Iowans call for conservation funding

Yesterday, more than 250 advocates made their way to Des Moines for Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol. The event, which was co-hosted by the Iowa Environmental Council and the Iowa REAP Alliance, included representatives from 35 organizations.


250+ advocates gathered at the Capitol to speak with legislators about the importance of protecting Iowa’s natural resources

Many participants spoke with policymakers specifically about advancing clean water initiatives, and the need to support and protect our state’s natural resources through sustained funding. Many also expressed concern about the high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in our waterways, and the threats posed to drinking and recreational waters.

Advocates called for increased and sustainable funding for several initiatives including REAP, IWILL and the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). Many asked for increased oversight as well, calling for local reduction goals, timelines with benchmarks, and required consistent water quality testing and assessment, all of which are currently lacking in the NRS.

If you attended the event – thank you! Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol is one of Iowa’s environmental community’s most effective tools to show that there is a broad base of support for a healthy environment. By making your voice heard, you  helped impress upon policymakers that environmental legislation needs to be a priority this session.

We will keep you informed about opportunities to take action on these and other environmental and energy issues.

Supporting our natural resources through sustainable funding

Tomorrow, the Iowa Environmental Council will join 35 environmental organizations and individual advocates from across Iowa at Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol, an annual event held in the state Capitol building. The event will be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the rotunda, and is open to anyone that cares about protecting Iowa’s natural resources.

The event, co-hosted by the Council and Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Alliance, is a fantastic way for concerned citizens, activists, and members of environmental and conservation-focused organizations to meet with and speak with Iowa legislators about environmental programs and policies face-to-face.

Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the Capitol 2014

Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day 2014

Last year, nearly 150 people and more than 30 organizations gathered at the statehouse to speak with their elected officials about “closing the deal for conservation.” This year, activists and organizations are going to use that momentum to create meaningful change in environmental policy in Iowa, calling upon legislators to support our natural resources through sustained funding.

Funding for conservation and water quality initiatives are incredibly important to statewide and local conservation efforts. We must invest in REAP and the Water Quality Initiative to increase their reach and impact, and fill Iowa’s Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in Iowa waterways and the corresponding health risks will also be a focal point for many. Many organizations, including the Council, will call for improvements to strengthen Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy to achieve measurable progress in achieving clean water. The strategy currently lacks a timeline, local goals, reliable and consistent water quality testing and assessment requirements, and long-term sustainable funding.

Face-to-face discussions are one of the best ways to show legislators that environmental legislation is important to their constituents. This year, help us show policymakers that Iowans care about conservation.

Al Sturgeon joins Council board of directors

Al Sturgeon

At large board member Al Sturgeon

Al Sturgeon joined the Iowa Environmental Council’s Board of Directors as an at large member in January 2015. Al, a proud lifelong Sioux Cityan, has been practicing law in the Sioux City area for nearly 25 years.

“I’ve always had a passion for protecting the environment, especially for reviving and restoring the Missouri River,” Al said. “The damage to the Missouri River has been nothing short of catastrophic, and in the Sioux City area, the degradation of the river is a real problem.”

Before founding Al Sturgeon Law, Al served in the Iowa State House of Representatives from 1980-1986 and was an Iowa State Senator from 1987-1994. This experience, combined with his commitment to Iowa’s natural resources, motivated Al to join the Council’s board of directors.

“I think environmental issues are more important now than ever. The scale is getting more difficult to tip, and it’s important for groups like the Council to exist. If we don’t work together we won’t get anywhere.

“I’m very impressed with the individuals and breadth of organizations associated with the Council, and I’m looking forward to working with them,” Al said. I think I’ll learn a lot.”

Council welcomes Jamie Burch as new development director

Development Director Jamie Burch

Development Director Jamie Burch

The Iowa Environmental Council is pleased to announce Jamie Burch has joined our staff as director of development. In this role, Jamie will manage individual giving and major donor programs, organizational development strategies and grant procurement. Her first day at the Council was Monday, February 9.

“I’m thrilled to join the Council, and am looking forward to meeting with and serving the Council’s diverse community of dedicated supporters, volunteers and advocates,” Jamie said. “I’m also excited to expand support for the organization; building and strengthening relationships with new supporters. Together, we can create a safe, healthy environment and sustainable future for Iowa.”

Jamie grew up in Ossian, Iowa in Winneshiek County, and is a graduate of Drake University. She holds bachelor’s degrees in politics and international relations. Prior to joining the Council Jamie worked in campaign politics, most recently serving as the Iowa Finance Director for Bruce Braley’s U.S. Senate race.

“Working in politics has given me a broad understanding of environmental issues and has allowed me to access to some of Iowa’s best renewable energy sources. I’ve both climbed wind turbines and visited Conservation Reserve Program land with farmers and conservationists. I look forward to working with the Council’s members to build support to advance policies and programs that protect Iowa’s natural environment,” she said.

When Jamie isn’t at the Council she enjoys live music, following politics and practicing yoga.

James Jolly joins Council as communications intern

James Jolly

Communications Intern James Jolly

The Iowa Environmental Council is pleased to welcome James Jolly as their new communications intern. During his internship, James will help build strong and clear communication between the Council and its members, with a focus on creating strategic plans to strengthen the Council’s online presence. His first day was January 29th.

“I am excited to be a part of this organization,” James said. “This is such a busy time for the Council, and I am excited to have  the opportunity to help them reach their goals by expanding their online presence.”

James is from Boulder, Colorado and came to Des Moines to attend Drake University. He is in his second year at Drake and studies public relations. James brings both environmental and writing experience to the Council. He currently writes for Drake’s student newspaper and magazine, and most recently created content for a nonprofit environmental legislative initiative during the 2014 elections.

“This is a fantastic opportunity,” James said. “I have so much to learn from the Council and its staff. This internship has given me the chance to further my education and help make a meaningful change in this state.”

Outside of the Council, James is an avid writer and social media user. He spends most of his time at Drake, learning new things, enjoying new experiences and meeting new people.