The last day of April brought exciting news to Iowa’s conservation community as a sequence of bills adopted by the general assembly appropriated a record $25 million to Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program. In a flurry of activity leading up to adjournment of the 85th General Assembly, the final vote on REAP funding did not take place until after 3:00 a.m. on May 1.
This is the first time in 25 years REAP has been “fully funded” by the Iowa legislature, meaning approved funds meet or exceed the authorized level, currently $20 million. In all, funding approved will come from three sources:
- $16 million through HF2458, the appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Department of Natural Resources. This money comes from Iowa’s Environment First Fund. It is noteworthy that controversial proposals in this bill to violate the spirit of the REAP funding formula and divert funds from the open spaces account were removed from the final bill.
- $4 million through SF2349, appropriations from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.
- $5 million through SF2363, a bill making various one-time appropriations to a variety of programs, including REAP and several other conservation programs.
All three of these bills will require the Governor’s signature for $25 million in REAP funding to become law. The Governor will have approximately 30 days to act on each bill, and appropriations bills are usually subject to strong review by the Governor’s office prior to being signed.
In addition to leadership shown by numerous conservation-minded legislators, Iowa’s REAP Program is supported by approximately 37,000 Iowans who have purchased natural resource license plates. Last year and this year, hundreds of Iowans took part in a public participation process to make recommendations for the program’s future.
In March, the Iowa Environmental Council and Iowa REAP Alliance partnered with over 30 organizations to host a clean water and conservation rally at the statehouse. An untold number of Iowans, through conservation organizations or acting independently, spoke out in favor of providing the program this historic funding level.
Thank you to all Iowans who spoke out to help make this progress. We do know the work of protecting clean water and a healthy environment is not finished. Together, we will continue to push for similar funding of REAP year after year.
Editor’s note: Many environmental issues, including controversial provisions concerning confidentiality of water quality data in Iowa’s pollution reduction efforts, have seen action in the closing hours of the legislative session. The Council will continue to summarize legislative action on a variety of issues in the coming days.