They tried to ban public land. Here's how we strike back.

We're fighting for a better future here.
We respond with $180+ million annually "for the purposes of protecting and enhancing water quality and natural areas in this State including parks, trails, and fish and wildlife habitat, and conserving agricultural soils in this State."

You know, all those things we amended the state's constitution for in 2010 but which the suits in Des Moines have yet to fund.

In case you've been living in a cave (or just hiding from this endless winter) this past week or so, here's a quick bit of background to catch you up.

Last week the Iowa House introduced HF542, a bill that would prohibit nearly all future land acquisitions for parks and natural resources. The public outcry was loud and decisive. Public land supporters from all over the state called, emailed, texted, tweeted, and lambasted the attack on social media. Busloads of people (literally) flooded the capitol building in a mass showing of opposition during the subcommittee hearing.

Busloads (literally) of #PublicLandOwners flocked to Des Moines last week to oppose legislation that would all but ban future public land acquisitions. 

Suffice to say the ill-conceived bill died an early death.

I call it "ill-conceived" insomuch that if we expect our representatives to actually represent Iowans, this bill was completely counter to the demands of the majority. Which is why I feel that decisively squashing the bill was only the first step. 

We parried that punch. Now we should strike back. 


Introduce a bill that funds the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund by increasing the state sales tax by 3/8 of a percent. 


The question of where Iowans stand on funding natural resources and outdoor recreation was answered quite decisively back in 2010 when 63% of the state's voters chose to write the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund into the constitution.

Further reading: How the Trust Fund came to be.

Subsequent polling since then indicates that support has either remained steady or risen, even among conservatives and the ag community.

So why is nobody in Des Moines proposing to do this? It's not an election year so there are no reelection campaigns to worry about. Based on the amount of public support behind it, if they funded the Trust now, they'd be able to campaign on the fact that they were the ones to enact landmark legislation directing $180+ million ANNUALLY to the resources Iowans care so much about.

If the Anti-Public-Land Bureau has a problem with it, we can remind them that as the current funding distribution formula is written (the formula that was promised to Iowans when they voted to establish the Trust Fund and which Bureau-backed legislators want to change), the ag community will stand to reap something like $100 million of those funds annually.

Further reading: National and global implications of Iowa's soil loss problem

It seems like it should be a no-brainer. And to the several hundred people that flocked to Des Moines last Monday, it is. To the majority of Iowans, it is. But to the people those Iowans elected to represent their interests, apparently it's not.

And that irritates the hell out of me.

I would love to somehow tap the collective outrage that my fellow Iowans showed toward last week's attack on public lands. I would love to channel that ire toward the legislature's inaction to fund the Trust. But it's hard to get people riled up about something their lawmakers aren't doing.

But clearly that won't stop me from trying.

So I'll keep soapboxing here on this blog and in person in front of everyone who will give me a chance to. I'll keep attending lobby days and emailing and leaving messages with the suits in Des Moines in hopes of soliciting a counter-punch to the beating our parks and soils too often take legislatively. I'll keep doing what I can, to the best of my ability, to move policy forward that creates a better outdoor future for my family and future generations of Iowans. Because for me, it's a fight worth fighting.

So now the question is: Are you in this fight too, or are you just a spectator?

Ready to join this fight? Contact your legislator and tell them you support funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund AND the formula that accompanies it. It only takes a few minutes to punch out an email or leave a phone message at the switchboard. Hold them accountable. Make them listen. Remind them that they work for us.

To learn more about the effort to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, check out the Iowa's Water and Land Legacy website at or follow the coalition on Facebook.

And finally, keep up to date on the battle. Subscribe to Outdoor Executive Dad to get future posts sent right to your email.