan and discussions began on the development of national and international chapters.
- By 1988, state representatives were selected to initiate Chapter development.
1989 Breaks New Ground
1989 was a landmark year for IECA on several fronts. Internationally, IECA held two non-U.S. meetings. The annual conference and trade exposition was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and in an effort to develop a European Chapter, IECA held a symposium on soil erosion control in London, England. Two other historic events occurred this year including the formation of IECA’s Committee on Standards and the publication of IECA’s first Products & Services Directory.
Growth Accelerates in the 1990’s
In decade of the 1990’s, IECA emerged as the leading association for erosion and sediment control professionals. New programs, motivated leadership and a steadily growing membership base added depth and dimension to the world’s best resource for erosion control information.
Keeping Pace in the New Century
Today IECA is keeping pace with the demand for fast, convenient communications and technology transfer. Important announcements, documents and schedules can be easily retrieved by visiting IECA’s web site where membership applications, training course schedules, calendar of events, scholarship details, conference programs, and useful industry and association news can be accessed. A searchable Member Directory links problems to solutions via the extensive expertise network of IECA. Members can also communicate with IECA using Email, fax and phone.
A look at the Future
What does the future hold for IECA? A look ahead reveals exciting possibilities for the association and its members.
- Improved member management databases will enable IECA to link members to each other to solve specific problems. Technology sections will provide topic specific information and benefits. Specialized conferences will be held that focus on issue oriented topics—erosion control economics, performance standards, new regulations, design technology and more. Regional meetings will become more common including Chapter conferences and even regular conferences on all major continents.
- A greater range of professional development courses will be available, driven by member and industry needs. Training will occur internationally and offer multi-lingual education. A greater emphasis will also be placed on developing college level curriculums, field schools and research centers.
- Performance standards will become a reality providing greater consistency and utility of erosion control technology for design professionals, manufacturers, regulators and contractors.
- A foundation for member directed research and scholarship will shape future leaders and technology. A market reporting system will enable IECA to better profile the industry and provide valuable information for IECA business leaders.
These are just a few of the exciting developments awaiting IECA members. IECA engenders a sense of belonging to its members. In turn, members are empowered to participate in a dynamic and exciting profession—and to help guide the association into the future. New frontiers of learning and problem solving await those who grasp the opportunities. IECA will continue to be the leading association for erosion and sediment control professionals around the world. Don’t miss the journey!