Duane Sand: A career of unlocking conservation possibilities


Thirty-two years ago, Duane Sand asked me to help him with some summer communication about a concept he hoped would become part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It would give farmers an incentive to put their most erosive acres into grassland cover for ten years. Today you know it as CRP – the Conservation Reserve Program.

In his quiet, behind-the-scenes way, Duane has always been on the forefront of fresh concepts to protect land and water. He would be the last one to draw attention to his 40-year conservation career. But I believe his story can help to inspire a new generation of conservation thinkers who might follow their own paths of innovation for the good of the cause. Continue reading

The future for floodplains


When rivers rise, the water can cut new channels in a process known as scour, which removes fertile topsoil. The damage shown above occurred on a property along the Upper Iowa River in Allamakee County.

So, what’s the deal with floodplains? Landowners with significant acres of cropland in high-risk areas on floodplains face the potential for significant crop loss and other property damage. There’s also a chance for scour, which occurs when flooded rivers begin to cut new channels, removing fertile topsoil.

What can be done? Good news! New technology has allowed mapping to predict flood risk and relative scour potential in Iowa. Since 2009, scientists at the University of Iowa Flood Center have partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to map accurately flood predication throughout the state, watershed by watershed. Continue reading

Get more conservation for your Farm Bill money

Photo credit: TumblingRun / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: TumblingRun / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Written by Duane Sand, INHF Public Policy Director

An essential farm policy reform gained major momentum last week, and your calls now may help it become law. More than 30 national farm, commodity and conservation organizations have agreed to details for restoring conservation compliance requirements for those receiving federal crop and revenue insurance subsidies.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation has worked for this kind of reform for over two years. Lawmakers have often told us the farm lobby would kill this reform, even though the Senate voted for such change in 2012. Now we’ve learned the farm lobby will not fight this change, provided conservation groups stop seeking limits on farm payments.

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