According to the Iowa Natural heritage Foundation (INHF), many Iowans will never realize how much they owe to the Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program for making our state a better place to live.
REAP is funded by the Environment First Fund, which receives revenues from gaming receipts and the sale of natural resource license plates. With additional income from license plates and interest, REAP's 2008 budget totaled nearly $19 million - up from $15.5 million last year.
The budget increase is attributed to the dedicated public education by REAP Alliance members, leadership from Governor Chet Culver, and strong bipartisan support by legislators who appreciate the program's value.
INHF has played an important leadership role in the REAP Alliance, a coalition of 37 organizations. Officials from the INHF and the Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards coordinate the Alliance.
Working in partnership with city, county, or private organizations, the INHF was involved with 11 REAP requests submitted in this year's competitive grants category. When the grants were ranked and scored in September, eight INHF projects were funded. In addition to protecting natural resources, these projects also preserve cultural resources and promote local tourism.
All in all, REAP dollars support eight diverse programs - state spaces (28%), county conservation (20%), soil and water enhancement (20%), city parks and open spaces (15%), state public land management (9%), historical and restoration (4%), roadside vegetation (3%), and DNR administration (1%).
We applaud all those involved and encourage others to embrace and support the INHF and REAP efforts in impacting our state in such a beneficial and positive way.