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What is REAP?

What Is REAP? 

The REAP program invests in the enhancement and protection of the state’s diverse natural and cultural resources. Depending on the individual programs, REAP provides funding for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. REAP funding encourages private, local and federal contributions and is often able to leverage state dollars by two to three times the original investment. 

The impact of REAP goes way beyond the outdoor recreation, parks and environmental education that it supports to benefits that effect Iowan’s everyday life, including: 

  • Better water quality and safe drinking water supplies 
  • Agricultural soil conservation and productivity 
  • Revitalization of rural communities and economic development 


How is REAP funded? 

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 actual amount of REAP funding every year. REAP has never been fully funded, despite efforts to do so by the legislature. 

REAP funds go into eight different programs based on percentages that are specified in the law and are administered through four state agencies. These are the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Transportation. 

The first $350,000 of REAP is allocated to Conservation Education. The remaining balance is then divided up according to the allocation “formula” shown in the following pie chart.

How is REAP money used?

The Open Spaces account is used to protect and develop Iowa’s public lands and waters. Up to ½ of the amount allocated to this portion of the pie may be used to strategically purchase land from willing sellers at market rates. The DNR pays property taxes on public land purchased with REAP. 1/20th of this piece of the pie is also available to protect designated rivers to maintain their scenic and natural qualities.

The County Conservation account is available to counties for capital improvements, stabilization and protection of resources, repair and upgrading of facilities, environmental education, land easements or acquisition. Thirty percent of the funds are automatically allocated in equal amounts to all 99 counties. Another 30% is allocated based on population and commitment to conservation.

The Soil & Water Enhancement account is used to support water quality improvement and protection efforts of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD). The funding is divided equally between Practices and Projects. The Practices funds are distributed equally to all 100 SWCDs to provide financial incentives to implement agricultural and urban water quality improvements. Projects funds are distributed to SWCDs through a competitive grant process to address water quality concerns identified through a cooperative effort with local partners and/or watershed groups.

The City Parks and Open Space account is a competitive grant program for cities to establish natural areas, encourage outdoor recreation and resource management. There are three size categories, to ensure cities of all sizes have access to these funds.

The State Land Management account is used for the development and management of state conservation land, habitat and facilities. Project examples include trail renovations, shower and restroom replacement, repairs to lodges, shelters and cabins.

The Historical Resources account is available through grants from the Department of Cultural Affairs. These grants support a wide variety of projects that include historic preservation, library and archives, and museums.

The Roadside Vegetation account provides some of the support for the Living Roadway Trust Fund, to activities including the preservation, establishment and maintenance of native vegetation along Iowa’s roadsides.