2024 Legislative Recap

By Anna Gray on April 24, 2024 in Blog

The 2024 legislative session concluded on Saturday, April 20, and your advocacy made a difference for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife!

In addition to building support for natural resource and outdoor recreation funding, you repeatedly halted legislation that would have restricted expansion of Iowa’s parks, trails and wildlife areas. Thank you for your advocacy.

Below is a summary of the top conservation issues from this session.

Budget (subject to the Governor’s approval)

INHF applauds the increase in funding for the State Recreational Trails program and the investments in place-making programs that support parks, trails and wildlife areas. Please join us in thanking the legislature for the increased support to the State Recreational Trails program and share your enthusiasm for this important program with the Governor.

  • State Recreational Trails: $3.5 million ($1 million increase)
  • Destination Iowa: $10 million ($5 million increase)
  • Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP): $12 million (status quo- $8 million less than authorized level)
  • Community Attraction and Tourism: $10 million (status quo)
  • Department of Natural Resource Administration: $12.5 million ($500,000 increase)

Parks, Trails & Wildlife Areas

Just three weeks into session, HF 2104 and SSB 3129 were introduced as companion bills in each chambers. The bills would have added unnecessary restrictions on the ability to grow Iowa’s parks, trails and wildlife areas. Restricting Iowa’s existing and future public lands is a recurring issue in the legislature. Over the past 5 years, nearly a dozen proposals have been introduced that threaten opportunities for landowners to work with partners like INHF to protect land and provide new opportunities for public recreation and benefit.

Iowans continued to show up to the subcommittees on short notice in overwhelming numbers, ready to speak out on behalf of Iowa’s wildlife and natural spaces. Fortunately, neither of the bills were enacted, and we are grateful to the legislators who recognized the need for maintaining and expanding conservation efforts that support our state’s health, economy, and environment.

Forest Reserve Program

The Forest Reserve Program remains unchanged and provides a property tax exemption for landowners of forest and woodland of two acres or more. INHF is dedicated to working with the legislature to address concerns with the program and identify a fair solution that values Iowa’s woodlands and other natural landscapes.

Save the Date: March 20, 2025 – Celebrate Iowa’s Outdoors Day at the Capitol!

INHF, partners and outdoor enthusiasts will gather at the Iowa Capitol for Celebrate Iowa’s Outdoors Day! We hope that you will join us for this fun event and opportunity for you to connect with legislators about issues that matter to the future of Iowa’s outdoors. All are welcome to attend! Additional details to come.

Your advocacy matters!

We are so grateful for your unwavering support throughout the legislative session.

You filled subcommittee meeting rooms, wrote and called your legislators, and showed lawmakers you care about nature in your state. Legislators told us that Iowa’s outdoors were one of the issues they heard the most about from their constituents. Join us in thanking the legislators who listened to nature’s advocates and supported conservation efforts.

One final ask: With an election approaching in November, Iowans will have additional opportunities to engage with candidates in the coming months. Ask candidates in your district how they will continue to support natural resources and outdoor recreation for Iowans like you. How will they work to finally fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund? Or fully fund Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP)? Let them know that conservation and outdoor recreation matter to you and your community.

Thank you for advocating for Iowa’s land, water, and wildlife.