Iowa BHA hit the ground running since becoming an official chapter in December 2018. The Iowa Deer Classic, in early March, marked BHA’s grand entrance upon Iowa’s conservation stage. The Classic provided our board members an opportunity to discuss the issues facing Iowa’s public lands and wildlife with a broader audience and the reception was outstanding. With the support of Land Tawney, the Iowa Chapter’s weekend of public lands, pints, conservation and a whole lot of handshakes resulted in a BHA record 226 new members. Iowa BHA members will share the keys to this success at a “sports show” chapter leadership seminar at the Rendezvous in Boise, where members of our chapter will collaborate with other state leaders to gain valuable knowledge and insight that will bolster our efforts in Iowa.
A compounding factor in BHA’s success at the Classic was the introduction of legislation that would have crippled the ability of the state to acquire more public land, Iowa House File 542. To expand our capacity to win legislative battles in Des Moines, Iowa BHA has joined the Iowa Conservation Alliance. This partnership with fellow organizations such as Pheasants Forever, Trout Unlimited, the Iowa Bowhunters Association and others expands our capacity to tackle issues, extend our voice to the legislative chambers, and builds the foundation for outdoor collaboration in Iowa.
Iowa BHA has continued to strengthen our board by welcoming our first female board member this spring: Rachel Vanderweff. Rachel’s circuitous path to the outdoor lifestyle offers our board a new set of perspectives and allows us to expand our membership capacity. Rachel is the founder of Edible Outdoors, an organization which encourages “field-to-table” mindset, by hosting fishing, hunting and foraging workshops geared toward new outdoorsmen, but provides opportunities and experiences to outdoors enthusiasts of all levels. BHA is excited to help with several events, such as an upcoming “wild game and wine pairing” event, which showcase opportunities available for food acquisition on public lands.
As successful as these first few months have been, they have not been without frustrations. Iowa BHA joined the fight to successfully defeat legislation, H.F. 542, that would have severely limited public lands acquisitions in Iowa. Unfortunately, a piece of more narrowly tailored legislation, S.F. 548, passed both houses of the Iowa General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Iowa BHA continues to closely monitor legislative issues affecting public lands and conservation in our state.
Additionally, the Board is working hard laying the foundation for a number of projects that will increase BHA’s visibility and help get our rank-and-file members more involved. These include more pint nights, coordinating with the DNR on multiple “R3” and “Learn to Hunt” events, training instructors to teach hunter education, rifle, shotgun and pistol courses, and establishing a committee structure that will allow input and influence from our non-board membership. Be on the lookout for more information and be sure to follow our Facebook page for updates!