Leaders of Iowa environmental groups say they’re excited by the introduction of two new natural resources license plates. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources unveiled the plates Tuesday that feature a bald eagle and a pheasant. Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation president Mark Ackelson is part of the alliance of conservation groups that help create the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program.He says the REAP program has been around for 16 year and, “I think we can all take pride in the fact that it is the most successful conservation funding program that Iowa has ever seen. It’s never lived up to its hope, but it has produced well over 200 million dollars that has been used for conservation all over the state, so I think we can all take great pride in that.” Ackelson says the conservation plates have another benefit beyond raising money. He says one of the major things they’ll do is continue to promote awareness of natural resources. He says education and awareness is something they need to do more of throughout the state. Ackelson says the plates will build on what is already a strong foundation of support for conservation. He says every poll shows Iowans support conservation. He says if you take all of the non-profits together and divide it by the population and compare us to any other state, Iowa has the highest per-capita involvement in conservation and environmental organizations. Ackelson says the money raised by the REAP plates also provides important seed money to pull in matching funds from other sources. He says, “Every dollar that not only comes from that plate, but comes from REAP appropriations (from the Legislature) is multiplied significantly, uh, two, three, four, five times to one. So the leverage out of these dollars is absolutely incredible.” The new license plates are available through your county treasurer.
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