Iowans overwhelmingly support funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund
(11/24/2014) Newly released polling data show an overwhelming majority of Iowans – 81 percent – now support the creation of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.
The survey of Iowa voters commissioned by Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL) also found that 66 percent support a revenue enhancement to fund the trust.
The trust fund was created in 2010 when 63 percent of Iowa voters approved it through a statewide ballot initiative. The next step is to fund the trust through the state sales tax, an action that must be taken by members of the Iowa Legislature.
Support in the poll for raising revenues for the trust fund rose to 73 percent when it was paired with a reduction in income or property taxes for an overall reduction in taxes.
“Iowa voters have waited long enough to address Iowa’s conservation issues and expect state leaders to act,” said Jan Glendening, state director for The Nature Conservancy. “We believe this is a responsible plan that will protect our sources of drinking water, reduce soil erosion, and provide greater protection from flooding.”
The Nature Conservancy and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation are some of the dozens of organizations that have supported Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, a coalition working together to secure a permanent, constitutionally protected source of dollars for conserving and enhancing water quality and natural areas in the state.
“We believe 2015 is the year that legislators should come together to fund the trust,” said Mike Shannon, Regional Biologist with Ducks Unlimited, another organization backing IWILL. “Iowa is falling behind other states with dedicated funding sources for natural resources, such as Minnesota and Missouri, but it’s not too late for Iowa to catch up.”
The poll, conducted in August 2014 by Public Opinion Strategies and released publicly today, found a strong majority of Iowa voters see these issues as serious problems:
Revenues to the trust fund, estimated at $150 million each year, would address all of these issues and would be subject to strict accountability measures and public audits.
The poll also found that Iowa voters see conserving natural resources as ensuring a legacy for future generations, with 95 percent of those polled agreeing we need to ensure children and grandchildren can enjoy Iowa’s water, land, wildlife, and natural beauty the same way we do today.
“Wildlife habitat has been disappearing for generations in Iowa, evidenced by the drastically declining pheasant population,” said Matt O’Connor of Pheasants Forever. “Hunters and anglers across the state want our leaders to act now to provide the funding necessary to protect our natural areas.“
Iowa’s parks and trails also would benefit from the trust fund.
“Iowa’s park system and trails are important to the state’s economy, helping attract and retain businesses and a skilled workforce who expect appealing recreational opportunities,” said Tom Hazelton, CEO of Iowa’s County Conservation System.
The poll found that 82 percent of Iowa voters agree the state’s parks, trails, wildlife areas, and other public lands are an essential part of the economy.