State leaders are considering sustainable funding sources for natural resources that could guarantee revenue for years to come. Jeff Vonk, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is chairing a panel that’ll meet for the first time next week (Wednesday) to discuss options.
Vonk says they’ll look at programs in Missouri and Arkansas, where part of state sale tax revenues are dedicated to conservation projects. Vonk says “It’s been highly successful in their places. We’ve seen big projects being brought to fruition, great economic development impacts and certainly outstanding recreational opportunities for their citizens.”
Vonk says he’s confident the process will highlight that an investment in natural resources can produce positive economic return to Iowans and help maintain our high quality of life. He says conservation of Iowa’s natural resources is vital to our state’s long-term success.
Vonk says “Projects like this are going to take a number of years to build consensus on it and starting off with a committee of this nature that actually goes out and does the research and pulls together the background and explores what the possibilities are and hopefully we’ll have a chance to also explore what Iowans would favor and support.”
The committee is charged with delivering recommendations to the legislature in January. The panel is comprised of representatives from both parties and both chambers of the legislature, and includes leaders of several groups including the Iowa Environmental Council, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Sierra Club.