On February 18, the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus welcomed national and state-based sportsmen’s group representatives, along with Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff, to a luncheon celebrating the many and varied benefits that our outdoor heritage provides to the state.
Co-Chair, Senator Dick Dearden, commented, “I appreciate everyone coming together in a bipartisan and bicameral way to try to provide opportunities for Iowa’s citizens to hunt and fish.”
House Democratic Co-Chair, Representative Scott Ourth added, “The Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus has grown to become a real force with regard to protecting Iowa’s outdoor heritage. Lawmakers are looking more and more to the Sportsmen’s Caucus for guidance on legislation that affects hunting and fishing.”
The focal point of the gathering was to highlight the importance of continued and strengthened conservation efforts in Iowa by funding the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, created via a voter-approved legislative referendum in 2010. This approved ballot measure amended Iowa’s Constitution to create the fund and a dedicated funding source generated by three-eighths of one percent of the next sales tax increase. Currently, the Trust remains unfunded.
With vast natural resources and a rich sportsmen’s culture comes significant management responsibility. In recognition of this, sportsmen’s and other conservation groups have rallied together to form the Iowa Water and Land Legacy (IWILL) coalition to advocate the importance of the Trust Fund. Coalition members, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever all addressed the crowd, emphasizing the importance of the Trust to Iowa’s sportsmen’s community, describing the positive impact a dedicated funding source has had in other states, and articulating how the additional conservation dollars will further conserve the state’s fish and wildlife resources and protect hunting and angling for future generations.
Howard Vincent, President and CEO of Pheasants Forever, explained how citizen approval of Minnesota’s conservation tax that passed seven years ago continues to rise. “Minnesotans know that for every dollar they put into their communities for conservation, they’re getting a $4 return on that of economic punch,” said Vincent.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources also provided background on their highly successful hunter education program and explained the importance of apprentice hunting programs across the country.
The event concluded with Ducks Unlimited presenting Caucus Co-Chair, Senator David Johnson, with a legislative award for his longtime commitment to conservation in Iowa. Sen. Johnson closed the lunch by commenting on the importance of passing legislation that would fund the Trust and help safeguard our sportsmen’s heritage. “I don’t like a deficit building every year in our opportunities to be outdoors. The evidence is clear what people in Iowa want. Let’s get this thing done,” said Sen. Johnson.
The Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Luncheon Title Sponsors were National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and Pheasants Forever
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?