Guest Columnist

Budget shortchanges natural resources and quality of life

Iowa’s Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget (SF 609) passed the Senate on a party-line vote and is now under consideration in the House. I voted “no” on the bill because it underfunds key opportunities to preserve, conserve and improve our land and water quality.

Iowa’s popular Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program is one example. REAP brings together a broad coalition of hunting, fishing, conservation, recreation and environmental organizations. The program was started in 1989 with the goal of putting $20 million a year into enhancing and protecting the state’s natural and cultural resources for generations to come.

The budget approved this week falls $8 million short of that longstanding, bipartisan goal. That’s bad news for our efforts to improve recreational opportunities across the state.

It means inadequate support for such REAP initiatives as:

· Open spaces to permanently protect and develop public lands and waters.

· Soil and water conservation, including efforts to improve urban soil practices and water quality projects.

· Competitive grants to develop public areas, outdoor recreation and natural habitat.

· Grants for historical preservation and country schools.

- Sen. Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) represents Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties. He can be reached at 319-931-1568 or via email at rich.taylor@legis.iowa.gov.