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Public lands provide open space for outdoor recreation, protect precious wildlife habitat and create economic opportunity across the state. In the past year, Iowans rediscovered their home state, and our parks and trails saw more visitors than ever before. With a renewed appreciation for the outdoors, many popular destinations are booked in advance each year. There is clear need for more public open space in Iowa.
The increased use and demand for outdoor amenities has underscored the need to expand, develop and maintain Iowa’s public lands. Greater conservation funding will help enhance the state’s valuable natural assets that support a high quality of life.
The Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP) is one of Iowa’s most effective conservation programs. Created in 1989, REAP uses funds from Iowa’s gaming receipts to support the state’s natural and cultural resources in all 99 counties.
Over the past 30 years, REAP has supported more than 15,000 projects, including:
- State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas
- County Conservation
- City Parks & Open Spaces
- Soil & Water Quality improvements
- Conservation Education
- Historical and Cultural Preservation
Despite its success, REAP has never been fully funded. Without renewal from the state legislature, REAP will end in June 2023.
INHF recommends that REAP be fully funded at $20 million and urges the legislature to extend the program's sunset to at least 2050.