Should state wildlife agencies be in the farming and ranching business on the public lands they manage for wildlife? No according to an Iowa man who is pushing to eliminate farm and grazing leases on state wildlife areas.

From this story in the Chicago Tribune:

A northeast Iowa man says the Iowa Department of Natural Resources needs to curtail or eliminate leasing public land it manages to farmers, arguing the abuses and violations are bad for the land and wildlife. The agency contends the program is for better natural resources and management. Timothy Mason, 61, of McGregor, lives near Sny Magill Creek, one of the best trout streams in Iowa. It flows through 1,600 acres of public land, which is among 363,000 acres of fish and wildlife areas managed by the state.

Mason told The Gazette he has seen far too many abuses on the land. “The bottom line is does the Iowa Department of Natural Resources really have to be in the farming industry?” said Mason, who spent the summer documenting and cleaning up damage around the creek. “The DNR shouldn’t be subsidizing this massive destruction of natural resources in Iowa,” he said, adding that Iowa has plenty of corn, soybeans and hay. “There is no need for this other than money, and I don’t think that is the mission of the DNR,” he said. Terry Haindfield, DNR wildlife biologist, said it’s not about the money, although the leases do generate revenue. “The primary reason we do this is for better natural resources and management,” he said. “Wildlife is the main objective, rather than money. We would be doing it a whole lot different if we were doing it for money.”

It’s an interesting question. Many state agencies lease out the farming and grazing rights on public hunting lands. Does your state wildlife agency? What do you think of the practice?