Capital Clicks

Controversial public lands bill dies in Iowa House

By: - March 30, 2023 7:05 pm

A snapping turtle on public land in Carroll County. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

A bill that was widely derided for its potential to diminish the state’s acquisition of land for public parks and recreational trails did not survive a legislative deadline for further consideration this session.

Senate File 516 cleared the Iowa Senate about two weeks ago but stumbled in the House. It would have made maintenance of current public lands — and public partnerships with private landowners — paramount to acquiring new property.

The bill was criticized by conservationists, hunters, cyclists and others for its nebulous language. It did not clearly define what level of maintenance was necessary before the state should acquire new property.

The bill was championed by cattle producers, who said the type of land that is not ideal for crops — and most likely to be bought by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources — is a low-cost option for beginning livestock farmers that should remain available for sale.

The bill temporarily stalled in the House Environmental Protection Committee and was moved to the State Government Committee, where on Wednesday it received support from two of three subcommittee members.

On Thursday, the full committee was poised to vote on it — which would have kept it alive past the Legislature’s second funnel deadline — but ultimately it was not discussed.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.