Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Rainforest in Iowa

So, in case you were wondering, you can now travel to my old stomping grounds of Pella, Iowa to see a rainforest, aquarium, and the like.

Pella is a city whose sole source of revenue is one yearly 3-day event that in the advent of bad weather or a warm or cold spring can be completely devastated (and often is). An ethnic festival based on a type of flower has that kind of risk associated with it.

However - have no fear! Pella wants to have a rainforest next door - and wants it so much that they pledged $25 million to host the project.

Beyond the obvious question of why someone would pay hundreds of millions of dollars to have a rainforest in Iowa is the question - who is going to pay for it, and how much money will it bring in to the state? Estimates show that even though it is prohibitively expensive to build a rainforest in Iowa, it should make quite a bit of money on the way.

A few years ago Iowa State University built a large butterfly enclosure for their garden center. The uproar at the time was from Iowa farmers, who were concerned about non-native species possible being released into Iowa's agriculturally-dependent and fragile environment. Will those same detractors speak out now?

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