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FOREST RESERVE - why repealing the law is devastating!


Staff member
I whipped this up as a start to writing in. Here’s some bullet points & data sources. I figured my jumbled mess of a brain should post it urgently so we can get to work. Take anything you want! SENATE is where it needs killed. Badly!!! Or Iowa’s forest will be killed badly!

Off the top of my head. Here’s some supporting links at bottom….
Forest Reserve Bullet points. The elimination of Forest Reserve CANNOT PASS the Senate!!!! We will lose far greater monetarily, for our citizens, environment & our kids than the small addition of tax revenue counties might get! One MAIN POINT is WHY IT WAS ENACTED!!…. Iowa’s forests were being dozed & removed at an alarming rate before Forest reserve was enacted. Erosion, loss of forest, water quality & environment were all heading off a cliff before Forest Reserve stabilized & increased the amount of forest acres left.

1) iowa is less than 8% timber & recent data has it trending towards 6% with our 2 recent commodity price spikes.
2) the hunting economy is a Billion dollar industry in iowa. Lack of access to quality land is #1 reason hunters are quitting. This will reduce forest acres in iowa & hunting opportunities. Continual reduction of hunting opportunities will mean less revenue in license sales & revenue to the Iowa DNR.
3) iowa is the most transformed state in the country. Our forests are fragile & cover the most vulnerable & erodible land
4) the forest reserve program was created to preserve the little timber Iowa has left.
5) iowas farmers have had a tax increase of 40-100% in the last 4 years. The county revenues have gone up dramatically. This tax increase would cripple many lower to middle class farmers & land owners.
6) our forests produce multiple million's of dollars per year of the finest timber in the world. The long term economic value of well managed timber is countless millions & millions in tax revenue to the state.
7) current forest reserve legislation prohibits an application for a reservation if more than 15% of the acres owned in the county by the applicant would qualify as a fruit tree or forest reservation.
8) Iowa’s water quality & erosion is an environmental crisis still needing assistance. Forested acres on our most vulnerable soils means better water quality & less erosion
9) our trees provide priceless benefits to citizens, wildlife, air & water. Iowa is lacking on outdoor activities due to such little forest.
10) forested acres are a majority of soils not to be sustainable or desired for farming.
11) 85% or forest reserve owners live within 25 miles of the land. 2.8% live out of state. This hurts residents & locals of the community that have had numerous tax increases in recent years.
12) this will fuel the sale of farms containing timber with those on a tight budget. It will encourage more out of state ownership where pockets run deeper.
13) this is a simple tax increase to those who have seen all their other costs go up substantially in the last 3 years. Commodities are down substantially at the same time. This will devastate our rural & low income counties the most.
14) counties have seen their revenues close to double or more, on average, the last 5 years.
15) the small amount of revenue % “gained” in the short term will be lost by far greater sums in economic & environmental value.

& my 2 cents on the side…. Every “good guy” is opposed to this!!! IBA, ISC, ICA, nature conservancy, Iowa environmental council, etc etc etc.
LOOK WHO IS FOR IT!!! Iowa farm bureau, iowa county supervisors, iowa CORN, SOYBEANS & CATTLE groups (3 different). Here’s what’s INSANE!!!! All of them will have their constituents TAXED HIGHER!!! All of em!!! At a time when their costs are high enough. Here’s a misconception…. Farm bureau and all the ag groups think the forests take away from production. Forests are on junk ground most the time. Do we really need to be this greedy???? Don’t we see enough farming right to the creeks? I farm- I get it. We are trending to 6% timber and who out there isn’t sick seeing forests dozed out & piles of trees burned as it is?!?! It’s BAD!! & they want it worse. For ground that shouldn’t be farmed!! More taxes, less timber & an environmental disaster - these groups could care less. If they can make 1 more dollar even if it costs everyone else 100 dollars- that’s the short sighted greed we see here. It literally makes zero sense!!!! Huge NET LOSER!!!!!

I emailed all senators and the ONLY responses I have received have been from democrats - all agreed with me and are opposed. R's have been missing the mark on a lot of things (not just conservation) this year in my opinion and it is very frustrating.

The most recent email was less than an hour ago from the senate minority leader and she said it has been referred to Ways and Means where it will be assigned to a subcommittee.
What about the inequity to land owners if county A abolishes the Forest Reserve Exemption, but county B chooses to keep it, what a mess.
Few quick thoughts as we all write in to defeat this!!!
We might “spend” $5-10 to conserve Iowas forests which improve water quality, erosion, wildlife, sequestration of carbon, ecstatics of our fragile state, etc. AT THE SAME TIME…. We pay folks $150-350/acre to put their land in CRP with native grasses or TREE PLANTINGS. For the exact same reasons we have Forest Reserve in place.
That slide show is incredibly illustrative!!! & I keep finding some nuggets in there. (Yes, it’s 2011 but the data is very similar to today)…

As we trend towards 6% timber left in this state…
-Forest reserve is 4/10th’s of 1% of county budget (that # is probably less since the property taxes have essentially doubled in the last several years).
-1954 to 1974 (forest reserve enacted to stop this trend) - Iowa’s forest was about cut in HALF!!!! Forest reserve assisted to completely reverse this.
-economies: $25-$30m in timber. Hundreds of millions in the hunting economy & DNR revenue - all directly related to how much of a resource exists. IN OTHER WORDS- to add, say, $5m to the whole states property taxes (a drop of sand on the beach) - any common logic will know this will cost us 10’s to 100’s of millions of dollars with the loss to these economies. This makes ZERO economic sense!!!!!

!!!!LAST!!!!!….. on the FLIP SIDE of this issue…. We have & will be discussing this with legislators & all of the lobbying groups (the small amount FOR this)….. my personal belief…. PART of what’s driving this is developers using the program to get out of taxes on developmental ground they plan to develop. I fully agree with the other side, that loop hole needs to be fixed. This is for SAVING THE FOREST, NOT: Finding a loophole to get out of taxes on ground u intend to destroy. This is easily remedied with a few solutions I have brought up to some legislators, EXAMPLES: 1) make the minimum acreage go from 2 acres to 10 acres. 2) if ground is developed within 10-15 years- have the tax savings paid back. 3) put a cap (high enough it only hits urban counties) on how much valuation can be enrolled …. This allows our counties with poorest residents & worst soil to not be impacted & not see a tax increase (again, they Just had their taxes doubled!!!!). On & on. Plenty of ideas to address this.
Republican legislators in Iowa are pretty much always on the wrong side of the debate on anything to do with conservation or hunting issues. They toe the line with Farm Bureau. Less deer, less trees, more farming, no more public lands, etc, etc, etc.

Conservation is the one thing Democrats get right IMO.
Be careful now Rob. They are very extreme when it comes to conservation. This is a very small sliver within the democrat conservation piece of pie that just so happens to be what we are in agreement on. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good. Emails sent!
I am not aware of any extreme stances the democrats have on conservation issues in Iowa. Examples?

Trust me, I generally despise the democratic party. I also think the republicans are terrible on conservation issues in Iowa. Both are true statements.
Republican legislators in Iowa are pretty much always on the wrong side of the debate on anything to do with conservation or hunting issues. They toe the line with Farm Bureau. Less deer, less trees, more farming, no more public lands, etc, etc, etc.

Conservation is the one thing Democrats get right IMO.
Public school education funding is another thing you want democrats leading. Policy, however, prevents Democrats from even sniffing the opportunity to do so in the foreseeable future.

The Republican model of asking public schools to do more with less has taken Iowa from #1 in the nation to middle of the pack. Schools haven't been adequately funded (4% annual increase) since the 2006-2010 legislatures.

Governor Robert Ray from 1969-1983 gave a lowest increase of 4.93% to Iowa public schools in 1973 and a peak of 13.59% in 1981. He led Iowa to #1 in the nation. Since his Republican leadership, the party has evolved multiple times. First, with Reaganomics (schools started getting 3% increases) and then the return of Branstad/Reynolds and numerous 0-2% increases (BEHIND inflation).

During the recent years of runaway inflation, the Republican legislature has given 2.5%, 3%, and 2.5% increases while inflation has been in the 5%-8% neighborhood for that same time frame. This is while sitting on a surplus of $2.1 billion of taxpayer monies collected that has grown annually. Its a very odd "flex" to provide a worsening education for our youth and then pat oneself on the back for saving money they have already taken from us.
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Orchards- tax the the same as farmland- if you are profiting from it, it should be taxable. No different than any other crop.

Forest reserve- provide a payment and then tax it like set aside if necessary but it should not be totally exempt. Or tax it similar to crop ground. The ground that doesn’t get farmed and doesn’t qualify as FR isn’t exempt.

Our whole tax system is a mess and too complicated. Just set a flat rate for each category. Ground= X%, buildings= X%, net income=-%. A shop that I keep my equipment in shouldn’t be taxed any different than the neighbors identical bdg that he keeps his tractor in. My 5 acres that I mow and keep up for the kids/grandkids to run and play or ride around on shouldn’t be taxed any different than someone’s who plants theirs.

Bottom line: they are going to try anything they can to get another $ from us. Just make it fair across the board for everyone.
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I still say- this is I’m sure a different topic- but if the state is looking for money they should be charging for state park passes/usage like every other state around us.
I’ve got 17 acres at my home place and 10 is in Forest Reserve. I’ve got some of the best farm ground in the state right next to my property line. If I’m going to pay taxes on it- then I guess rip it out and at least make money?! That’s going to be everyone’s thinking and it’s going to be devastating for the state of iowa. (I’m currently sitting in a meeting with a county engineer who is saying they want to rip EVERY tree out of any county ROW)
Not to mention hundreds of thousands of ash trees that are dying! That’s gonna have a huge impact on the landscape as it is.
So it's passed the house and now in the Senate. Does it have a different file # now? I can't find and would like to see update.
So it's passed the house and now in the Senate. Does it have a different file # now? I can't find and would like to see update.
Consider it fully passed and signed. It's just a matter of time once it has passed one chamber. And threat to the governor's agenda, like the AEA bill and they meet in rooms before the next view and say "get in line" and pass this or "be primaried out next time"
THIS TUESDAY, 8 am, subcommittee meeting at capital. If u or someone well spoken (this is easy) can make it- WE NEED YOU!!!!!!!!
Is anyone going to your knowledge?
We need help!!!!!!
People can zoom call in!!!!!
I’ll bottom line this issue….. folks show- I think we can save this. (Can’t win every time but feel like good shot we win). If we don’t show with some #’s…. We will lose. State & resource will lose.
Zoom call is doable for anyone!!!! “60 seconds” is what one person will need to spend on this. I can go over what to say.
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