Sunday, September 19, 2021


Hundreds of wealthy Americans back the Biden Build Back Better Act; Roger Stone is served with a warrant on live radio; and family caregivers are in need of assistance.


Virginia gubernatorial candidates debate; former federal prosecutor Michael Sussmann indicted for lying to FBI; lawmakers set to question oil industry over climate disinformation; and FDA scientists express skepticism over booster shots.


Lawsuits stall debt relief for America's Black farmers; Idaho hospitals using "critical care" protocols; grant money boosts rural towns in Utah and more conservation acreage could protect the iconic sage grouse.

Pandemic, Racial Reckoning Renew Calls in IA for Outdoors Investments


Thursday, September 10, 2020   

DES MOINES, Iowa -- This year, many more Iowans have flocked to parks and other outdoor spaces to escape the pandemic.

That's prompted calls for more government investment in natural resources, and to make them more accessible to people of color.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said state park attendance is up by more than one million people when compared with the same time last year. Observers connect the increase to the pandemic.

Also in 2020, racial reckoning has brought more attention to longstanding disparities, including outdoors access.

Cody Smith, policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs, applauded Congress for its recent approval of the Great American Outdoors Act. He said it's time for state leaders to do their part.

"We've been waiting for a decade at this point for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, also known as I-WILL, to be funded," Smith said.

The Center wants the Legislature to revive a plan offered by Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this year.

The Invest in Iowa Act would boost the state sales tax by one cent to add money to the voter-approved trust fund.

Supporters say it would empower local communities to enhance the outdoors experience for all residents, creating equal access. But the plan initially was met with mixed reviews, including concerns over the tax-hike effect on lower-income residents.

But supporters say the plan will bring tax relief in other areas, including income and property taxes.

They say it also would boost funding for certain initiatives, including the Local Conservation Partnerships Program.

Lori Scovel, executive director for the Limestone Bluffs Resource Conservation and Development Area, said while she's not advocating for a specific bill, additional long-term funding would be a big help.

"That's great if you can give us money for three years," Scovel said. "But what about 10 years down the road? Consistent funding, sustainability that can keep these organizations going and not see a turnover in staff and effort."

Certain environmental groups have questioned whether the plan places too much of an emphasis on economic development through the outdoors, and not enough species and wildlife protection.

Despite some lukewarm response, the Center said a survey it conducted this year found that nearly 60% of Iowans supported it.

Disclosure: The Center for Rural Affairs contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Environment, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Rural/Farming. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, cover-crop acres in the United States have increased to 10 million. (Adobe Stock)


EAST TROY, Wis. - Wisconsin farmers are looking ahead to the fall harvest, and those who use cover crops face a deadline to sign up for a research …

Social Issues

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, is lashing out against the idea of Critical Race Theory, filing a bill to ban its use in all …

Social Issues

By Sonali Kolhatkar for Yes! Media. Broadcast version by Lily Bohlke for Commonwealth News Service reporting for the YES! Media-Public News Service …

According to a letter from academics and scientists urging global climate action, air pollution caused by climate change was responsible for one in five deaths worldwide in 2018. (Craig/Adobe Stock)


MANCHESTER, N.H. - Three New Hampshire professors are among those who've signed a letter urging the United Nations General Assembly to adopt what's …

Social Issues

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - One out of every three people incarcerated in the United States has contracted COVID-19, and a new report shows how state …

Oregon's Hispanic population grew 30% from 2010 to 2020. (Gstudio/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hispanic Heritage Month began this week, and will be celebrated through Oct. 15. Oregon has a rapidly growing Hispanic population…

Social Issues

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- As the Biden administration challenges a Texas law restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood for …

Social Issues

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Social Security, the program credited with lifting 15 million older residents in Wyoming and across the U.S. out of poverty…


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021