In 2010, a majority of voters created the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a permanent and constitutionally protected funding source that will ensure Iowa’s natural areas are protected and preserved for future generations. The Trust will be funded once the Iowa legislature raises the sales tax by at least 3/8 of a cent.
Here are 6 ways funding the trust will directly benefit Iowans.
Creation of more natural public areas
Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program provides funding for all sorts of conservation projects. From completing the Chichaqua Bottom Trail in Polk County to expanding the Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area in western Iowa, REAP grants significantly impact Iowa’s open spaces and recreational opportunities. REAP is authorized to be funded up to $20 million, but has never been fully funded. When the Trust is funded, REAP will have the potential to be fully financed and even expanded.
Cleaner drinking water
It’s clear that Iowa has a water problem. Nutrients and sediment have infiltrated the water that ultimately makes it into our rivers, our lakes and ultimately our homes. When the Trust is funded, Iowa will have the resources to improve watershed quality to filter out nitrates and other impurities. Additionally, the Trust plans to offer financial incentives and assistance to encourage responsible farming.
Development and maintenance of trails
The Trust’s formula slates 10 percent of funds for Iowa’s trails. This money would help develop, maintain and promote trails/water trails across the state for recreational use, while solidifying Iowa’s reputation as the world’s capital of trails.
Additional cash in local economies
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Iowa generates $6.1 billion in consumer spending. Popular outdoor attractions, like the High Trestle Trail, have brought economic booms to small communities as bars, restaurants and shops pop up along the trail. Plain and simple, the more recreational activities our state has to offer, the higher the revenue.
Cleaner water for recreational areas
The Trust’s incentives for drinking water would make for cleaner rivers, lakes and streams altogether. Kayakers, swimmers, anglers and more would benefit from cleaner (and safer) waterways.
Preserved natural areas for future generations
Most importantly, funding the Trust would preserve Iowa’s outdoors for future generations to enjoy. Here at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, part of our mission is to ensure Iowans will always have beautiful natural areas – to bike, hike, and paddle – to recharge, relax and refresh – to keep Iowa healthy and vibrant. And we believe that funding the Trust is a crucial step towards fulfilling that vision.
Want to help fund the trust? There are many ways you can get involved and make your voice heard.