Stephanie Shepherd, a wildlife diversity biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in Boone, says the so-called Chickadee Checkoff was the first such checkoff added to the Iowa tax form back in the early 1980s.
“It was put on the tax form by the legislature in order to provide a funding source for all of the wildlife that basically doesn’t get hunted, fished or trapped,” Shepherd says. “All of those species are supported by hunting and fishing license sales but there was another thousand-plus species that had no dedicated funding source.”
Donations to the check-off have been rising slowly in the past few years, bringing in $136,000 last year from 8,000 taxpayers. “It’s still quite a bit less than it was in its early days and there’s potential for it to grow,” Shepherd says. “We’re thankful for the people that can find the line, which is way at the bottom of the tax form and make that effort to donate.”
Iowans who want to support the Chickadee Checkoff will find it on Line 55-A under the heading: “Contributions.” “There’s four different causes that you can give to, they’re all very worthy,” Shepherd says. “You could split up and give a little money to each. The only restriction is that it has to be at least a dollar. Basically, whatever you put down there is automatically taken out of your refund or added to whatever you owe the state.”
Only about one-half of one-percent of Iowans donate to the fund. Shepherd says if every Iowa taxpayer donated just $1, it would mean $4.5 million for wildlife and natural resources conservation.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)