Governor Vilsack is calling for spending almost 14-million state tax dollars on initiatives to clean up Iowa waterways through things like “filter strips” along rivers and better monitoring of water quality. Vilsack says by spending the state money, up to 65-million in federal money would come Iowa’s way to pay farmers to plant native grass rather than crops along rivers and streams.Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson says the proposal may help Iowa avoid a federal edict by the E-P-A to clean up the waterways.Vilsack calls for using money from the state’s “infrastructure fund” to pay for the environmental initiatives.Department of Natural Resources Director Paul Johnson, an architect of the plan, says it helps provide additional outdoor recreation.One out of five Iowa farmers are already getting paid by the feds to plant filter strips on about 160-thousand acres of Iowa land. Vilsack’s goal is to have half-a-million acres of filter strips by 2005. Vilsack says many farmers would come out better, financially, by planting grass along a waterway and getting the government rental payments for a decade than planting that land to corn or beans. Vilsack also wants a two-million dollar state program to teach farmers how to properly apply the manure from livestock confinement operations and a statewide plan to improve septic tank systems.
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