Legislators See Conservation Practices First-hand

posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 in Water and Land News

Legislators at Tesdell Century Farm June 2021The Iowa Environmental Council and the Mississippi River Legislative Caucus, part of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, hosted legislators from across the state during a tour of the Tesdell Century Farm near Slater, Iowa, on Friday, June 11.  

The organizations coordinated the event as part of the Mississippi River Network’s River Days of Action to demonstrate and educate legislators on successful conservation practice implementation on a working farm. 

Owner Lee Tesdell discussed his electric vehicle, solar energy installation, and his work with his tenants on innovative farming conservation practices such as no-till, saturated buffers, and cover cropping. 

“When people see these practices in person, they can easily understand their function and value.... We expect them to take our discussion to heart when they consider policy related to conservation in Iowa,” Tesdell said.  

Legislators on Tesdell Farm Tour

Legislators also heard from Polk County Public Works Water Resources Planner John Swanson about Polk County’s ”blitz” of water quality projects, which is installing bioreactors and saturated buffers at scale. He discussed ways this approach could be adopted in other areas of the state and the need for long-term funding for professionals to make these sorts of projects easy for farmers, landowners, and contractors.  

"After touring the Tesdell Century Farm, legislators are inspired and dedicated to working together to improve soil health throughout the Mississippi River corridor,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of NCEL. “It is our hope that farms such as Lee Tesdell's can serve as an inspiration and road map for encouraging sustainable farming practices in policymaking at the local, state, and federal levels." 

Lighthawk flight during farm tour 2021Legislators also had an opportunity to take an airplane ride offered by LightHawk, giving passengers a unique perspective of the farm and the nearby Four Mile Creek, Raccoon River, and Des Moines River watersheds. The flight highlighted urban-rural connections and the importance of good land stewardship for protecting water quality, mitigating flood risk, and promoting outdoor recreation.  

“This was a great day of events, both on the ground and in the air, showing strong support for conservation and water quality. It is especially exciting to see the broad coalition of people represented – Republican and Democratic legislators, farmers and environmentalists, landowners and tenants, and leaders from local, state, and federal government,” said Brian Campbell, Executive Director of IEC.  

Legislators in attendance included Representative Art Staed, Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, Representative David Maxwell, Representative Norlin Mommsen, Senator Chris Cournoyer, Senator Jesse Green, as well as members of Congresswoman Cindy Axne’s staff.  

  1. conservation
  2. iowa legislature
  3. land stewardship
  4. nitrate pollution
  5. renewable energy
  6. saturated buffers
  7. sustainable agriculture