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Local Editorials

Natural resources funding cannot wait

I had a totally different column prepared for the opening week of the legislature.  However, following my review of the Des Moines Sunday Register, I changed my plans. 

Highly interesting to me was the extensive amount of print devoted to the fact that both the House and Senate, and majority and minority leaders thereof, along with Governor Branstad, were predicting the session would be short and sweet, and comprised of topics that would just reach the threshold of what must be done.  After all, it’s an election year, and legislators want to get back to their districts and start campaigning.

That attitude is unacceptable to me, and I shall address my colleagues in the Senate with my opinion that brevity for the sake of adjourning early for political objectives is a disgrace. Readers will note that the list of priorities were surely not inclusive of anything that pertained to a focus on economic development or environmental protection and enhancement.

I was highly pleased that the opinion page contained an extensive editorial pertaining to the various tree insect pests that are not only in our state, but multiplying exponentially. 

Not only does this result in extensive costs to the state and cities, but home owners will feel the pain of having to pay for the eradication of diseased trees from public land and reforestation of same. 

In addition, our home and land owners will also pay the costs of tree removal and replanting on your own property. My fear is that legislators are oblivious that a problem exists, or they fail to understand the huge cost associated with the problem. 

As chair of the appropriation committee in the Senate for agriculture and natural resources, you can well bet I will be seeking adequate funding to meet the problem head-on.

I hope readers were able to review the article by leaders of the Iowa Woodland Owners Association and the organization known as Trees Forever. They identified that “32,000 football fields of trees are gone,” and suggested it was “time for lawmakers to approve a proposed healthy woodlands initiative for Iowa.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

And, as chair of the committee that would pursue such an effort, I will be seeking the $3.8 million which would fully fund the objectives. Folks must understand the necessity of adequate tree and forest cover in the overall ecosystem. 

A direct correlation exists with the presence of trees, with protecting the soil and enhancing water quality. Add to that the fact that air quality is largely dependent on the canopies of trees. 

This week will see the governor’s budget address and the state of the judiciary. Other than those two perfunctory items, I would assume all legislators will be in their respective caucuses discussing “priorities.” 

Rest assured, I will be adding mine to the mix. After all, where would we be without trees, ground vegetation, soil and water? Our natural resources are the basics of our existence, and my message will be loud and clear.

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