Voters approve Iowa’s Land and Water Conservation Legacy

Daily Staff

Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy amendment to the Iowa Constitution was approved Tuesday, after it received a sizable percentage of voter approval.

Once enacted, the amendment will create a trust fund which will provide funding to protect and restore Iowa’s natural resources. The amendment will protect Iowa’s valuable soils, preserve Iowa’s farming heritage, restore wetlands, and protect against future flood damage, according to the Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy website.

Funding for the trust fund will come from an allocation of 0.375 percent from sales tax revenue the next time that the Iowa Legislature votes to increase sales taxes. The fund will be a permanent, constitutionally protected one specifically focused on environment conservation and restoration statewide.

Approximately two-thirds of the fund will go toward projects that aim to clean Iowa’s water through watershed protection, lake restoration and voluntary conservation incentives, according to the amendment’s website. A significant amount of the fund would also be utilized to help reduce, prevent and mitigate future flooding throughout Iowa in a non-structural way.

The remainder of the fund will be used to protect Iowa’s land and depreciating wildlife habitats. This will be achieved through soil conservation programs and local conservation partnership programs that will best address conservation needs on a local level.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa will lose more than 230,000 acres of habitat by 2012 — reducing opportunities for both hunting and soil conservation.

Iowa is one of the leading states in agriculture, where one out of every six jobs are supported by the agriculture industry. The Iowa’s Land and Water Legacy will economically benefit Iowans, based off of studies which indicate every dollar spent to reduce soil erosion gains more than $5 in economic benefit, according to the amendment’s website.