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A couple of thoughts

March 24, 2012
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

The Iowa legislature is busy right now down in Des Moines. It is not an easy work that they do. I appreciate the effort and certainly wouldn't want the job. Even though each person has his or her own committee responsibilities and focus, there are so many issues and concerns ranging across such a broad spectrum. And each has an impact on the quality of our lives as Iowans.

If you have successfully run for one of these jobs down there you depend upon the advice, skills and knowledge of others. That's the way it should be. That it seems to me is how it has to be. I have never encountered anyone who knows everything about everything. Although, I have met some people who seem to think that is the case. Fortunately only a few.

With all of that said, there are a couple of issues down in the statehouse that concern me from the conservation perspective.

The first is the bottle bill. It appears to be a dead issue for any action in this session so some might say "Why address it now?" Well, because while nothing may happen this year, it really needs to be something that gets real attention before next year. There are different sides of the issue just in regards to whether we have a bottle deposit at all anymore. Now is the time to work really hard at finding solutions then. The Grocers Association doesn't like having the empties in their facilities. I don't blame them. Then rather than eliminating the deposit, lets make a real effort to find ways to fund the additional redemption centers. I don't see how the present ones operate on the small profit margin anyway and obviously we see new ones start up and can't make it.

Regardless, we see a huge amount of those deposit containers redeemed by the user or others. It was a great idea way back when our present Governor was serving his first terms and it is still a good idea. I have long advocated for an expansion of deposits to include the ever-growing list of bottled waters, energy drinks, etc. that are popular in single serving size but have no deposit. In communities with decent recycling programs, people can conveniently choose to recycle rather than throw the containers in the landfill. But I think that a deposit on those things would move the majority of those not being handled properly into the recycling stream, as well.

And now for the second issue of concern. Legislatures and our Governor need to listen to constituents. They also employ trained professionals within the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to perform research and manage the fish, wildlife and other natural resources that we enjoy and want to protect in this state. And from my perspective, I don't see that this is happening in several cases.

I read in the Des Moines Register recently that there is a bill in the legislature that would direct the DNR to stock pheasants at a single southern Iowa site and compare the results to a similar southern Iowa site to "see" if it makes a difference. It has passed the House and will be considered by a similar bill in the Senate.

In my conversations with people in this area, I can see where the notion comes from. Many, many people here think that stocking pheasants is the answer. That, along with closing the pheasant hunting season.

The interesting thing about the bill being considered right now is that the legislators have included a provision that the study be privately funded. That part might make sense to me because I don't want to waste our tax dollars on a study that has already been shown by years and years of good pheasant research by our own DNR to be wasteful of our money!

As a supporter of private conservation organizations that have done good, sound conservation work, I hate to see those funds wasted in that manner, as well. And those private groups aren't enthusiastic about the thought of it either.

Out of space for this column. One thing that just about everyone does agree on we would like to see the population rebound! Maybe I'll plan to do a full column on Iowa's pheasant plight next week.



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