Action needed: Two bills threaten conservation in Iowa

By Joe Jayjack on February 28, 2019 in Blog

UPDATE: Thanks to the advocacy of hundreds of Iowans, HF542 is likely to die this week after non being advanced to the full House Natural Resources Committee. However, SSB1221 was advanced to Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and we need your help to stop it. Learn more here.

Two bills were introduced this week in the Iowa legislature that threaten the future of conservation in Iowa. We need your voice to make sure these bills are stopped. We need to pack the Capitol on Monday for subcommittee hearings on these bills at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to show legislators that Iowans care about public land! If you can't make it, call or email your legislators and the subcommittee members and ask them to oppose the bills. 

House File 542

Subcommittee hearing: 10:30 a.m., Monday, March 4, House Lobby, Iowa State Capitol

Subcommittee members: Rep. Robert Bacon (R-Story County), Rep. Tom Jeneary (R-Plymouth County), Rep. Scott Ourth (D-Warren County)

HF542 is a direct attack on public lands and conservation in Iowa. It should be opposed in its entirety.

In this bill, counties would be prohibited from expanding parks, wildlife habitat areas and trails by any amount. Funding the cities and counties have relied on would be restricted, and could not be used for expansion of open spaces and new recreational amenities, including public museums. The state would not be able to purchase land for state parks, wildlife areas or strategic water quality projects.

This bill would also strip private landowners of tax incentives for protecting their land by eliminating the Charitable Contribution for Conservation Tax Credit. 

Senate Study Bill 1221

Subcommittee hearing: 12:30 p.m., Monday, March 4, Room 217, Iowa State Capitol

Subcommittee members: Sen. Dan Zumbach (R-Delaware County), Sen. Jerry Behn (R-Boone County), Sen. Nate Boulton (D-Polk County)

SSB1221 is more narrow in scope, but would also have wide ranging impact on conservation. The bill eliminates the Charitable Contribution for Conservation Tax Credit that helps make it possible for many private landowners to protect their land or to donate it for public use. The bill also eliminates the use of State Revolving Fund for public land acquisition for water quality purposes. 

The message

As Iowa strives to attract and maintain people to live, work and raise families in our state, we need to provide quality of life features that they demand. At the top of list —along with good jobs — is a clean, healthy environment and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Public land plays a special role in the lives of Iowans. For generations, Iowans have made memories in parks, on trails, in woodlands and prairies. We need to continue that legacy for future Iowans. We need to support our existing parks, trails and wildlife areas and continue to look for ways to expand our outdoor opportunities.

Rural communities rely on the jobs, consumer spending and public health benefits that outdoor recreation provides. Iowa is already 47th in the nation in the percentage of public land available to its residents. These bills puts us in a race for the bottom.

Instead of strangling our ability to grow healthy, strong communities, we should be embracing the opportunities the outdoors present. We should be investing more in conservation, not less.

If you have questions about these bills, contact INHF Public Policy Director Anna Gray at or at 515-288-1846.

Find tips for connecting with your legislators in our Nature's Advocate policy guide.