Water and Land Stewardship Program Priorities
2023-2024 Clean Water and Land Stewardship Program Priorities
The long-term goal of the Water and Land Stewardship Program is to improve and protect Iowa’s water and land to strengthen Iowa’s resiliency, economy, public health, and quality of life. This requires widespread land-use change across Iowa. We will focus on increasing conservation and land stewardship practices that achieve any of the following: improve water quality, mitigate flooding, increase wildlife habitat, enhance outdoor recreation opportunities, protect soil health, and sequester carbon. Many practices provide several of these co-benefits. Widespread behavior change is necessary to achieve the goal of transformative land-use change across Iowa. Our policy priorities reflect a mix of incentives and requirements (carrots and sticks) to drive behavior change.
To that end, that Council will prioritize the following work in 2023-2024:
Mitigate and reduce agricultural pollution
Runoff, conveyance by tile drainage, and leaching of commercial fertilizer, manure, and sediments from agricultural lands are the largest sources of water pollution in Iowa, resulting in expensive drinking water treatment and contamination of our recreational waters. Iowa needs policies that will systematically and strategically deploy best management practices and basic standards of care on farm ground at a large scale.
- Support policies and programs that reduce pollution from conventional row-crop agriculture and industrial-scale livestock production.
- Support monitoring, transparency, and accountability provisions for publicly supported water quality projects.
- Oppose any efforts to weaken water quality standards, animal feeding operation regulations, or public health protections.
Create a diverse and resilient landscape
Extreme weather and climate events increasingly threaten Iowa’s communities, economy, and public health. Diversifying land use and investing in natural infrastructure on public and private lands improves quality of life, increases economic stability and development opportunities, promotes workforce recruitment and retention, and increases resiliency to natural disasters.
- Support funding to protect Iowa’s water and land resources, including: funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund; full $20 million funding for the Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP); dedicated funding for local watershed planning and coordination, including salary and benefits for watershed coordinators; funding for state agencies and other entities that protect our environment and advance land-use change, including IDNR; additional sources of water quality, water monitoring, environmental protection, and public health funding consistent with Council goals and priorities.
- Support policies and programs that incentivize or require conservation practices and/or land-use change that have multiple benefits such as protecting sources of drinking water, improving soil health, diversifying crops, increasing climate resiliency, creating recreation opportunities, or providing critical wildlife habitat.
- Support funding for climate resilience policies and programs that incorporate natural infrastructure solutions to reduce flood impacts and protect communities, such as floodplain reconnection and wetland restoration, and increase climate resiliency through land-use change.
- Oppose policies related to Iowa’s water and land that perpetuate systemic racism and inequality and/or result in disproportionate negative impacts on marginalized communities due to water pollution, flood risk, public lands management, or other outcomes under the purview of the Clean Water and Land Stewardship Program’s priority areas.
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