RALLYING FOR REAP IN 2016!
REAP stands for Resource Enhancement and Protection
. It is a program in the State of Iowa that invests in, as its name implies, the enhancement and protection of the state's natural and cultural resources. Iowa is blessed with a diverse array of natural and cultural resources, and REAP is likewise diverse and far reaching. Depending on the individual programs, REAP provides money for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. Several aspects of REAP also encourage private contributions that help accomplish program objectives.
REAP is funded from the state's Environment First Fund (Iowa gaming receipts) and from the sale of the natural resource license plate. The program is authorized to receive $20 million per year until 2021, but the state legislature sets the amount of REAP funding every year. For FY 2014 REAP was appropriated $16 million. When you add license plate and interest income, its total budget is about $16.45 million.
REAP funds go into eight different programs based upon a percentages that are specified in the law. These percentages, or what many people call the REAP formula, provide that 20% of the appropriation goes to Iowa's county conservation boards.
REAP also contains very extensive public participation procedures. Individual county REAP committees are organized throughout the state. Public and private organizations that are interested in any of the REAP elements can participate on county committees. The primary purposes of these committees are to coordinate REAP projects among the various entities and develop a county REAP plan to help direct future REAP projects. The level of activeness varies among counties in the state. Some are very active, while others may only meet once a year. Most counties have REAP committees, but there are a few counties that currently do not have one.
The next level of public participation is regional REAP Assemblies.
These are open public meetings where all REAP programs and associated projects are presented. Also, opportunities for regional REAP projects are identified at these meetings and participants may recommend changes to REAP policies, programs, and funding. A round of 18 assemblies is held once every two years during the months of October and November. The area of interest for each assembly coincides with the state's Council of Governments or Regional Planning boundaries.
The next and final level is the REAP Congress. Five delegates are elected at each of the 18 assemblies to serve on the statewide Congress, which makes for a membership of 85 people. The REAP Congress meets on even-numbered calendar years. The responsibilities of the congress are to organize, discuss, and make recommendations to the Governor, state legislature, and state agencies. The Congress uses the suggestions made at the 18 assemblies to help form its recommendations.