Tuesday, January 02, 2007

From bad to worse?

After having spent a few days away from the computer at my inlaws, I am surprised to come home and find that Governor Chet has appointed Rich Leopold as the head of the Department of Natural Resources, opting not to re-up Jeff Vonk.

I got into a debate with Leopold earlier this year about Conservation Reserve Program at the Iowa Farmers Union annual convention. In fact, our debate/discussion spilled out into the hallway, where Iowa Farmer Today editor Gene Lucht tried to intervene (or at least get us to slow down long enough to get some quick quotes).

I believe CRP should be scaled back, only to be used to preserve the most environmentally sensitive land. It should no longer be used to keep land suitable to crops/hay/pasture off the market, and the taxpayer shouldn't have to foot the bill. As I've written before, our southern counties have a lot of ground in CRP, and Uncle Sam is the biggest land hog around. It is hard for beginning farmers to get started when some of the available land is tied up by the government.

Leopold couldn't understand this concept. He believed that land in CRP should stay in CRP indefinitely, and that the environmental benefits outweighed the opportunity to generate REAL income from these lands. He could not see that CRP was hindering real economic development in our area, even if that development was environmentally friendly. It was obvious to me that this guy hadn't been to the field for a LONG time. His view on CRP was about as close to the real world as his view from his Iowa Environmental Council office...the parking lot at the west side of the Capitol.

Leopold, having been the director of the Iowa Environmental Council, made him the representative of a wide array of enivonmental interests, ranging from the Iowa Farm Bureau to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI). It even includes my organization, the Iowa Farmers Union.

I have no idea what Leopold's view is on deer, but if it is as limited as his view on CRP, I'm afraid we'll have more deer, less guided/leased hunting, and more restrictions to derive real economic and environmental development here in the South of Iowa. I'm glad he's for sustainable energy, such as wind, but I don't know how much his department has to contribute to (or regulate) the matter.

Overall, I am very wary of Rich Leopold taking over the DNR. This might be the an early indication of how Boy Governor's administration will operate.

Props to State 29 for bringing this up.


Anonymous rf said...

Maybe Culver wanted to give Craig Lang & co. the finger for bitching and moaning about Vonk, a mellow and moderate career bureaucrat.

9:04 PM, January 03, 2007  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Good point, RF. Personally I thought Vonk as a nice guy; poor manager of the deer population, of course, and a little too power hungry at the end, but I'm just not too certain about Leopold.

6:38 AM, January 04, 2007  
Blogger Mango said...

Is he related to the famous Aldo Leopold?

3:01 PM, January 04, 2007  
Blogger bgunzy said...

I'm not sure, but it would be quite a connection.

Of course, a company named Leopold makes high end hunting rifle scopes, too.

7:33 PM, January 04, 2007  
Blogger Chris Woods said...

He isn't related to him. Odd coincidence though. I hope he does a lot of good and can be a less polarizing figure than Vonk ended up being.

10:49 PM, January 04, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The higher end optics maker is L-EU-pold. Pronounded lew-polled. The natualist and new DNR guy are Leopold which are pronounced in the same old nraml way lee-oh-polled.

Alas I fear my explanation is as clear as mud. lol

2:22 AM, January 06, 2007  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Good catch, Anonymous.

I'd love to have a Barrett M82A1 50 cal semi auto with a LEUPOLD scope on it.

10:31 PM, January 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had the opportunity to shoot a big Barrett. Amazing rifle. I was shooting at a 500 yard shooting range and with the performance of the 50 BMG and the optics on the rifle it was dream to shoot and at 500 yards it was frankly fairly easy to hit with even for me. The owner of the rifle and guy who operated one for a living *ahem* made my shooting look pretty pedestrian so I can see how they get 2000+ meter hit with it. Just an amazing weapon. Sure doesn't recoil like you would think it would either.

12:52 AM, January 07, 2007  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Awesome! There's a lot of money involved in one of those guns, including the cartridges!

7:49 AM, January 09, 2007  

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