Category Archives: General News

Iowans gather at statehouse to support clean water, conservation

Council Executive Director Ralph Rosenberg, center, addresses the assembled crowd at Environmental Lobby Day, March 18.

Council Executive Director Ralph Rosenberg, center, addresses the assembled crowd at Environmental Lobby Day, March 18.

About 150 conservation advocates representing over 35 organizations gathered at the statehouse Tuesday to call on lawmakers to do more to protect clean water and a healthy environment—and provide funding needed to get it done. The morning rally was co-sponsored by the Iowa REAP Alliance and the Iowa Environmental Council.

Conservation progress in Iowa could receive a big boost this year if legislators heed the call of Iowa’s conservation community to provide Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, or REAP, a special $25 million appropriation in celebration of its 25th anniversary.

But with many Iowa lakes plagued by harmful algal blooms, and record levels of nitrate pollution last year a threat to safe drinking water for half a million Iowans, advocates also cautioned legislators that stiff oversight, goals, and measurement of progress are needed to protect Iowa’s water resources.

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A little planning in advance will help make your #EnviroLobbyDay a success

This is one of a series of posts we will offer ahead of Environmental Lobby Day March 18.  A complete schedule and details about the event are available at the Council’s website.

Photograph of the Iowa State Capitol with text "legislative news"Tuesdays at the State Capitol are always exciting. The place is packed with legislators, staff, lobbyists, media, school groups, and other fellow Iowans all rushing about.

With all this going on, how can we be sure our message about protecting clean water and a healthy environment will be heard? We can be prepared in advance.

Here are three tips:

  •  Look up your legislators and write them a note to let them know you’ll be coming on March 18. Let them know conservation organizations will have displays in the rotunda and ask what time they might stop by. Say you’re planning to come to the statehouse and are interested in meeting them personally. Be sure to thank them for their service and their time, no matter what.
  • Practice your “sales pitch” in advance. We will provide you some policy talking points to consider, but it is also important to tell your own story about why a healthy environment matters to you. Do you want clean water for your kids? Are you worried about habitat loss for wildlife? Legislators and staff are busy and may not have much time to talk. Practicing in advance can help you feel more comfortable at the statehouse.
  • Bring a friend. It makes the whole day more fun. They can register too at envirolobbyday.eventbrite.com.

And remember:

We offer a pre-event training at the statehouse (8:30 am, room G15.4 in the statehouse) before the event. (YES, the meeting room has changed since we first announced it.) That’s your time to get questions answered and feel confident about the day.

#EnviroLobbyDay is your chance to stand up for a healthy environment in person

This is one of a series of posts we will offer ahead of Environmental Lobby Day March 18.  A complete schedule and details about the event are available at the Council’s website.

Photograph of the Iowa State Capitol with text "legislative news"In the legislature, March is the month when crucial budget negotiations take place. By turning out in person, we are helping “close the deal for conservation” at the statehouse this year!

What’s at stake?

  • We have the opportunity to see Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Program funded at $25 million in its 25th year, and that’s just one of several important conservation programs that need our support.
  • Legislative funding and oversight–including pollution reduction goals and timelines–are essential to getting Iowa’s water pollution problems under control.
  • If we do not show up and tell our elected officials we expect progress for clean water and a healthy environment, momentum for our issues could evaporate quickly in closed door budget negotiations. We can’t let that happen.

What can you do?

The Iowa REAP alliance has new resources to help you share your support for conservation with your friends.

The Iowa REAP alliance has new resources to help you share your support for conservation with your friends.

This week, take a moment to be sure you’ve invited friends to come with you to Lobby Day. (By the way, have you told us if you are coming?) Navigating the capitol and speaking to legislators is easier with friends at your side.

  • Check out these suggested social media posts to let your friends know you care about REAP and conservation in Iowa.
  • Set a goal of bringing a full car load of friends with you to Des Moines.
  • Ask yourself who should sign up and come. Your coworker? Your hunting buddies? Your best friend from Jazzercise? Let those folks know this is important, and they ought to come with you.

Everybody can “commit to attend” at http://envirolobbyday.eventbrite.com!

Iowa considering turtle harvest season; public comments are needed

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering a turtle harvest season to protect female turtles while they are nesting.  The Council has received the following information about this effort from the DNR via the Raccoon River Watershed Association, a Council member organization:

There have been preliminary meetings with commercial turtle harvesters and others concerning the establishment of a season to harvest wild turtles (snapping, softshells and painted) from July 16 – December 31.  Currently the turtle season is open year around for those three species.  One hundred pounds of live turtles or 50 lbs. of dressed turtle is permitted for those who have a sport fishing license.  Turtles harvested with a sport fishing license cannot be sold.

There is no limitation on the number of pounds of turtles a person can harvest with a commercial harvester license.  The fee for a commercial harvester license is $100.  The DNR does restrict the method of take and gear attendance.

The purpose for the possible season is to protect females during most of their egg laying season.  Justification for this is given below.  Stakeholders have until February 23, 2014 to provide comments to Martin Konrad at this email address: Martin.Konrad@dnr.iowa.gov

Iowa’s turtle populations are unlikely to sustain the current level of commercial harvest because:

1.      Turtle life history (e.g., longevity, age at maturity, low reproductive output, heavy nest predation, and low hatchling survival) suggests that they are vulnerable to overharvest.

2.      The number of licensed turtle harvesters has been steadily increasing from 1987-2013.

3.      Turtle harvest (for all commercial species) has been steadily increasing from 1987-2013.

4.      Annual harvest per licensed commercial trapper has gradually decreased from 1987-2013.

5.      Iowa has historically lost (and continues to lose) aquatic and nesting habitat.

6.      The demand of overseas markets (particularly the Chinese market) is high and increasing.

7.      There is ample evidence demonstrating the overharvest of turtles occurs where there was little or no regulation (e.g., multiple species in Southeast Asia, alligator snapping turtles in the southeast United States, bog turtles in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, and sea turtles in the U.S. and beyond).

Amanda Samuelson welcomed as Council’s new development director

Amanda Samuelson

Samuelson

The Iowa Environmental Council has appointed Amanda Samuelson as Director of Development. Her focus at the Council will be to oversee its individual and corporate giving programs, grant procurement activities and strategy planning aimed at growing financial support for the organization.  Her first day was January 27.

“Along with the Council’s board and staff, I am excited to serve the Council’s extensive community of dedicated supporters, in order to advance the organizational mission to secure a safe, healthy environment and sustainable future for Iowa,” Samuelson said.

Native of Osceola, Iowa, Samuelson is a graduate of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.  She has extensive non-profit development, community relations and public policy experience at state and federal levels, most recently in her role for local nonprofit and pediatric special healthcare provider ChildServe. 

At the Council, Samuelson will create and implement purposeful development plans focused on relationship building in order to meet the Council’s annual funding needs and facilitate future goals capacity.

“This is a very interesting time in Iowa’s environmental community—in the area of renewable energy, where Iowans are so excited about the progress we have made with wind energy, or in clean water, where we feel an urgent need to improve our efforts.  It is a privilege to support these important efforts,” she said.

Outside the Council, Samuelson is active in her faith community and enjoys golfing, Iowa wines, and exploring the many cultural offerings of Iowa communities while traveling the state with her family and friends.