Natural Resources Committee Report – week 9, 2017

SF 258 – Restrictions for hunting on private property in Canada goose closed zones
SF 460 – Turtle harvesting seasons and limits
SF 472 – Operation of snowmobiles on public land
SF 482 – Water quality funding for watershed improvement and infrastructure



SF 258 restricts the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) from prohibiting hunting of Canada geese on private land within closed hunting zones. The closed hunting zones are established by the NRC at the recommendation of wildlife biologists to effectively sustain and manage populations in Iowa. The zones are adjusted over time to provide refuge areas for geese. The closed zones include private property in proximity to established wildlife refuge areas.
[3/6: 44-5 (Dvorsky, Hogg, Jochum, Lykam, Quirmbach “no”; C. Johnson absent)]



SF 460 establishes seasons for the commercial and noncommercial harvest of turtles, and limits the number of turtles that can be taken or possessed. The season would extend from July 15 to May 15, providing a two-month closed season to allow for the safe nesting of turtles. The daily limit for commercial harvesters would be 10 snapping turtles, 10 softshell turtles and five painted turtles. For noncommercial harvesters, the daily limits would be four snapping turtles, one softshell turtle and one painted turtle. Possession limits for commercial harvesters would be three times the individual daily limits.

The bill rescinds rules that have been under development since 2016 legislation directed the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to establish seasons and harvest restrictions. The rules differ from the bill in that they have lower daily harvest and possession limits. The rules also prohibit culling (when the harvester catches and releases turtles to find the largest specimen). The rules have gone through a stakeholder involvement process under Executive Order 71 and the public comment process under administrative rules. The rules have been adopted and approved by the NRC for filing in the Iowa Administrative Code and are scheduled to become effective on March 22.
[3/2: 9-4 (Dvorsky, Hart, Kinney, Lykam “no”)]


SF 472 makes changes to the operation of snowmobiles on highways and roadways. Under current law, the portion of highways and roadways between a fence line and the traveled portion of the road are considered public right of way and can be used by snowmobiles. On some secondary roads, the property line extends to the center of the road, meaning the area between the fence line and the traveled portion of the road is not a public right of way. The bill clarifies that snowmobiles are allowed to operate on all areas between a fence line and the traveled portion of the road.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) must transfer at least 70 percent of the fees collected in the snowmobile trust fund to local groups to assist in their activities and trail development. Currently, DNR is required to send at least 50 percent of the fees to local groups. The bill also allows DNR to donate trail grooming equipment to local organizations after the equipment has reached the end of its useful life for the department.
[3/2: short form]


SF 482 would divert the sales tax on drinking water to a special fund for water quality infrastructure efforts. The sales tax diversion would be phased in over six years, eventually providing $24 million a year to the fund. The proposal repeals the sales tax and funding after 2029. The bill also increases spending on water quality structures and watershed improvement practices from the Infrastructure fund to $22 million a year until 2029. This legislation is essentially what was proposed by House Republicans last session.
[2/14: 12-1 (Johnson “no”)]