The Iowa Legislature adjourned the 2014 Legislative Session last Friday, May 2nd. At the final gavel, the Iowa Senate and House approved a $2 million Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) appropriation for the Iowa DNR’s Low-Head Dam Mitigation and Water Trails Program. This is a $1 million increase from the appropriation approved during the last two sessions and a HUGE victory for Iowa’s river programs.
Be sure to THANK these legislators – let them know we are watching and appreciate their leadership and support:
–Senator Matt McCoy – Senator McCoy is the co-chair of the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee, and he has often been the lone-leader in securing consistent funding for this program. Please let Senator McCoy know you appreciate his strong support of this program – his leadership has helped make a significant impact in addressing river projects and raising awareness about river issues in Iowa.
–Senator Dick Dearden – Senator Dearden is the chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee – it was his leadership and recommendation that led to convening the Iowa Rivers and Waterways Interim Study Committee.
–Senator Bob Dvorsky is the chair of the Senate Appropriations committee and oversees the RIIF budget and is an ally in conservation efforts.
–Representative Dan Huseman is the co-chair of the House Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee. Representative Huseman is a strong supporter of rivers and has worked to secure this funding level.
But we aren’t quite done yet…the Governor has 30 days to sign or veto legislative recommendations. We will be talking with the Governor’s staff about the importance and benefits of this program and the impact this funding makes in improving and protecting Iowa’s rivers at the local level. We will keep you informed about this final step in securing the $2 million for the Low-Head Dam Mitigation and Water Trails Program.
Unfortunately, we did not receive a directive from the Iowa Legislature to use a portion of the $2 million RIIF appropriation to begin to develop an Iowa River Restoration Program. We will continue to work with legislative leaders to implement the will of the Iowa Rivers and Waterways Interim Study Committee’s bipartisan and unanimous support for developing an Iowa River Restoration Program.
We need you to continue talking with your legislators about the importance of an Iowa River Restoration Program and river issues in general. Help engage your public officials – invite them to local river clean-ups, paddling activities, or other river-related events this summer.
The good news is that the Low-Head Dam Mitigation and Water Trails program will be able to address a backlog of projects with this increase in funding. This program provides crucial support to local efforts addressing the removal or modification of old and unused dams reconnecting the river to a more natural state, reducing dam deaths and safety concerns, and assisting communities interested in water trail development and continued maintenance of existing water trails.
Another HUGE victory for Iowa’s outdoors: $25 million for REAP’s 25th Anniversary. REAP continues to be a major funding source to enhance and protect Iowa’s natural and cultural resources. It has been authorized by the Iowa legislature to receive up to $20 million annually and until this year, has never been fully funded.