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Banding Together for Waterfowl

DU applauds Iowa legislature and Governor Culver for supporting Iowa’s water and land legacy

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By: Jennifer P. Kross, Great Plains Regional Office Communications Biologist

The state of Iowa is one step closer to creating a permanent and dedicated Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Governor Chet Culver has signed a bill that clearly defines which agencies and programs will receive funding if the voters approve the constitutional amendment in November and once the legislature provides revenue for the trust fund. 

“The future looks much brighter for Iowa’s wetland and waterfowl resources,” said James Roetman, DU’s Iowa volunteer state chairman from Pocahontas. “The signing of this important legislation provides much more assurance to Iowa voters and our members that these funds will be invested wisely in protecting and restoring our state’s valuable natural resources.”

The process is complicated but the rewards are great
There are many important steps to establish the trust fund, but each step is necessary to ensure dollars are allocated appropriately and they serve their intended purpose.
  • Senate File 2310 defines how trust fund dollars would be allocated and invested toward protection and enhancement of Iowa’s natural resources and outdoor recreational amenities (see graph on how funds will be distributed). The governor has approved and signed this allocation legislation into law.
  • Passing of SF 2310 does not mean the trust fund is established. That will be determined by voters on November 2, 2010.
  • If passed by voters the trust fund will be a permanent, constitutionally protected and additive funding source allocated to protecting the state’s water quality, agricultural soils, natural areas and fish and wildlife habitat.
Having a permanent and guaranteed funding source is significant because during times of budgeting, natural resources and environmental concerns are often the first to be cut.

The legislatively created Sustainable Natural Resources Advisory Committee provided recommendations for SF 2310. These recommendations were based on specific natural resource needs and current funding shortfalls estimated at approximately $150 million per year. According to the advisory committee, Iowa ranks 47th nationally in current conservation spending and 49th in total public land ownership. 

“This will help accelerate the conservation of wetlands, shallow lakes, wildlife management areas and other important waterfowl habitats in Iowa,” said Steve Adair, director of DU’s Great Plains Regional Office.

Where the money will come from
  • The amendment that will appear on the ballot does not include a tax increase. 
  • The trust fund revenue will come from allocating 3/8 of one percent from sales tax revenue the next time the Iowa Legislature approves a sales tax increase.
  • The trust fund will not be funded until the sales tax is raised in the future as the state deems necessary.

“DU has worked closely with many other organizations and supporters to build strong bipartisan support for this legislation,” said Roetman. “We’re grateful for the overwhelming support it received in both chambers and realize it’s now up to Iowa voters to make this vision a reality on November second.”

At least three other states have amended their respective constitutions to provide dedicated funding for habitat conservation including Missouri in 1976, Arkansas in 1996 and Minnesota in 2008.

DU is part of the Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy coalition that has been working for three years to move this plan for the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund forward. Visit their website to learn more and how you can support the effort.

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