Events coming up during the next two weeks

A busy week at the Iowa legislature kicks off Monday evening with what’s sure to be a packed Iowa House hearing on a constitutional amendment to ban legal recognition for same-sex relationships. Groups supporting conservation of Iowa’s natural resources have several rallies and lobby days planned during the next two weeks. Those and other event details are after the jump. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you know of an event that should be included on this calendar.

Yet another winter storm is heading for Iowa this week, but spring rains aren’t too far off. Gardeners and anyone who cares about conserving water and reducing runoff may be interested in a sale of rain barrels (all repurposed to keep waste out of landfills). Proceeds benefit the non-profit 1000 Friends of Iowa, specifically to “support the development of an educational exhibit which focuses on land use and water as it relates to run-off from non-porous surfaces as well as to bring attention to the many uses for collected rain water.” Those uses include watering gardens, washing cars and general housecleaning. Click here for more information about the rain barrels and here to order by February 11.

Monday, January 31

The Iowa House is holding a public hearing from 6:30 to 8:45 pm to discuss House Joint Resolution 6, a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and any legal recognition for same-sex couples. One Iowa is asking supporters to arrive at the capitol rotunda early, around 5 pm, to get seats in the gallery. No word on whether the FAMiLY LEADER will again give cookies to the marriage equality supporters who attend the hearing.

Sally Bowzer, chief of staff of Representative Leonard Boswell’s Iowa office, is retiring after 27 years working in state government and 10 years on Boswell’s staff. Boswell is hosting a reception in Bowzer’s honor on January 31 from 5 pm to 7 pm at Baby Boomer’s Restaurant at 303 East 5th Street in Des Moines.  

Tuesday, February 1

Iowa Rivers Revival from 5pm to 7 pm at Noodle Zoo Café, E 6th and Locust in the east village neighborhood of Des Moines. This event is fee and open to all river supporters. Here are a few of the pending bills Iowa Rivers Revival is most concerned about:

Many bills that would negatively impact natural resource management have been introduced in the Iowa Legislature.  There are bills that would limit hiking of state lands to trails only, severely limit the DNR from acquiring real estate for public use, roll back bottle deposits, sell a state park, and reallocate REAP, and take back remaining balance of last year’s appropriation for REAP.

House File 45-REAP

Every year conservationists have to lobby hard for full funding of REAP ($20M) which was lowered last year to $15M from $16M and the previous year and from $18M the year before that.  Now the Iowa House wants to HF45 take back the uncommitted FY10 REAP funds of over $3 million.  This is an attempt to balance this year’s budget, however represents a miniscule portion of the Iowa budget.  This REAP appropriation was designated by our elected legislators, but now the new legislature plans to take that appropriation back, even after a 63% voter mandating more funding for natural resources.

Additionally, the bill limits the DNR from adding any new real estate, even easements, to public use lands.  And further, HF51 has been introduced to reallocate REAP funds from use in purchasing real estate to management of real estate.  HF64 further limits the use of eminent domain to be sure it is not used in any way to add land for all Iowans to enjoy.  There is a full on assault on our right to acquire real estate for the public good.  This has to be stopped!  Call your legislators today and ask for a NO vote on HF45.

Senate File 53-Watershed Management Planning

SF53, has been introduced by Senator Hogg, this bill would direct the DNR to establish goals for reducing flood damage through retention structures or wetlands.  Senator Hogg has approached IRR to ask our supporters to contact their legislators to support SF53.  Senator Hogg’s leadership in flood mitigations efforts stretches to the coordination of the newly established Cedar River Watershed Association who was effective passing an ordinance in Cedar Rapids that would not allow development in the 500 year floodplain.  We will continue to monitor the bill and watch for any amendments that would change the intent.  Be sure to let your legislators know that this is a good bill and Iowa needs better floodplain management.

Example:  this is a current map of the Iowa River Greenbelt project that was started in by the Hardin County Conservation board in the 1950’s and is still one of their priorities today.  Without DNR authority to buy land, enter into conservation easements, or accept donated land we would not have this project.  Long-term economic development is dependent on public access to natural resources it is a non-partisan, business friendly goal to have more protected greenbelts that are key to outdoor sports and clean water.

DNR Rivers Program

Governor Branstad is considering layoff newly hired employees to balance the current budget, this could have a disastrous affect on the DNR’s River Team.  River users are getting a lot for the very small cost of this program and it must be kept intact.  The Rivers Program has provided invaluable dam hazard mitigation, which has received support for past legislatures, to help educate Iowan’s about dams safety, as a result the dams and people using them are safer today than before initiating this program.  The program went through a statewide planning process it create a River Trails development manual for communities that would like to develop water trails on their rivers, and additionally, providing recreational opportunities that are free and close to home.  We are all experiencing tough economic times and now more than ever we have a greater need to offer safe, low-cost, close to home recreational opportunities.  Last year the DNR’s Low Head Dam Safety program was completely eliminated from annual appropriations – we have to speak up to save the programs that are most important to us and Iowa’s rivers!

Thursday, February 3

The Iowa Environmental Council and many of its member organizations are holding a lobby day at the state capitol.

You can drop in anytime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to view member organization exhibits and talk with legislators about Iowa’s most pressing environmental issues. Learn about our current legislative priorities at a press conference at 11 a.m. Talking Points and Iowa Environmental Council staff will also be available to provide lobbying guidance and to speak to groups who come to participate.

Lawmakers tell us over and over again that they need to hear from Iowans who live in their districts-not just the organizations that represent them. Please plan to attend and to let your state Senator and Representative know in advance, that you plan to visit them on February 3.

By the way, the Iowa Environmental Council publishes a useful legislative bulletin periodically during the session. You can also sign up to receive action alerts regarding pending legislation.

Sunday, February 6

Iowa State professor Gene Takle will answer the question, “Will climate change impact the sustainability of Iowa farms?” as part of the annual Shivvers Lecture at 7 pm in the ISU Memorial Union Sun Room in Ames. From the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture:

Designing sustainable practices for managing today’s landscapes under pressure for producing food, feed, fuel and fiber presents major challenges. However, designing sustainable practices that also are resilient under future climates adds a new dimension to these challenges. Takle, who has a dual appointment in ISU Agronomy and ISU Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, will outline some current and future threats to sustainability of resilient landscapes.

“Gene is internationally recognized as one of our leading climate scientists and he has given considerable attention to the impacts of climate change on agriculture, so his lecture should be of special interest to Iowa farmers,” said Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center of Sustainable Agriculture, which is co-sponsor of the event with the ISU Committee on Lectures.

Takle is the director of Iowa State’s Climate Science Program and a member of the Iowa Climate Change Impacts Committee that recently submitted its report to the Iowa Legislature. The report details the impact of climate change in Iowa (details at www.energy.iowa.gov ).

The Shivvers lecture has been presented at ISU since 1969 in memory of John Shivvers, who farmed near Knoxville. The lectures focus on ways that agriculture can sustain rather than destroy natural resources. This year’s lecture is part of ISU’s Live Green! Sustainability Series.

Wednesday, February 9

The Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy coalition is organizing supporters of natural resources funding to come to the capitol. From Mark Langgin’s recent diary at Bleeding Heartland:

Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy – RALLY DAY

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

9-11AM

PRE-RALLY: Wallace Bldg Auditorium-E 9th & Grand Av, Des Moines

RALLY:  Iowa State Capitol Building: E 9th St & Grand Av, Des Moines

WEAR any color solid blue – we want to present water as we FLOW into the Iowa State Capitol

YES 63

Join Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy on February 9th as we ascend upon the State Capitol to remind our legislators that Iowans overwhelmingly support increased and sustainable funding for water quality, soil conservation, and our outdoor natural areas.  Help exhibit this energy.  We will provide a brief presentation, including messaging about our visit, comments from supportive legislators, and RALLY DAY stickers and materials.  

It’s time for our elected officials to listen to Iowans and FUND THE TRUST FUND.  Help us FLOOD the Capitol Rotunda in blue-volunteers are asked to wear any solid blue shirt and to be a part of statewide presence-children are encouraged to participate.

Rally Day Objectives:

  * Improving Water Quality For Future

Generations

  * Investing In Our Agricultural Economy By Reducing Soil Erosion

  * Protecting Fish & Wildlife Habitat And Public Access To Hunting Areas

  * Creating Jobs And Economic Opportunity In Both Rural & Urban Iowa

63% of Iowa voters affirmed the NEED for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, which provides a permanent and constitutionally protected funding mechanism for conserving and enhancing water quality, reducing flooding, protecting agricultural soils, fish and wildlife habitat and natural areas while also providing for our parks, trails, outdoor recreation and educational needs.

Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy continues to work towards fulfilling the will of Iowa voters by advocating for the following three objectives:

Preserve  Work to provide a dedicated sustainable funding sources for conservation without growing the size of government, by preserving existing funding levels for voluntary conservation programs and to continue to invest in important programs such as the Environment First Fund, REAP, and others that invest in Iowa’s natural resources without raising taxes.

Protect  Safeguard the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund allocation formula as spelled out during the 2010 legislative session through bipartisan consensus.

Provide  Identify and advocate for a sustainable source of Trust Fund revenue and supplement existing conservation funding in lieu of a 3/8th percent state sales tax increase.

Funding for voluntary conservation incentives and critical natural resource and outdoor recreation infrastructure can help create jobs, grow our economy, and protect our quality of life in Iowa – without creating new built in spending obligations.

Funding the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation

Trust Fund demonstrates a commitment to improving Iowa’s water quality and conserving our agricultural soils.

Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy is an Iowa based non-profit operating as a project of The Conservation Campaign as a 501c(4) non-profit.  www.iowaswaterandlandlegacy.org

Thursday, February 10

Another lobby day at the capitol for environment-minded Iowans:

You are invited to join Trees Forever and the Coalition for Iowa’s Woodlands and Trees at the Iowa State Capitol on Feb. 10, 2011.  We will have displays in the West Wing of the Rotunda from 9 am to 3 pm.

We need volunteers to attend, speak with their legislators and help around the displays throughout the day.  If you are interested, please email Becky at bsmith AT treesforever.org or call her at 319-373-0650 ext. 12.

Your voice at the Capitol can make a difference on issues like House File 45, which includes the following items that will negatively impact our environment:

   * De-appropriates over 3 million dollars from this years REAP funding

   * Eliminates the Office of Energy Independence

   * Directs the DOT to not pay for any roadside wildflowers or native plants this fiscal year

   * Eliminates all language supporting smart planning land use principles from the Iowa Code

Other organizations displaying or providing materials with us are the  Iowa Tree Farm Committee, Iowa Woodland Owners Association, The Brenton Arboretum, Iowa DNR, Dept. of Ag and Land Stewardship and Iowa State Extension.

Parking at the Capitol: The most convenient parking at the capitol is in the west or south parking lots. There is also free parking along the streets or in the parking garage just to the west of the Wallace Building. These are all easy walks, and if you like you can drop folks and displays off at the service door on the west side of the capitol, which has security. The only other door you can come in is the east door, which has gated parking for staff and legislators.

The Iowa Renewable Energy Association is holding a workshop on solar photovoltaic (PV) 101 at the Iowa Renewable Energy Training Center (IRETC) located at Prairiewoods in Hiawathwa (Cedar Rapids area). Click here for more details.

Friday, February 11

It’s the last day to order a rain barrel made of recycled materials to support 1000 Friends of Iowa. Click here for more information about the barrels and here to order.

Tuesday, February 15

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is holding a series of public meetings around the state to discuss water quality standards. The first will take place in Atlantic from 4 pm to 7 pm on February 15 at the Rock Island Depot, 102 Chestnut St. Background:

DES MOINES The DNR wants to know Iowans’ thoughts on improving the state’s water quality goals as the DNR conducts its everythree-years review of water quality standards. Iowans can attend one of six meetings across the state.

The meetings, part of the triennial review process set forth in the federal Clean Water Act, allow Iowans the opportunity to provide the DNR information to help in setting the goals for streams and rivers.

“This is the public’s opportunity to tell us what is important to them,” said Rochelle Cardinale, the DNR’s water quality standards coordinator. “We want to hear Iowans’ concerns about potential pollutant levels, how streams are being used and how to protect existing water quality.”

The triennial review process ensures water quality standards, as listed in Chapter 61 of the Iowa Administrative Code, are up-to-date. Following the public comment period, the DNR will meet with a technical advisory committee to evaluate the suggestions. The DNR will then prioritize issues identified in the comments and develop a proposed work plan to address those items.

Wednesday, February 16

The Iowa Department for Natural Resources has scheduled a public meeting to discuss lead air pollution in Council Bluffs:

The Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Bureau (DNR) will hold a public meeting Feb. 16 at 9:30 a.m. at the Council Bluffs Community Hall, 205 South Main Street, on a proposed lead nonattainment area in Council Bluffs. The purpose of the meetings is to provide more information on the proposed nonattainment area and seek input from the public, businesses and other affected stakeholders.

A nonattainment area is designated when outdoor (ambient) air pollution levels violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).  The lead monitor located in Council Bluffs has measured five violations of the NAAQS for lead, from data collected through October 2010.

In 2008 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the lead NAAQS from 1.5 to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, measured as a consecutive three-month rolling average.  EPA lowered the lead NAAQS due to recent scientific studies that indicate people’s health is impacted at lower levels than previously understood.

Because the monitor measures ambient air quality and not specific sources of lead pollution, the EPA has directed the DNR to make a nonattainment area boundary recommendation that will focus the DNR’s effort in planning to bring the affected area back into attainment by December 2016. Sources of lead emissions to the air include industrial combustion and ore and metals processing.

Please contact Jim McGraw at (515) 242-5167 jim.mcgraw AT dnr.iowa.gov or Matthew Johnson at (515) 242-5164 matthew.johnson AT dnr.iowa.gov with questions about the meeting. More information about the monitoring data is available on the DNR website at http://www.iowadnr.gov/air/pro…  

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