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Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) assemblies will begin next week, giving all Iowans an opportunity to share and discuss their visions for Iowa’s outdoor recreation, soil and water enhancement, historical resources and land management, and more.

The Regional 8 REAP meeting — which includes Jackson, Clinton, Dubuque, Delaware and Cedar counties — will be Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Hurstville Interpretive Center, 18670 63rd St., Maquoketa.

Everyone living within Region 8 is encouraged to participate. More than 600 attended statewide REAP assemblies in 2019, including about 65 people at the Region 8 meeting.

REAP assemblies are locally led meetings where issues can be brought forth and voted upon. Iowans can discuss the program, recommend changes, and discuss impacts in their area. Delegates also may be selected from the local meeting to attend the REAP congress in January at the State Capitol in Des Moines.

Each assembly represents a region of counties and participants are required to attend the region for the county in which they reside. Meetings are held in the evening and last about 90 minutes.

“REAP assemblies provide Iowans a perfect opportunity to share their views and learn others’ views about parks, trails, museums and other amenities,” said Kayla Lyon, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “It’s critical that community members are engaged in these meetings to help shape the future of and enhance recreational opportunities in our state for the future.”

Each year, REAP provides funding for local projects through a grant process and each year, the requests for city and county grants exceed the amount available by two or three times. Since the program debuted in 1989, more than $365 million has been awarded to more than 15,500 projects.

“REAP benefits every single county, every year, in one way or another, either through improved water quality, by preserving our historical assets or providing outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Michelle Wilson, coordinator for REAP with the Iowa DNR. “REAP significantly impacts the quality of life of all Iowans.”

To date, Jackson County has received REAP allocations topping $5.7 million for 198 projects. Local projects include various recreation trails, land acquisition, and renovation, repair and restoration work.

Clinton County received more than $1.42 million to fund 154 conservation projects, including work at the Clinton Sawmill Museum, county parks, planting native species of plants, forestry projects, etc.