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Iowa's Water & Land Legacy

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Permanent conservation funding

Support for Iowa’s land, water and outdoor recreation is dependent on program funding set by the legislature that varies from year-to-year. Reliable funding is necessary to ensure that Iowa’s natural resources and communities will be consistently supported.

In 2010, 63% of Iowa voters approved a constitutional amendment to create the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a permanent and protected funding source for Iowa’s communities and natural places. More than ten years later, the Trust Fund sits empty, requiring a sales tax increase of 3/8 of a cent for funding. If funded, the Trust Fund would generate at least $171 million annually and provide farmers, local communities and state agencies with reliable and accountable funding.

The Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund would allocate funding to the following programs:

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  1. Approximately 16-20% of Trust Fund revenue would be generated by out-of-state visitors, and certain necessities such as food and medication are exempt from sales tax.
  2. Nearby states, including Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas have passed similar voter-approved sales tax measures that have generated hundreds of millions of dollars for conservation and outdoor recreation.
  3. Last year, Governor Reynolds introduced the Invest in Iowa Act, a proposed 1 cent sales tax, with the first 3/8th dedicated to the Trust Fund. Though the legislation was sidelined due to the pandemic, it is possible that the Governor will reintroduce Invest in Iowa in 2021, creating a path to Fund the Trust.

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INHF recommends that the legislature raise the sales tax at least 3/8 cent to fund the Trust and increase funding for public open space, trails, sustainable agriculture, and water quality.