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Supporters of a bill passed by the Iowa Senate Tuesday said the legislation “modernizes” Iowa’s planning for public land use and maintenance, but some Democrats feared the measure would unintentionally limit new public land acquisitions.

Senate File 516 repeals the current programs in place for maintenance and acquisition of open space properties and recreational trails respectively. It would establish new requirements for the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation to submit long-term plans to Legislature on these properties, reviewing and changing the plan every five years as necessary.

The new plans would prioritize the maintenance and protection of properties currently managed by the state over new potential acquisitions. Sen. Annette Sweeney, R-Alden, said the measure is not meant to restrict future land acquisitions, but meant to make sure Iowa’s existing parks and trails are being taken care of.

“We want to make sure that when we drive through the countryside, we see our great open spaces — we don’t see multiflora roses, we don’t see musk thistles, we want to make sure that everything is in order,” Sweeney said. “Maintain, protect.”


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