A letter was sent to the Hamilton County Conservation Board from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation about a vote that will be on November ballots, Conservation Director Brian Lammers said at the conservation meeting on Tuesday.
"Up to 3/8 of a penny of future sales tax increases may go to conservation programs across the state," Lammers said.
It is estimated that this tax could generate up to $150 million a year.
Lammers said that three other states have already amended their constitution to put this increase in place: Arkansas, Minnesota and Missouri. The foundation asked in the letter for money towards advertising for the amendment.
"I feel that Hamilton County should contribute some financial dollars," he said.
The board voted to send up to $1,000, pending the conservation's financial situation in June.
Lammers also announced that Hamilton and Webster Counties, Fort Dodge and Webster City have joined in an effort to come an Iowa Great Place.
According to the Iowa Great Places Web site, parts of Iowa deemed 'Places' have: technical assistance from all relevant State agencies for project implementation; additional consideration for grant applications from all State agencies for projects specifically included in a Place's Great Place proposal; dedicated State historic tax credits; greater publicity; and Iowa Great Places grant funds (pending legislative approval for each fiscal year).
"We want to focus on the Boone and Des Moines rivers and what they do for our areas," Lammers said.
According to their vision statement, "The scenic Des Moines and Boone River Valleys have shaped the history and culture of the communities in North Central Iowa. Our Great Places Vision is about the celebration of the river valleys, the important role they played in shaping our communities, and the significant influence they will have on the future of our region."
The four entities will focus on the proposed outdoor education center for Webster City and a smaller education center set up to be built at Brushy Creek.
"I think this is a really great collaboration of four entities," he said. "It has been pretty impressive working together on this."
Lammers also talked about a USDA grant that the board had applied for in order to fund a feasability study for the proposed outdoor learning center.
"We did not receive the grant, but I found out that we rank third nationally to get a feasability study," he said. "We should find out in June if we get the full $20,000 for funding the study."
The board also toured shelter one at Briggs Woods Park for renovations that may take place later to the facility.
"We were roofing the shelter, and as I was pulling nails I was thinking about how it was not as rented as much as the other shelters," Lammers said. "I have been thinking about converting the shelter into a year-long open cabin."
Lammers said that the facility already has surrounding infrastructure, is wired for electricity and is in a good location with a view of the river.
"I'd like to get going on this project," Chairperson George Caggiano said. "I don't want this to drag out as I think there is potential winter revenue for this facility. Especially for snowmobilers and cross county skiers."
Lammers agreed that it could be a potential revenue source for the parks.
The board also set canoe and kayak rates for the summer. Last year, 7 Oaks was contracted to operate the program.
"They did a good job, but unfortunately could not continue the service due to insurance reasons," Lammers said.
Carol and Darrell Burtnett, of Webster City, would take over the operation as conservation employees.
The rates for a 3 to 5 hour float would be $42 per canoe for two people and $27 per kayak; for a 6 to 8 hour float it would be $48 per canoe for two people and $30 per kayak. A shuttle service would be provided. Walk-in floats for 1 to 3 hours would be $15 per canoe for two people with no shuttle service. The equipment can only be rented with a credit card, in case of damage or the loss of equipment. If canoes or kayaks are abandoned or lodged, the user will be charged $50.
Contact Carrie Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832-4350.