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World Leader in Wetlands Conservation

Winning at the Ballot Box

Dedicated funding amendments have bolstered wetland and waterfowl conservation programs in Iowa and several other states 
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—By Joseph Satrom

The late Stirling Adams, who served as Ducks Unlimited's president in 1961–1962, once said, "Conservation without money is just conversation." In November 2010, Iowa voters took Adams's dictum to heart by amending their state constitution to establish the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. This new fund will receive 3/8 of 1 percent of Iowa's next statewide sales tax increase, generating an estimated $150 million annually. These funds will be used by the state to improve water quality, conserve soil, and restore and enhance natural areas, including fish and wildlife habitat. Iowa follows Missouri, Arkansas, and Minnesota, which previously adopted similar dedicated conservation funding measures. 

Iowa's general assembly and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) played key roles in this successful effort. The general assembly initiated the process by establishing the Sustainable Funding Advisory Committee, which included bipartisan legislative representation and members of various conservation, environmental, and agricultural groups. This committee took a comprehensive look at the health of Iowa's natural resources, including its soil, water, wildlife, wetlands, watersheds, lakes, rivers, parks, and trails. The panel also studied various ways the state could provide additional funding to meet future conservation and environmental challenges. 

Well-known and respected Iowa DU volunteers Tammi Kircher and Jon Kruse served on the Iowa Sustainable Funding Advisory Committee. This group conducted statewide public opinion polling to gauge support for the ballot measure among potential voters. Polls revealed that conservation is a strongly held value in Iowa. Ninety percent of those polled said that conserving land and water is crucial to keeping the state's economy strong. Also, more than 77 percent said they would support additional public funding for protecting Iowa's land, water, and wildlife.

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