Environmental trust fund warrants support

In November 2010, the people of Iowa chose to amend Iowa’s Constitution and create the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

The trust fund will provide a permanent and protected source of funding for Iowa’s natural resources, local conservation programs, watershed protection, lakes restoration, trails, natural resources management and agriculture and land stewardship.

Though the fund, which was approved by 63 percent of Iowa voters, exists by statute, it has yet to receive any directed revenue.

Given the degradation of the environment in Iowa, this is troubling.

About half of the rivers and lakes in Iowa don’t meet water quality standards, according to Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy, a diverse group of organizations, agencies and individuals working together in coalition to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund In all, the state has lost 1.6 million acres of wildlife habitat over 20 years, according to IWLL.

A 2014 survey by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation concluded that 66 percent of Iowans support a revenue enhancement to fill the trust fund.

By law, funds would be allocated according to a strict formula to help ensure the trust fund is used to maximum effect.

As mandated by Iowa Code, annual reports relating to the Trust Fund must be submitted to the General Assembly.

Given these safeguards, it behooves the state to see that the Trust Fund exist as more than just a theoretical tool.

We urge the Iowa Legislature to take up the cause this year.