Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ducks Unlimited: Vote Sends Strong Message That Conservation Is Top Priority For Iowans

AMES, Iowa - Iowans overwhelmingly voted "Yes" to create a dedicated and constitutionally protected Natural Resources Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund yesterday with more than 662,000 voters, about 62 percent, approving the amendment to the state's constitution. The trust fund will help improve the state's water quality, protect agricultural soils, enhance critical fish and wildlife habitat, and provide additional public recreation areas.

Ducks Unlimited supported the amendment and DU volunteers worked to ensure its passage. "Iowans showed by an almost two-to-one ratio that outdoor recreational opportunities and the continued enhancement of our natural resources are indeed important to them," said James Roetman, DU Iowa state chairman. "DU, along with a broad coalition of more than 130 different groups, worked hard to create this dedicated funding mechanism that will do so much for Iowa's wildlife habitat."

Iowa has lost more than 90 percent of its original 6 million acres of wetlands. As a result, the state's water quality, wildlife populations and residents have suffered.

"With this landmark vote, Iowans have sent a strong message that the conservation and enhancement of our natural resources are a top priority for them and future generations," said Eric Lindstrom, DU regional biologist for Iowa.

The economies of Iowa's agricultural community will also benefit from the trust fund with the measure's soil conservation provisions. Studies show for every $1 invested in reducing soil erosion, Iowa gains more than $5 in economic benefits.

Similar dedicated natural resource funding measures have been created for Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas. "Efforts in these states, and now in Iowa, demonstrate what dedicated conservationists can do to insure the future of natural resources and outdoor opportunities for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren," Dale Hall, DU CEO, said.

The next step will be to put money in the trust fund. The constitutional amendment passed by voters will dedicate 3/8ths of one percent of future sales tax revenue if an increase is passed by the state legislature. The fund is expected to generate approximately $150 million each year.

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.