On The Radio – Iowa Department of Natural Resources proposes turtle trapping restrictions

Under the proposed regulations, trappers would be limited to catching three painted turtles per day. (Chrysemys picta/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | August 15, 2016

This Monday’s On The Radio segment discusses new turtle trapping restrictions introduced by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources earlier this month.

Transcript: Iowa Department of Natural Resources proposes turtle trapping restrictions

Turtles will get new protections under newly proposed state trapping regulations.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Earlier this year, the Iowa legislature successfully passed a bill that required the Iowa DNR to set daily catch limits and seasons, citing that foreign demand for turtle meat and unlimited harvest has threatened local populations. The proposal follows a failed attempt to completely ban for-profit turtle trapping in the state in 2009.

Biologists note that turtles, unlike other animals, do not reproduce until much later in life, making adult turtles that are removed from the population especially difficult to replace. In 2014, trappers caught 17,504 turtles according to the Iowa DNR. The DNR’s proposed restrictions limit the number of turtles caught per day to 14 snapping turtles, one softshell turtle, and three painted turtles. A trapping season that begins July 1st and ends December 31st included in the document would protect turtles during their nesting season. The proposal also bans trapping within 100 yards of waterways between July 1st and July 15th in order to protect nesting softshell turtles.

The proposal must be approved by the governor before it is reviewed by the legislative rules committee.

For more information about the new turtle trapping regulations in Iowa, visit Iowa-Environmental-Focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.



Iowa Sierra Club aims to restore turtle populations

Painted turtles bask in the sun on this log near Pasadena, Maryland. ()
Painted turtles bask in the sun on a log near Pasadena, Maryland. (Matthew Beziat/Flickr)
Nick Fetty | July 5, 2016

Officials with Iowa’s Sierra Club  want the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to consider new limits on harvesting turtles as a way to restore populations in the Hawkeye State.

Current regulations allow Iowa anglers with a valid fishing license “to take and possess a maximum of 100 pounds of live turtles or 50 pounds of dressed turtles.” A special license is required to sell live or dressed turtles.

The Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club is calling for the Iowa DNR to close turtle season from January 1st to July 15th to allow the animals more time to nest and repopulate. The environmental advocacy group is also calling for catch limits on certain species including the common snapping turtle, spiny softshell turtle, smooth softshell turtle, and painted turtle.

In March, the Iowa Legislature approved a bill that reestablishes turtle harvesting season in Iowa and calls for a study of turtle populations in the state by 2021. House File 2357 was signed by Governor Terry Branstad on March 23.

Documentation of commercial turtle harvesting in Iowa dates back to 1987. A 2013 report by the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club points out that just under 30,000 pounds of turtles were harvested in 1987 compared to more than 200,000 pounds annually in recent years. The increase in annual turtle harvesting has been attributed to greater demand for turtle meat in Asian countries where turtle populations have dwindled, particularly China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Iowa legislators to consider solar incentives in 2016 session

The Iowa state capitol in Des Moines. (Ashton B Crew/Wikimedia Commons)
The Iowa state capitol in Des Moines. (Ashton B Crew/Wikimedia Commons)
Nick Fetty | January 12, 2016

Policymakers returned to the statehouse this week to kick off the legislative session for the 86th Iowa General Assembly and solar energy policy is one of the many issues likely to be addressed.

Legislators will decide whether to increase two popular solar project tax credits in 2016,  as reported by Midwest Energy News. The two credits – one for utilities and one for customers – gained bipartisan support in 2015 by expanding “the state’s renewable energy production tax credit” and “creating a 10 megawatt set-aside for solar investments only.” The production tax credit pays 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour to utilities generating or purchasing solar power.

Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, said that he expects the 10-megawatt allotment to increase as interest in solar energy in Iowa continues to grow.

While the legislators will handle the policy side, researchers from Iowa State University are busy studying the science behind solar energy.

Steve Martin, an engineering professor at ISU, is currently studying ways “to create safer, low-cost batteries that can store large amounts of wind and solar energy.” Specifically, Martin is trying to find a way to remove flammable organic liquids in lithium-ion and sodium batteries currently on the market. Martin and his team recently received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue their study.

In 2014 Iowa ranked 16th nationally for solar energy potential but was 31st for installed systems with just over 20 MW, according to data from Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association.

Bill aims to give excess solar energy to low income families

Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) is serving her 11th term in the Iowa House of Representatives. (Iowa House Democrats)
Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) is serving her 11th term in the Iowa House of Representatives. (Iowa House Democrats)

Nick Fetty | February 24, 2015

A bill introduced by Iowa State Representative Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) aims to give excess power generated by solar panels to those struggling to afford electricity.

House File 149 – which was introduced earlier this month – would require utility companies that regularly submit efficiency plans to add to their plans a “solar energy bank program” which would assist low-income families and individuals who fall behind on energy payments. This “solar energy bank” would be the excess energy generated by solar panels. Typically excess energy produced is sold back to the utility company. The bill would serve as an extension of the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“Our LIHEAP monies run out every year before the end of the winter season,” Mascher said in an interview with Midwest Energy News. “We have more need than money to go around. This is another way to generate more energy money – in terms of providing a safety net for those folks. For me, it’s a win-win because the energy company doesn’t have to turn off someone’s power. And the people who need it the most are able to continue to get the power they need.”

Mascher is currently serving her 11th term in the Iowa House of Representatives. The Iowa City native also serves on the Education, Local Government, State Government and Appropriations committees.

More natural resource funds in Iowa

Photo courtesy of the Iowa Farm Bureau; Flickr.
Photo courtesy of the Iowa Farm Bureau; Flickr.

The Iowa Legislature recently agreed to a record $25 million in funding for the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, or REAP, the Des Moines Register reported.

The program is used to enhance and protect Iowa’s natural and cultural resources. There are a number of individual programs within REAP, such as the Environment First Fund or the Restore Iowa Infrastructure Fund.

REAP provides money for projects using state agency budgets or grants. Private contributions may also be made to help REAP accomplish its goals.

Environmental Group Concerned Over Legislation

Photo by Born1945; Flickr

An environmental advocacy group criticized legislation advancing in the Iowa House that would make water-quality data collected in connection with a statewide clean water effort confidential.

To learn more about the bill and its language, head over to the Omaha Herald

Bill boosting solar energy development gets OK from Iowa Senate panel

Solar Panels at Regions Bank in Waterloo, Iowa.  Photo courtesy of Paul McClure; Flickr.
Solar Panels at Regions Bank in Waterloo, Iowa.
Photo courtesy of Paul McClure; Flickr.

Under this bill, Iowa’s investor-owned electrical utilities would be required to provide their customers with 105 megawatts of solar energy.

The bill is aimed at bolstering Iowa’s solar energy industry, the Des Moines Register reported. 

Tim Dwight, the president of the Iowa Solar/Small Wind Energy Trade Association, said the cost of solar energy is dropping on a monthly basis and is becoming a mainstream method of generating electricity.

Head to the Register to find out more.