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We are blessed in Iowa to have some of the richest soils in the world, some of the best waters and wetlands, and a rich history of hunting, fishing and trapping and other outdoor recreation activities. I have been involved as an Iowa conservationist for many years — with Ducks Unlimited for approximately 35 years, serving as the state chairwoman for the last two years and now state council chairwoman. In addition, I served on the Natural Resource Commission for three years and have spent countless hours boating, camping, hiking and enjoying Iowa’s great outdoors. Conservation has been an integral part of my life because my husband Ed and I want to leave our land better than we found it.

Psalm 24:1 says “the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains; the world and those who dwell in it.” God has truly blessed Iowa, and as a follower of Jesus Christ, I take his command and call seriously. My conservation efforts done in partnership with my family, are oriented towards protecting the resources we have and restoring the resources we have lost or in need of stewarding. I want to make sure I did my part to steward God’s gift and leave a legacy for my daughters, grandchildren and their children. This is what the Lord commands of us.

That is also why I believe so strongly and have worked so hard in support of Iowa’s Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, or IWILL as it is often referred. In 2006, Iowa Legislature created a bipartisan taskforce of stakeholders and lawmakers to put forward the best solutions for conserving Iowa’s natural resources, especially existing unmet needs. The solution from this bipartisan group was to establish a trust and fund it with a three-eights of one cent sales tax increase. Then, in 2010, Iowans went to the ballot box and overwhelmingly approved the creation of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust with 63 percent of Iowans voting in favor of it. Funding the trust would provide significant funding for investments in voluntary soil and water conservation through Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The trust would also help fund technology that could improve yields and profits on Iowa farms while conserving our natural resources.

Not only is the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust good for our land, it is also good for our economy. Iowa’s wildlife and outdoor recreation community generates more than $7.6 billion of economic activity and tourism. This economic activity also creates and supports nearly 64,000 jobs and generates nearly $330 million in state tax revenue. Funding the trust will expand this part of Iowa’s economy through job creation, increased access to hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities and improving the quality of life for all Iowans — making Iowa even more attractive to business investment.

As our legislators discuss tax reform, I am praying that part of their efforts include funding the trust. I believe they would be helping all of us to honor our creator by giving us a great tool to steward our God-given resources here in Iowa.

It’s time for our elected officials to lead and fulfill the will of the people. Recent polls show overwhelming support for the trust with nearly 70 percent of Iowa voters in favor of it. I urge our legislators to listen to God’s message and fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. This can be done through meaningful and comprehensive tax reform being debated right now in the Legislature. Let us leave a legacy to our citizens, our families, and for God.

Kircher is chairwoman of Iowa Ducks Unlimited State Council.

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