Call to Action, Iowa…

Based on the feedback I have received, many of you join me in passionate opposition of HF 2449, a proposed bill currently being discussed by the House Ways and Means Committee, and which could soon be brought before the Iowa House of Representatives  for vote.  This bill aimed at government efficiency (ie budget cuts) encompasses a vast array of state programs, but of particular concern, sets the stage for sale of our public lands (for further details, click here.)

I just want to take this opportunity to thank you all for the supportive agreement, but also remind everyone that anger and disapproval kept quietly amongst ourselves will not offer a solution. It is very important that we each take it upon ourselves to exercise our civic duty in expressing our wishes to the appropriate elected officials.

As this bill would first need to pass the House, and may be addressed in the coming days, it is imperative that we reach out to our state representatives immediately. (Of course, while we’re at it, we might as well address the senators too.) If you are uncertain as to who your elected officials are, or how to reach them, that information can be found at-

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/Legislators/find.aspx

If you are a resident of Cedar or Muscatine County, our State Representative is Jeff Kaufmann. His official email address is-  

jeff.kaufmann@legis.state.ia.us     (Copy and paste this into your message.)

Some things to keep in mind when writing such correspondence:

– Allow yourself to be taken seriously. Demonstrate that you have read the proposed bill (here it is, the anti-public lands portions are under Division 5, Section 16-17, on pp. 8-9) and understand its implications. Explain why you feel this is not in the best interest of Iowa. And be respectful. If you start your letter with “Hey Jerk-wad…” you probably won’t get too far.

-Be concise. It’s okay (and advisable) to write with passion, but this isn’t the time to relay your life story or go on about every state park you’ve ever visited. If you have a specific example of how a particular place has impacted you and why it is important to keep these areas within the public domain, that’s fine. Share it. But keep in mind that those on the other end won’t be willing to read an extended manuscript just trying to determine the point. If you find yourself naming chapters, you’ve gone too far.

-Include your residential address with your signature. Our entire political system is (hypothetically) designed around elected officials purveying the will of their constituent voters. Make sure they realize you are one of them.

For further example, I will include the letter I have sent to Representative Kaufmann below. My hope is that this might provide somewhat of a template and spark ideas, but it is not intended to put words into your mouth.  Those of you who object to this legislation each have your own unique and personal reasons for doing so. This is your chance to express that, and let your own voice be heard.

Thank you for taking the time to fight for Iowa’s public lands, and please help spread the word by sharing this information with your neighbors and friends.

Example Letter

Dear Mr. Kaufmann,

I am writing to voice my opposition of a bill that may soon be brought before the House, HF 2449, because of portions which directly threaten the future of our public lands. In a time of increased environmental pressures, it is not only important that we protect the ecological balance supported by our natural spaces, but that we also preserve the recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual opportunities that public lands offer the people of Iowa.

There are several reasons I find the provisions listed under Division 5, Sections 16-17 of this proposal objectionable. For one, even though the rhetoric has been changed from its previous version, it is clear that the analysis called for under Section 16 is in preparation for the sale of our public lands. Why else would the focus be almost entirely on property valuation? Why else would tax payer money be directed to fund such an extensive study? Though I can appreciate the need to address budgetary concerns, liquidation of our public land is unconscionable, and not the answer. The areas in question have been set aside to maintain the natural integrity of our state. They provide habitat for wildlife, protection for our watersheds, and access for Iowan’s to enjoy the great outdoors. Many of these areas have been funded through the sale of licenses and habitat stamps to ensure that they will be protected for the enjoyment of residents now and for generations to come. Our parks, forests, and natural areas are not sources of reserve capital to be drawn upon during difficult financial times.

Furthermore, it is extremely troubling that passage of this bill would prohibit the Department of Natural Resources from purchasing future “agricultural lands.” Technically, nearly all land in Iowa can be defined as “agricultural.” Prohibition of the agency charged with protecting our natural resources from engaging in conservation through land acquisition is hypocritical. If the opportunity arises for the DNR to purchase a tract of land that provides critical protection to one of our state’s waterways, for example, why should this not legally be allowed? It seems the only realistic outcome of such a provision would be in reducing market competition and furthering the availability of lands to developers and corporate farms; neither of which tend to prioritize the well being of our environment.

As a fifth generation resident of Cedar County, I treasure Iowa’s natural heritage. In continuing and improving upon our legacy of land stewardship for the sake of this and future generations, I want to live amongst neighbors who value our natural resources, and be represented by those who prove they do as well.

In these regards, I ask that you please stand up for our citizens, our children, and our public lands by opposing HF 2449; and any subsequent legislation that might compromise our environmental future.

Thank you.

 

Josh Meier

1020 220th Street

Tipton, Iowa

 

Also, I have discovered a website dedicated to this issue which has a petition you can sign to voice your opposition. I will link that here, but in doing so I really encourage that you take the time to write a letter as well. Showing that you care enough to actually put your personal feelings in print will carry far greater weight than disposing of three seconds to sign an online petition.

http://www.iowaparksforsale.com/petition/

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6 thoughts on “Call to Action, Iowa…

  1. Thank you Josh for bringing attention to and making it so easy to voice opposition to this bill with your complete information and links to who we need to write to.
    Jill

  2. Hi, Josh. I see that an Amendment H-8403 was filed today for striking out this section. I hope it goes through…will be watching. And yes, letters did go out already. And will every Monday until this is stricken out.

    • That’s good news! Thanks for the update and for your involvement, and I’ll be hoping and watching with you. (By the way, I had a chance to check out your blog briefly this afternoon. Good stuff- it’s nice to have another Iowa nature blog to follow along with.)

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