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Northeast Iowa conservationists played a big role in changing the minds of legislators in Des Moines this week

Posted: Wed, Mar 6, 2019 6:00 PM

When an Iowa House subcommittee wanted to hold a public hearing Monday on legislation which would prohibit the state, counties and cities from expanding parks, wildlife habitat areas and trails by any amount, they couldn't find a room big enough in the State Capitol to handle all the people who wanted to speak.

Among those in the crowd were people from Allamakee, Clayton, Winneshiek and Fayette counties who had filled a bus and ridden to Des Moines just to be at that hearing and a second hearing held by the State Senate later in the day.

Winneshiek County Conservation Director Barbara Schroeder was one of the people on the bus.  She says she was amazed by the assortment of farmers, county supervisors, county conservation board members, Pheasants Forever members and Trout Unlimited members who rode the bus to Des Moines--many of whom had never spoken at a legislative hearing before.

In addition to those who went to Des Moines in person, legislators say they received an average of 800 to 1,000 e-mails in opposition to the legislation.

The House File was tabled and may die on Friday, while the State Bill was cut in half, then forwarded to a bigger committee.  Schroeder says "We were noticed."  She says the effort to turn out people to speak about the important of public parks, trails and other public lands was "extremely effective."

Says Schroeder, "The public got their voices heard."