The Iowa House leadership is currently considering legislation (HF 2449) that would immediately ban the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from purchasing agricultural land and directs DNR to determine the market value of the land the State of Iowa currently owns—a possible prelude for future attempts to sell state land.
The Iowa Environmental Council opposes attempts to eliminate your ownership of public land in Iowa. The state purchased these lands for the benefit of Iowans, wildlife, and environmental protection. Selling the land eliminates these benefits.
The ban on purchasing “agricultural” land in HF2449, if enacted, would threaten conservation in Iowa because it broadly defines agricultural land as any “land suitable for use in farming.”
This would take important options for improving water quality off the table by barring the state from purchasing land critical for watershed protection—including wetlands or buffers along streams.
Iowa ranks near the bottom among all states in amount of public land. In this state, where 30.7 million acres are used for farming, the DNR manages a comparatively small 350,000 acres (less than 1% of Iowa’s land area) of state-owned land which provides essential habitat for wildlife and space for recreation.
As the DNR explains, through public ownership “across Iowa, wetlands, forests, scenic areas, prairies, wildlife and fish habitat, access easements to trout streams, rare species habitat, and other resources are being protected and managed.”
Take action now to ask your representative to oppose portions of HF2449 that prepare state land for sale and ban new purchases. Now is the time to be sure your representative knows Iowa’s public land—and the benefits it provides—are important to you.