NEVADA, IOWA – Citing investments proposed for local watershed efforts, the Center for Rural Affairs announced its support of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Invest in Iowa Act today.
The bill, Senate Study Bill 3116 and its companion in the House, House Study Bill 657, would fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust, also known as IWILL. This trust was created when it received the support of 63 percent of Iowa voters on the ballot in 2010.
“After a decade of waiting, we are celebrating the introduction of this legislation, which would finally begin making the investments we need in natural resources conservation,” said Cody Smith, policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. "We are proud to have worked with the governor and her staff to help create the new Local Conservation Partnership Program under the trust fund."
This newly-proposed program includes watershed management authorities, which are cooperative partnerships between cities, counties, and soil and water conservation districts, as an eligible funding entity for the first time.
Local communities can also receive financing for projects and long-term planning that would improve the quality of rivers and streams, promote wildlife diversity, and further develop recreational opportunities.
“We are confident this program will put rural Iowa communities in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions about improving water quality and reducing flood risk,” Smith said. “As this proposal works through the legislative process, we will continue to engage with the governor’s office and legislators to increase the allocation of resources to the Local Conservation Partnerships and Watershed Protection accounts in the trust, and to invest in the staff needed to carry out the goals of each account.”
Under the allocation formula outlined in the governor’s budget, the Local Conservation Partnerships account would receive 9 percent of the total IWILL funds while the Watershed Protection account would receive 15 percent of the funds each year. The trust will generate $171.3 million annually.
“These accounts are critical for ensuring an approach that recognizes a need for reducing nutrient loss, but also places resources behind robust, long-term planning and cooperative watershed-level efforts to address other priorities like restoring wildlife habitat,” Smith said. “Greater investments in these accounts would encourage locally-directed watershed efforts, empowering Iowans to focus on a range of priorities they determine at the community level—going a long way in improving the quality of life across rural Iowa.”