State panel approves status-quo DNR spending ordered by governor

By: - September 8, 2021 3:05 pm

Water quality work is among the key roles of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Shown is West Okoboji Lake and Arnolds Park amusement park. (Photo courtesy of David Thoreson)

The state’s lead environmental agency would operate with the same $104.2 million in appropriations as this year under a proposed fiscal year 2023 budget limited by Gov. Kim Reynolds. 

The governor-appointed Natural Resource Commission endorsed the appropriations request at its meeting Wednesday. Following Reynolds’ guidelines for budgeting, the department would begin with virtually every program getting no increase in appropriations. 

The exception was a $750,000 boost for park improvements approved by state lawmakers.

The budget would cover the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022. The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, also appointed by the governor, is expected to vote on the proposal.

Unless the governor changes the amounts during her deliberations, the budget would call for general fund appropriations of $12 million for department operations, $1 million for state parks, $1.5 million for floodplain management and $500,000 for forestry management. 

The Environment First fund would provide $12 million for the Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP), $6.2 million for parks operations and maintenance and $2.95 million for water quality monitoring among the larger items in a $24 million appropriation.

The department would run fish and wildlife programs, groundwater protection, and underground storage tank work out of $51.5 million in funds containing user fees and other non-general-fund cash.

The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, which contains gambling revenues, would provide $13.6 million, including $9.6 million for lake water quality improvements, $2 million for park infrastructure, and $1 million for water trails and low-head dam mitigation. 

Lifetime trout fishing license

The commission approved a notice of intended action regarding rules to implement a lifetime trout-fishing license approved by state lawmakers last session. The licenses would cost $65 each.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.

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