Iowans Will Decide on Sustainable Natural Resource Funding in November 2010
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever support creation of Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.
Des Moines, Iowa – -(OutdoorWire.com)- Iowa voters will decide in November of 2010 whether to amend the state Constitution to set up a protected account to improve the state’s water quality and water resources. The fund would also improve wildlife habitat, soil conservation, lake restorations, parks, and trails. This week, the Iowa Senate approved the idea with a 49-1 vote; the Iowa House passed it 82-14. The amendment now goes straight to voters. Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) join a host of other conservation organizations, hunters and anglers in support of the amendment’s passage.
If Iowans approve, the next time lawmakers raise the sales tax, three-eighths of the money raised by a one-cent increase would go into the new account – a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund – at an estimated $150 million a year.
Iowa would join Missouri, Arkansas and Minnesota as states to approve Constitutional amendments to dedicate funding for natural resource conservation. This past November, Minnesota voters approved The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. The measure will raise the state sales tax by three-eights of one percent – from 6.5 to 6.875 percent – beginning July 1, 2009, and will generate an estimated $300 million a year in today’s dollars, or around $11 billion over the next 25 years.
“We thank the Legislature for their work in passing the resolution and putting the final decision to the will of the voters,” said Matt O’Connor, Pheasants Forever Habitat Team Coordinator and a Hopkinton resident. “Iowans have the opportunity to drastically alter the outlook for this state’s natural resources.”
Don Lamb, a longtime Pheasants Forever volunteer from Milford in Dickinson County says that “Northwest Iowa has benefited from the watershed projects, public wildlife lands and other water quality projects that have targeted the Iowa Great Lakes Region over the past two decades. Our water is clean, our pheasant population is great, and we have great recreational opportunities throughout the region. It is exciting to see what can be done with similar efforts statewide.”
Dean Sandstoe of Des Moines sees this fund helping water quality and hunting opportunities. “In Des Moines, water is a big issue, both flooding and water quality. Upstream watershed projects on the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers will help out Des Moines significantly. I also like the idea of adding more recreational opportunities for Iowans. Those opportunities can be in the form of trails, improved parks, or wildlife management areas. I believe in providing farmers the opportunity to protect soil and water quality on their lands.”
The creation of a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund would significantly benefit Iowa’s upland bird populations. In the early 1970s, over 300,000 Iowa hunters harvested 1.9 million pheasants. Last year, 100,000 Iowa hunters harvested an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 pheasants – the first time Iowa had five consecutive years in which fewer than 1 million roosters were killed. The decline is due to long-term changes in agricultural practices and most recently the loss of over 280,000 acres from the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). By October of this year, Iowa will have lost approximately 3,000 square miles of CRP. Recent harsh winters and spring flooding have exacerbated the loss of habitat. According to the state, that has reduced the economic impact of upland bird hunting from $386 million in the mid-1990s to $186 million by 2006.
For more information about sustainable funding, visit: www.iowadnr.gov/sustainablefunding/index.html
Since 1985, Iowa’s 103 Pheasants Forever and two Quail Forever chapters have raised and spent $33,439,806 on the organization’s wildlife habitat mission. Chapters have planted 500,495 acres of nesting cover, 219,845 acres of food plots, 10,380,955 shrubs and trees for winter cover, and improved 56,062 CRP acres. Additionally, Iowa PF has restored 17,494 acres of wetlands and contributed to 602 land acquisitions that permanently protect 73,694 acres of public wildlife habitat. Find more information at www.IowaPF.org.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are non-profit conservation organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant, quail, and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. PF/QF has more than 130,000 members in 700 local chapters across the continent.