In the Weeds: November 2010

A Heaping Helping of Habitat from "The Habitat Organization"

Pheasants Forever Support Helps Iowa Pass Water & Land Legacy Amendment

State constitutional amendment establishes permanent natural resource fund In the Weeds: November 2010

With approximately two thirds of voters in favor, Iowans yesterday approved the Iowa Water & Land Legacy Amendment. The amendment, supported by Pheasants Forever, establishes a permanent and dedicated Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

This amendment creates the trust fund to ensure Iowa's natural resources are protected for future generations. A constitutionally protected trust fund would help complete projects benefiting water quality, soil erosion reduction, conserve wildlife habitat and fund parks and trails. The account would receive $150 million a year from a future sales tax increase, if and when lawmakers approve one. Iowa joins three other states that have amended their respective constitutions to provide dedicated funding for habitat conservation, including Missouri (1976), Arkansas in (1996) and Minnesota (2008).

"This was a historic step for Iowa," said Howard Vincent, national President and CEO for Pheasants Forever, which has 101 Pheasants Forever chapters and more than 20,000 Pheasants Forever members in Iowa, "No doubt the support of Pheasants Forever was crucial in the passage of this amendment. Iowans deserve recognition for this outstanding conservation statement."

Matt O'Connor, Pheasants Forever's Director of Conservation in Iowa, says the fund is not only needed to improve water and soil quality, but to help restore grasslands needed to recharge Iowa's dwindling pheasant population. "Iowa's pheasant population is at a modern low, which has hurt the state's status as one of the nation's premiere pheasant hunting destinations," O'Connor said. While severe winters and flooding have earned their share of the blame, O'Connor says habitat losses are equally as culpable. "Improved habitat helps pheasants, pheasants help pheasant hunters and pheasant hunters help Iowa," O'Connor says, "The passage of the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Amendment is a firm step toward reestablishing habitat."

"It has been a long and difficult road at times, but I can say with confidence, if it wasn't for the grassroots efforts of Pheasants Forever volunteers, Iowa's Water and Land Legacy would not have soared like it did yesterday," said Tom Fuller, Pheasants Forever's Regional Representative in eastern Iowa, "They dedicated time and energy to this campaign, and future generations of Iowans will thank them for helping create a better state."

Pheasants Forever worked as part of Iowa's Water and Land Legacy coalition for three years to move the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund forward.

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