March 20th 2014 Column by Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm: The foundation of Iowa’s economy and way of life is rooted in our abundant resources, both natural and cultural. Our rich soils, plentiful water and other assets make Iowa a great place for agriculture and manufacturing. They also offer residents a good quality of life.
Preservation of our resources is vital to Iowa’s future. In 1989, the Legislature created the Resource Enhancement & Protection (REAP) program. REAP looks after Iowa’s natural resources and cultural history through land and habitat protection, state and local park improvements, soil and water quality projects, and funding for conservation, cultural and historical organizations.
Over 25 years, REAP has supported 14,535 projects in all 99 counties. Investment of $263 million in state funds has leveraged two to three times as much in private, local and federal money to improve our state. REAP projects fall into seven categories: State Open Spaces, City Parks and Opens Spaces, Soil and Water Conservation, County Conservation, Land Management, Historical Resources, and Roadside Vegetation.
This year, the Legislature should continue Iowa’s commitment to REAP with funding that reflects the value of this successful program.
Among the many REAP efforts are the Historical Resource Development Program and Country School Grants. Through April 25, these programs are accepting applications. The Historical Resource Development Program offers grants to preserve, conserve, interpret and educate the public about Iowa’s historic built environment, museum collections and documentary materials, such as diaries, letters, photographs and newspapers.
The Country School Program provides grants for the preservation and maintenance of Iowa’s one and two-room country schools. The money can also go toward interpreting the history of country schools or for educational activities taking place at country schools.
Complete details about the grants and application materials are available at www.iowahistory.org/about/grants or by calling the State Historical Society at 515-281-4228. Learn more about REAP at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/REAP.aspx.
UPCOMING PUBLIC FORUMS
• Saturday, March 29, 9 a.m.: Chickasaw County Legislative Forum at the Farm Bureau Building in New Hampton
• Saturday, March 29, 11 a.m.: Floyd County Listening Post at Aromas Coffee, 105 N. Main Street, Charles City