Cook Co.-- Dropseed Prairie 11
Cook Co.-- Paintbrush Prairie . 12
Cook Co.-- Sundrop Prairie 13
Lake Co.-- Addition to Skokie River Nature Preserve 14
Morgan Co.-- Addition to Meredosia Hill Prairie Nature Preserve 15
Whiteside Co.-- Lyndon Prairie 16
Cook Co.-- Chicago Ridge Prairie Nature Preserve 17
McHenry Co.-- Bates Fen Nature Preserve 18
Will Co.-- Messenger Woods Nature Preserve 19
Adoption of Agenda 2
Approval of Minutes of 144th Meeting 3
Next Meeting Schedule 4
Staff Report 5
IDOC Staff Report 6
Public Comment Period 7
Recognition of Outstanding Service 8
Water Law in Illinois 9
Redefining the Function of the Technical Advisory
Committee on Management 10
Other Business 20
145-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:05 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chairman Farwell, the meeting began.
Members present: Gerald Adelmann, Thomas Donnelley, Francis Farwell, Wendy Paulson, Don Pierce, John Schmitt, Valerie Spale, and Judith Spasovich.
Members absent: Anthony Dvorak.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Brian Anderson, Steve Byers, Judith Faulkner, Carolyn Grosboll, Susie Hager, Randy Heidorn, Tammie McKay, and Mary Kay Solecki, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Jim Herkert, Endangered Species Protection Board; Carl Becker, Nelson Cheung, Maggie Cole, Fran Harty, and Don McFall, Division of Natural Heritage, Illinois Department of Conservation (IDOC); Brian Reilly, Natural Land Institute; George Rose, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Ken Fiske, Consultant to INPC; June Keibler, Volunteer; Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society; Wayne Schennum and Steve Weller, McHenry County Conservation District; John Bouseman, Illinois Natural History Survey; Suzanne Smith, Consultant; Beth Zales, Old Plank Road Trail Association; Ernie Nance, Oak Lawn Park District; Larry Stritch, U.S. Forest Service; Gordon Goodman, Friends of Lyman Woods; George Johnson, Illinois Native Plant Society; Patricia J. Brownlow, John Sarpalius, and Eric Schiani, Indian Boundary Prairies; Michael Kirk, DeKalb County Environmental Protection Society; Ron Panzer and Don Stillwaugh, Northeastern Illinois University; David Harrison, Whiteside County SWCD/Natural Area Guardians; and David Monk, Educational Resources in Environmental Science.
145-2) Adoption of Agenda
It was moved by Donnelley, seconded by Schmitt, and carried that the Agenda for the 145th Meeting be adopted.
145-3) Approval of Minutes of 144th Meeting, August 2, 1994
It was moved by Paulson, seconded by Schmitt, and carried that the minutes of the 144th Meeting be approved.
145-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Chairman Farwell reported that the 1995 meeting schedule, with all meetings beginning at 10:00 a.m., is as follows:
Meeting Date Location
146 February 7, 1995
Illinois State Museum
Spring & Edwards Streets
147 May 2, 1995
Starved Rock State Park
148 August 1, 1995
Glenview Park District
1421 Milwaukee Avenue
149 October 31, 1995
Pere Marquette State Park
145-5) NPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll reported on several events that Commission staff have been involved in since the last meeting. Commission staff attended the Natural Heritage Division meeting September 13-15, 1994 at Allerton Park near Monticello, Illinois. Goals and objectives of the Division were discussed.
The second Conservation Congress was held in Springfield September 30 through October 2, 1994. Commissioners Adelmann, Schmitt, and Spale participated and several staff attended.
Carolyn reported that the conservation easement legislation, which was proposed by Openlands Project and signed by the Governor on September 16, 1994, will take effect on January 1, 1995. The law provides that properties encumbered by a perpetual conservation easement or registered in perpetuity under the Register of Land and Water Reserves shall be assessed at a reduced rate. If the property is outside of Cook County, it will be assessed at 8-1/3% of its fair market value, rather than 33-1/3% of its fair market value. If the property is within Cook County, the assessment will be 25% of the current assessment. The reduction is basically the same in all counties, but because Cook County assesses its property differently than other counties, the language is different.
Persons wanting the property tax reduction need to file a one-time application with their chief county assessment officer by January 31 of the first year the applicant wants the reduction. If the property is encumbered by a conservation easement, the application must be accompanied by a certification by the Department of Conservation that the property yields a public benefit, which is defined in the law. Once the application is approved by the county assessor, the reduced rate remains in effect until the property is no longer registered or encumbered by a conservation easement. This law will provide an important incentive for property owners to put easements on their land or to register their property.
Carolyn also reported that Congress failed to pass a bill which would have created a 19,000-acre national grassland and conservation area at the Joliet Army Arsenal property. The bill passed the House unanimously, but failed to pass the Senate. The bill never made it out of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs because Senator John Glenn, who chairs the Committee, objected to the process by which the land was being transferred, especially the 425 acres being transferred to Will County for a landfill. Senator Glenn wanted the land to go through the process that formally gives federal agencies first chance. There is hope that the package will be considered by the Senate when Congress convenes at the end of November to consider the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). If the package isn't considered in November, the efforts will have to start all over next year. Several national environmental groups have been lobbying Senator Glenn for the transfer of the Arsenal property. These groups include the National Wildlife Federation, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the National Audubon Society, the Izaak Walton League of America, and the Conservation Fund.
In early July, the Commission received a Notice of Surplus Determination from the Department of the Army regarding the disposal of property at Fort Sheridan. The Army was asking for notice of any public agency's interest in the property. Commission staff responded to the Notice stating that the Commission was interested in the preservation and protection through dedication of approximately 100 acres at Fort Sheridan as nature preserve, specifically the ravines and bluff communities. These areas received preliminary approval for dedication in February of 1991. A letter from the Commission stated that dedication was consistent with the Army's environmental impact statement released in October 1990. The letter also acknowledged that dedication is a less than fee interest, but that the Lake County Forest Preserve District had prepared a park and recreation use plan which included dedication of the ravines and bluff communities. Therefore, the letter urged the Department of Army to convey fee title of the ravines and bluff communities as well as other requested properties to the Lake County Forest Preserve District. The Forest Preserve District has submitted paperwork to the National Park Service for a public benefit discount transfer of 290 acres at the northern end of the Fort. The Army responded to the Commission stating that they will be working with the Forest Preserve District and the National Park Service on the transfer. However, the letter stated that the Department of Housing and Urban Development had determined the property suitable for possible use to assist homeless providers who have expressed an interest in the property. Therefore, final disposition on the property will be made after fulfilling the McKinney Act requirements which may be expedited with the recent passage of a bill by Congress which gives local communities some flexibility on the homeless issue. Carolyn has been told that the Fort Sheridan Joint Planning Commission is studying this new law to discover its ramifications. Commission staff will give updates as new information is gathered.
Carolyn was pleased to report that the Department's General Counsel has approved the form of the Registration Agreement drafted by Commission staff last summer. Therefore, the Commission may begin registering properties as early as the next Commission meeting. Registration agreements only need to come before the Commission once for approval; however, there is more work up front with these agreements. The management program, which is very similar to the nature preserve's master plan, and all registration justification documents must accompany the registration agreement at the time of Commission approval. Once approved by the Commission, the agreement must be signed by the Director of IDOC and recorded.
As part of an update on the tollroads proposed for Northeastern Illinois, Carolyn reported that a Draft EIS has been released for the proposed connection of I-355 to I-80. Public meetings on the proposal are scheduled for November 10th in New Lenox, Illinois and on November 16th in Lemont, Illinois. On October 27th, IDOT and the Tollway Authority are holding a "dry run" meeting for concerned agencies which Commission staff are planning to attend. Final comments on the EIS are due December 1; however, at this point, staff doubts that any major changes will be made as a result of comments.
Randy Heidorn, Stewardship Coordinator, reported that field testing of the automated management schedule software program has begun and initial reviews have been very positive.
Randy reported that currently there are 75 master plans existing for nature preserves. IDOC is moving forward to complete or update master plans as part of the FY'95 work plan. Randy has had successful discussions with the Lake County Forest Preserve District and the Cook County Forest Preserve District about getting master plans developed for the nature preserves in their ownership.
Recently, Randy met with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to redefine the process for herbicide licensing of volunteers. Volunteers at public sites will now use the address of the public landowner on their applications. This will allow direct mailing to the owner/volunteer coordinator. For small agencies or private sites, the appropriate TNC office will be the address. INPC will continue to provide indemnification through the State of Illinois and the State Employee's Indemnification Act, but in the future will have a reduced role in getting the renewals and applications out.
Randy attended the Central Illinois Prairie Conference in Decatur and gave a presentation on management planning. Randy also attended the North American Savanna and Barrens Conference in Bloomington. Steve Byers and Mary Kay Solecki were active on the Steering Committee for the Savanna and Barrens Conference and were moderators. Randy presented a paper on the importance of savanna classification for management planning at Mary Kay's session.
Randy also attended the 21st Natural Areas Conference in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida as an invited speaker. He gave a talk on strategies to control purple loosestrife in natural areas.
Randy worked with the Central Illinois Field Office of The Nature Conservancy, IDOC and other agencies in northeastern Illinois to hold two smoke management workshops for prescribe burn managers. The first meeting was held in Joliet and had 46 attendees. The second meeting was held at the Mason Tree Nursery and had 36 attendees.
John Alesandrini, Northern Illinois Field Representative, reported on various conferences and meetings that he has attended in the last quarter including: IDOC's Natural Heritage display at the State Fair; the North American Savannas and Barrens Conference in Bloomington, Illinois; and a regional meeting with Openlands Project regarding the protection of the Kishwaukee River.
John reviewed storm damage at Laona Heights Nature Preserve in Winnebago County. John also worked with the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District and the County Highway Department regarding preserving Perryville Road Prairie.
Judy Faulkner, Southern Illinois Field Representative, and her intern Sharon Cline have been working with Bill Gonterman of St. Louis to dedicate an Illinois Natural Area Inventory (INAI) site that he owns near Prairie Du Rocher. The INAI site, known as Renault Herpetological Area contains a grade A hill prairie south of Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve. Judy plans to bring this before the Commission at a future meeting.
Judy is working with the family of the late Dora Bohm, who dedicated the William and Emma Bohm Memorial Nature Preserve (the first privately owned nature preserve to be dedicated in the State of Illinois) to dedicate an addition to the preserve.
Judy continues to spend 60-70% of her time on the Shawnee National Forest equestrian issue. From June through the end of September, Congressman Poshard requested that the Commission and IDOC assist the Forest Service in sponsoring field trips to ten natural areas to resolve problems with equestrian trails through natural areas. The agency people also spent one day a week to preview the areas, check boundaries, and relocate rare features to show the equestrian users. The field trips were generally congenial and the equestrians appeared to be prepared to work cooperatively and to understand the issues. However, concurrent with the field tips, the equestrian users published numerous newsletters, position statements, etc., which indicated a lack of understanding of the issue and personally attacked those who assisted with the trips. Judy will continue to work towards official closure of the illegal horse trails through natural areas in the Shawnee. They have even published totally false information which said the entire problem was the fault of Brian Anderson, who they claim received and destroyed trail maps the equestrian users provided to the forest service to be included in the Forest Plan. Since Brian supposedly destroyed the map, they were never included in the Forest Plan. Later, they published that it was really Dave Cooper who destroyed the maps. Of course, neither person ever saw these maps. A discussion of the more preposterous public allegations made by equestrian interests ensued.
Steven Byers, Northeastern Illinois Field Representative, reported that during the last quarter he participated in a Chicago Wilderness land management team field trip to discuss restoration and management of oak savannas in DuPage County.
Steve also participated in discussions with Mitch Isoe, Chief of the Regulatory Branch of the Chicago District Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mitch is interested at looking at ways wetland violation dollars can be used to acquire and restore surviving wetlands in the Chicagoland region. Recently, the McHenry County Conservation District has cooperated with the Corps to acquire wetlands along Nippersink Creek in McHenry County, and the IDOC has also cooperated with the Corps in acquiring additional portions of Redwing Slough in Lake County.
On September 30th, Steve participated in a field workshop on fen wetlands in Iowa. Participating agencies included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. EPA, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Soil Conservation Service, and the Iowa State University extension Service. During the field workshop, Steve shared with the 50+ participants the Commission's experiences in Illinois preserving and managing fen wetlands. Steve is planning to sponsor a similar field workshop on fens for resource professionals in northeastern Illinois next spring.
On October 11th, Steve presented a slide show for Region 5 staff of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that highlighted the surviving natural areas of the Chicago region. Steve discussed how tenets of landscape ecology could be applied to preserve the region's biological diversity, as well as the importance of managing these sites. Steve also described the Natural Heritage database maintained by the Division of Natural Heritage, the endangered species/high quality natural areas consultation review process, and the role of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission in preserving high-quality natural areas in northeastern Illinois.
Mary Kay Solecki, Central Illinois Field Representative, introduced Suzanne Smith, who is a private consultant working on the Little Vermilion River Protection Project. She has already contacted 2/3 of the 40 landowners along the Little Vermilion.
Mary Kay reported a new natural heritage landmark (NHL), Jasmine Hollow, which protects over 1/2 mile of the Sangamon River and adjacent forest in Piatt County northeast of Decatur. This part of the Sangamon River is recognized by the INAI. This NHL is the first one to protect an ecologically significant river segment.
At the last Commission meeting, Jack White spoke about Pellville Cemetery Prairie and expressed concern that IDOC and Pheasants Forever planted a grassland restoration using native grasses of non-local genotype adjacent to the high-quality prairie remnant at Pellville Cemetery Prairie. Since that time, all interested parties worked out an agreement to replace the existing grass planting with locally collected prairie grass seed. Mary Kay has been coordinating the seed collection effort.
The Lieutenant Governor's office has organized an Illinois River Strategy Team to work on a recovery plan for the Illinois River floodplain ecosystem. Mary Kay is serving on the Illinois River Ecology and Economic Advisory Committee to the Strategy Team. Mary Kay has attended the first meeting and it promises to be very interesting.
Mary Kay presented a talk on "Exotic and Aggressive Species in Illinois Prairies" last month at the Central Illinois Prairie Conference in Decatur.
Mary Kay gave a grass identification workshop in Springfield for 24 eager and enthusiastic volunteer stewards.
Susie Hager, West-central Illinois Field Representative, has spent most of her time with landowner contacts. She has been working in the Beardstown Marsh area, which has endangered and threatened birds and the Illinois chorus frog. Susie has also signed up a Natural Heritage Landmark in Cass County which is an INAI site that has the Illinois chorus frog. In September, Susie attended the Central Illinois Prairie Conference in Decatur.
Commissioner Spale reported that a change is being made in the Cook County Forest Preserve District's Act. Under Section 8.3, wording has been changed to state "property owned by a Forest Presere District shall not be subject to annexation without express consent of the District except by a home rule municipality for purposes of including within the boundaries of the municipality grounds, buildings, and facilities for use for any purpose related to the granting of an owner's license under subdivision E-4A of section 7 of the Riverboat Gambling Act". The Cook County Forest Preserve District is very distressed over this. They are hoping that the Commission can assist the FPD in opposition to this proposed change of use. Brian stated that he would find out exactly where the legislation stands at this point and coordinate with the Governor's office, who he feels would have some serious concerns about this approach.
145-6) IDOC Staff Report
Carl Becker reported that IDOC recently reached an agreement with UNIMIN Corporation regarding their activities at George Fell Nature Preserve (Ogle County). Workers employed by UNIMIN trespassed onto IDOC nature preserve land in 1992 and bulldozed a portion of the preserve. An assessment of damages has been made and UNIMIN agreed to donate $5,000 for restoration of damages. The money will go into the Wildlife Preservation Fund to pay for the restoration. In addition, UNIMIN has plans to be mining in the area for many years. They have had a number of conservation endeavors in other states, and have decided to create a partnership in Illinois. UNIMIN has agreed to donate to IDOC $5,000 a year for 20 years for the purposes of identifying, protecting, restoring, and managing natural areas and endangered species and habitats in the Rock River Valley and in the vicinity of Oregon, Illinois, including Castle Rock State Park, White Pines State Park, Lowden-Miller State Forest and Lowden State Park.
The St. Peter sandstone at the UNIMIN mine is very deep and is very high quality. There is also concern because many of the heads of the ravines that go into the George Fell Nature Preserve and parts of Castle Rock State Park are located in the area to be mined. UNIMIN has, therefore, also agreed to work with IDOC on a Memorandum of Agreement that will monitor the surface water quality.
Don McFall reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collected a large fine for a wetland violation in the Chain-O-Lakes area. The Corps wanted to use the fine money to protect wetlands in the Chain-O-Lakes area. IDOC received $115,000 of the fine money which allowed them to purchase 39 acres at Redwing Slough. Money was originally budgeted to pay for this purchase from the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund. Since IDOC received this funding, the Natural Areas money will be available to purchase other natural areas.
Since the last meeting, IDOC has optioned an important Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) site, the Hitts-Siding Prairie in Will County, near Wilmington. This site is 230 acres in size and includes mesic and wet mesic prairie. It is one of the Commission's "Gap List" sites (a natural community unrepresented in the Nature Preserves System). Don thanked Joe Roth, who is with CorLands, for all of the time he spent with the landowner, getting this acquisition lined up. Natural Areas Acquisition Fund money will be used to purchase the prairie.
IDOC is now developing the FY'96 Natural Areas Acquisition Fund land acquisition program. Planned acquisitions include an addition to Goose Lake Prairie State Park, perhaps adding 60 acres to this park to buffer and protect more wetland and prairie. IDOC is also planning a land acquisition initiative along the Apple River in JoDaviess County and along the Little Vermilion River in Vermilion County.
Since the last Commission meeting, the annual meeting of the Natural Areas Evaluation Committee was held to add, delete, and modify boundaries of Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) natural areas. Brian Anderson represents the Commission on that Committee. Approximately 25 areas were added to the INAI. Among the areas added were a number of the southern Illinois barrens, a rare natural community type; Lyman Woods, DuPage County; Kennicott's Grove, Cook County; Goodenow Grove, Will County; and Old Water Tower Prairie in McHenry County. Most of the sites added are endangered species sites, some contain high quality natural communities.
145-7) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Ken Fiske reported that election day will be an important day for JoDaviess County, because the referendum to establish a County Conservation District will be on the ballot.
Ken also wanted to make the Commission aware of new federal open space standards that were to be announced on October 15, 1994. The draft document has been completed and sent out for review. The new federal open space standard will be completed before the end of the year. This is going to effect every SCORP plan in the United States. The basic changes will mean that states, counties, or municipalities which have a lot of natural areas, will no longer be penalized in the grant scoring relative to the need for recreational open space.
Gordon Goodman gave an update on Lyman Woods and Belmont Prairie Nature Preserve. He reported that the Village of Downers Grove had held an informational meeting, and they stressed that Metra had scaled back the facility proposed to be constructed across the road from the recent addition to Belmont Prairie Nature Preserve. They received encouragement from the Commission staff to not expand the station into the neighborhood of Belmont Prairie Nature Preserve. Mr. Goodman expressed gratitude for that. At the end of the Village meeting, the village manager of the Village of Downers Grove stated that he had become aware of a signoff by the Commission stating that if certain concerns were dealt with, the Commission would not object to the Metra site and wondered what the village manager was referring to.
Brian Anderson suggested the village manager may be making reference to the Commission staff's recommendations on landscaping of the Metra site and for vegetative buffer between the prairie and the Metra site. Lighting recommendations were also suggested. The Commission looked extensively at the drainage issue to make sure the water was neither diverted toward or away from the nature preserve. Monitoring wells are now in place and the water will continue to be monitored. Brian also reminded Mr. Goodman that Metra did not need Commission approval for the development, but based on Metra's responsiveness, staff found no grounds for opposing the Metra development.
Mr. Goodman gave a report on Lyman Woods. There is very substantial development of land north of 31st Street which is very close to Lyman Woods. This is going to be a residential development. This has directed a great deal of public attention on Lyman Woods in the community. There is also property south of 31st Street that directly adjoins Lyman Woods and Mr. Goodman believes that this might be a crucial time for the Commission, Forest Preserve Park District Village, and The Nature Conservancy to look at acquiring more of the wooded area which adjoins Lyman Woods. A discussion ensued regarding the impact of residential development and potential threats.
145-8) Recognition of Outstanding Service
Frank Farwell reported that since the last meeting, three outstanding individuals who have contributed much to the conservation efforts in Illinois in the last couple of decades have died. Those individuals are: George B. Fell, Neil Gaston, and Ralph Brown. Brian prepared three resolutions recalling their efforts and contributions and brought them before the Commission.
It was moved by Farwell, seconded by Spale, and carried that the following resolutions be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission wishes to recognize the contributions of George B. Fell, the Commission's founder, to the preservation of our planet's biodiversity. George and Barbara Fell committed a lifetime to this important work and the Commission is proud to be a part of their legacy. George will be missed by us all.
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission wishes to express it's regret at the passing of Neil Gaston, Chairman of the Commission from 1985-1987, and recognize his contributions to the Commission in building bridges with the Department of Conservation and other statewide interests, and in enhancing the Commission's public profile. Neil's focus and drive have contributed significantly to the Commission's success in preserving the rarest of Illinois' resources.
The Commission wishes to express its sympathy to the family and friends of Ralph Brown at his passing. Ralph began working for The Nature Conservancy in 1977 and served as State Director from 1980-1983. Ralph recognized the importance of the relationships that a fledgling landowner contact staff had built with the owner's of Illinois' natural areas. He unilaterally stepped in to save that program. Many of the natural areas that the Commission has protected might otherwise have been lost. The Commission will be forever grateful to him for his insight and direct action.
On behalf of the Commission, and as an expression of appreciation to Valerie Spale for her service as Chairperson, Brian presented Valerie with a framed picture of Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. This will always remind her of one of the highlights of her chairmanship.
Valerie thanked the Commission for the picture, and emphasized how meaningful it was to her. She stated that her time with the Commission has been very rewarding and feels privileged to have served on the Commission with so many distinguished colleagues in the conservation movement in Illinois. She feels the Commission has accomplished a great deal in the past few years and continues to move forward in a wonderful direction.
145-9) Water Law in Illinois
Carolyn Grosboll reported that at the last Commission meeting, she was asked to prepare some information regarding water law in Illinois. As a result of that request, Carolyn prepared a memo to the Commission which was distributed with the Agenda as item 9. However, since she prepared that memo, she learned of some other information, that she had not come across during her initial research. Consequently, she has prepared a revised memo and it was distributed at the meeting.
As stated in her original memo, there are two theories of water law in the United States. The western states, with little water resources, follow the "prior appropriation" doctrine which is based on the principle of "first in time, first in right". Under this doctrine, water belongs to the people generally, and the states, on behalf of the people, regulate use and ownership of the water.
The eastern states, including Illinois, which represent humid areas with plenty of water resources, follow the "riparian rights" doctrine which provides that only riparian landowners have certain rights to use the water. Under this doctrine, the water does not belong to the people in general or the State, but constitutes a property interest to be adjusted among those who have access to water from their own land.
Under Illinois' riparian rights doctrine, public recreational rights in water depends upon 3 characteristics of a stream or river which must be looked at independently - bed ownership, riparian ownership, and whether the stream or river is considered navigable or is a public water. Carolyn's initial memo goes through each of these characteristics in detail; however, her revised memo addresses public water which wasn't addressed in the original memo. In 1993 IDOT's Division of Water Resources promulgated rules defining what the public waters are in this State. These rules were 20 years in the making and Carolyn's initial research referred to them as Draft Rules. The Rules provide a list of streams, rivers, and lakes which are considered public and provides for a procedure to add to the list. Interestingly, this list differs from the federal court case list which was attached to her original memo. IDOC is of the opinion that if a waterway is a public water, the public have the ability to participate in any recreational activity on the water. IDOT's argument is that when Illinois became part of the Union, under federal common law, navigable waters were given to the State, including the bed of the stream or river, to be held in trust for the benefit of the people and that these rights were inalienable. IDOT argues that even if the State did convey the bed of a stream or river, the conveyance was null and void since the rights were inalienable. This gets around the taking issue Carolyn discussed in her first memo. IDOT believes that if a waterway is a "public water", i.e. on their list, the public can do whatever it wants in the water regardlessof who the riparian landowner is. It is unclear what weight the federal case list has in the eyes of IDOT.
If the waterway is not a public water within IDOT's definition and the riparian landowner is a private individual, thus the bed of the waterway is privately owned, then the public has no rights to the stream or river without the landowner's consent. If the riparian landowner is a public entity, thus the public owns the bed of the stream, then the public has the right to use the waterway for recreational purposes.
Carolyn's initial research found a 1905 case, where the Illinois Supreme Court specifically stated that hunting and fishing are not allowed on privately owned streams or rivers even if the water is considered navigable. IDOT disputes this case and argues that not all of the facts were given to the Court when this case was decided. However, IDOT concurs that if the waterway is not considered public and is privately owned, the public has no rights to participate in recreational activities.
In light of IDOT's position that all public waters are held in trust by the State for the public's benefit, a question arises as to whether public waters may be dedicated as nature preserves without IDOT being a party to the dedication. We have always assumed, when dedicating to the center of a stream or river, that the riparian landowner owned to the center of the waterway. However, IDOT is stating that the State owns the entire bed bottom of public waters. If the waterway is not considered a public water within IDOT's rules, this is not a problem; however, then we get to the issue of whether fishing is allowed on non-public streams or rivers that are dedicated as nature preserves. Staff has looked at this question and has found that the Natural Areas Preservation Act and the rules governing nature preserves very clearly prohibit the taking of animals and harvesting of aquatic life in nature preserves. Given that express prohibition, staff tried looking at alternatives or middle ground, such as a catch and release policy which IDOC fisheries thought was a good idea. However, that alternative isn't allowed under the Act or rules either since the Act prohibits the disturbing or injuring of animals in a preserve and the public use rules state that it is unlawful to harass or pursue a fish in a nature preserve. Without an amendment to the Commission's rules and Act, a catch and release policy isn't possible. Finally, staff looked at the strengths and weaknesses of registering streams and rivers, since the Register of Land and Water Reserves (Register) allows for fishing. While the register affords some protection of a stream or river, it is questionable whether the protection provided by the Register could stop a channelization or dredging project, as a dedication could, since the level of protection isn't as strong. Also, only high quality or long stretches of streams or rivers are eligible for protection under the Register. This leaves a gap, in that a dedication might include a lower quality stream or river. Historically, when lands adjacent to a stream or river have been dedicated, the Commission has dedicated to the center of the waterway. As stated in both of Carolyn's memos, if a nature preserve dedication extends to the center of a stream or river and the other half of the waterway is not dedicated, then the undedicated half can technically be fished and the stream or river is still provided a significant degree of protection. The problem arises when a landowner wants to dedicate land on both sides of a stream or river, but wants to continue to fish the waterway. This was the concern with Barton-Sommers Woodland. In these situations, the Commission may want to consider the Register, assuming the river or stream qualifies and keeping in mind that the level of protection isn't as high as a dedication, or dedicating to the center of the stream or river on one half of the parcel, leaving half of the stream undedicated, then dedicating the remaining parcel.
Chairman Farwell asked Commissioner Schmitt to chair an ad hoc committee with Carolyn to deal with this and possibly come up with some rules or change the law somewhat so that the Commission is protecting the resources that are in the streams, while still allowing for recreational access to adjacent stream segments.
145-10) Redefining the Function of the Technical Advisory Committee on Management
Brian reported that the Commission has been in the process over the last four to five years of streamlining the master planning process considerably. Brian reported that under the old process, (which is still in place) the plan followed an approved outline and guidance provided by a Master Planning Handbook generating what the Commission staff often refer to as the "telephone book master plan." Those master plans were reviewed by the Technical Advisory Committee on Management, brought to the Commission for approval, went to the IDOC for their review and approval, and then to the landowner for their approval. Under the new system, you have three parts to a Master Plan: background information and rights, custody, and use; management goals; and management schedules. The Commission has already approved giving staff the power to approve management goals and the management schedules. One reason this works out, is as we developed the management schedule approach to planning, we also have developed a series of management guidelines. There are guidelines on the use of prescribed fire, specific exotics, and deer management. Essentially what this means is if a management activity is allowed by a guideline, it will be approved as part of a schedule. What is being proposed is changing the technical advisory committee's primary function to the review of management guidelines and also in a more proactive way identifying guidelines that need to be developed. By focusing the technical advisory committee's efforts on the guidelines, we are going to maximize the benefit of their input and their expertise. On another issue, the Chairperson typically would sign the telephone book master plan based upon a resolution of approval by the Commission before taking it back to the landowner and the Department of Conservation for signature. Since those approvals are being done at staff level, it's being recommended that the Chairperson be empowered to sign approved master plans so that there would still be a signature of a Commissioner as opposed to a staff person.
Randy Heidorn has typed out a proposed resolution for consideration. Commissioner Schmitt asked that there be a word change in the Resolution Under Part 3) the word should be changed from "controversial" to "contested".
It was moved by Donnelley, seconded by Spale, and carried that the resolution be adopted as corrected.
The Commission hereby directs the administrative staff to implement the following in an effort to enhance management planning and implementation on dedicated nature preserves as described in the memorandum to Brian Anderson under Item 10 of the Agenda of the 145th meeting.
1. Coordinate with members of the Technical Advisory Committee on Management to meet regularly to review management guidelines and make recommendations to the Commission.
2. Review and approve all master plans, goal statements, management schedules and specific management actions that are in compliance with the Rules for Management of Illinois Nature Preserves, management guidelines, or previous actions of the Commission.
3. Bring to the Commission for their review and approval all proposed management actions that are contested or not previously approved for use in a preserve or covered by the Rules for Management of an Illinois Nature Preserve, or a management guideline.
4. Present to the Chair of the Commission for final approval any master plans following the old format that meet the requirements set forth above.
145-11) Cook County -- Dropseed Prairie, Dedication
Steve Byers presented a proposal for Dropseed Prairie for preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve. At 13 acres, Dropseed Prairie is the smallest of the Indian Boundary Prairies. It is owned by The Nature Conservancy. Dropseed Prairie, originally identified by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory as I-57 Prairie, was recognized for the extant very high quality (Grade A) and high quality (Grade B) mesic prairie communities. Those communities have prospered, as have all the Indian Boundary Prairies, under the watchful guidance of Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies, an affiliate of The Nature Conservancy's Volunteer Stewardship Network. This prairie, together with Paintbrush Prairie, is situated on calcareous soils that support unique assemblages of prairie not commonly encountered on either Sundrop Prairie or Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. Despite its smaller size, the Grade A and Grade B mesic prairies located at Dropseed Prairie make it an important and integral component of the Indian Boundary Prairies.
It was moved by Schmitt, seconded by Adelmann, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of Dropseed Prairie in Cook County as a nature preserve as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-12) Cook County -- Paintbrush Prairie, Dedication
Steve Byers presented a proposal for Paintbrush Prairie for preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve. Paintbrush Prairie, one of the Indian Boundary Prairies owned by The Nature Conservancy, is proposed for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Paintbrush Prairie is 60 acres in size, and includes elements of high quality mesic prairie, as well as recovering wet-mesic prairie, wet prairie, and sedge meadow communities. Paintbrush Prairie supports two state threatened plant species, the eared false foxglove (Tomanthera auriculata) and early fen sedge (Carex crawei). The eared false foxglove is also a candidate for listing as a federally threatened species. The calcareous soils of Paintbrush Prairie support plant associations that contribute to the overall plant species richness of the Indian Boundary Prairies. Paintbrush Prairie is large enough to attract grassland nesting birds and several habitat restricted insects. Its relatively large size and juxtaposition within an archipelago of prairies make Paintbrush Prairie an important and integral component of the Indian Boundary Prairies.
It was moved by Spale, seconded by Donnelley, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of Paintbrush Prairie in Cook County as a nature preserve as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-13) Cook County -- Sundrop Prairie, Dedication
Steve Byers presented a proposal for Sundrop Prairie for preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve. Sundrop Prairie, one of the Indian Boundary Prairies owned by The Nature Conservancy, is proposed for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Sundrop Prairie is a relatively large 80-acre, prairie/wetland complex that supports Grade C sand prairie and mesic prairie communities. The more common sand prairies, located on the sandier soils of Sundrop Prairie, demonstrate closer affinities with Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve than either Paintbrush Prairie or Dropseed Prairie. The high quality sedge meadows support a rich assemblage of plants, including the state threatened early fen sedge (Carex crawei). At least 230 plant species have been recorded from Sundrop Prairie. The proposed Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve is also large enough to attract grassland nesting birds and several habitat restricted insects. Its relatively large size, and juxtaposition within an archipelago of prairies make Sundrop Prairie an important and integral component of the Indian Boundary Prairies.
It was moved by Donnelley, seconded by Paulson, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of Sundrop Prairie in Cook County as a nature preserve as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-14) Lake County -- Addition to Skokie River Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steve Byers presented one parcel of land, totalling approximately 2.0 acres, which is proposed for dedication as buffer to the Skokie River Nature Preserve located in Lake County, Illinois. The 2.0 acres consist of degraded mesic prairie located immediately adjacent to McLaughlin Prairie, one of two Illinois Natural Areas Inventory sites encompassed by the Skokie River Nature Preserve. The proposal to dedicate Skokie River Nature Preserve, approved by the Commission at its 134th Meeting (Resolution 1106), called for the linkages between major high quality sections of the preserve to "...be expanded through dedication of adjacent lands as buffer and improved by natural community restoration." This proposal is consistent with those recommendations and will further buffer the existing nature preserve from nearby, incompatible land uses. Private dedications have increased Skokie River Nature Preserve from 100 acres to approximately 113.5 acres.
It was moved by Spasovich, seconded by Paulson, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of an addition to Skokie River Nature Preserve in Lake County as a nature preserve as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-15) Morgan County -- Addition to Meredosia Hill Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Mary Kay Solecki presented a 6.2-acre addition to Meredosia Hill Prairie Nature Preserve for preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve. Owned by the Department of Conservation, the 30.02-acre Meredosia Hill Prairie Nature Preserve was dedicated on September 25, 1986. In 1977, 11 acres of this 30-acre nature preserve were identified by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory as grade B loess hill prairie. The proposed addition is primarily composed of loess hill prairie, however, a small area of old pasture and a portion of an abandoned sand mine are present. The hill prairie is dominated by sideoats grama and little bluestem. Common forbs include pale purple coneflower and silky aster. The state endangered pink milkwort also occurs on this tract. Meredosia Hill Prairie Nature Preserve is located in northwest Morgan County approximately six miles northeast of the town of Meredosia. With this dedication, all of the remaining inventoried natural area will be brought under protection. This addition will bring the total acreage of this nature preserve to 36.25 acres.
It was moved by Spale, seconded by Donnelley, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of an addition to Meredosia Hill Prairie Nature Preserve in Morgan County as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-16) Whiteside County -- Lyndon Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
John Alesandrini presented a proposal for Lyndon Prairie for preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve. The proposed Lyndon Prairie Nature Preserve is a three-mile corridor of abandoned railroad right-of-way (ROW) northeast of Lyndon, Illinois in the central part of Whiteside County. Scattered remnants of dry-mesic, mesic and wet-mesic prairie occur along the ROW. Approximately four-fifths of a mile - in the center part of this section of ROW - was listed by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) and characterized at that time as a mixture of Grades A, B and C prairie. The Natural Land Institute, as primary owner, and in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Miles J. Wooster Trust, and the Wooster family, propose to dedicate approximately 21.8 acres of this ROW prairie as an Illinois nature preserve and an additional 8.7 acres as nature preserve buffer.
After a long discussion, the Commission felt that it was not appropriate for the Wooster Trust, as a private trust to sign a dedication document when their ownership of the tract was not clearly defined. The Commission suggested that the Natural Land Institute take some action to try to further solidify its own claim to ownership. The Commission reaffirmed that by giving preliminary approval, it is only determining the biological significance of this property.
It was moved by Spale, seconded by Schmitt, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of Lyndon Prairie in Whiteside County as a nature preserve as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-17) Cook County -- Chicago Ridge Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steve Byers presented Chicago Ridge Prairie for final approval as a nature preserve. Chicago Ridge Prairie is considered a "Gap List" site because the mesic gravel prairie present at this site is not currently represented in the Illinois Nature Preserves System. Two of only three mesic gravel prairies identified during the INAI currently survive. The Corporation for Open Lands (CorLands) proposes to dedicate a total of 12.9 acres which encompass 7.9 acres of high quality mesic gravel prairie and wet prairie communities and approximately 5.0 acres of wetland fill, as an Illinois Nature Preserve. At least 150 species of plants are known from Chicago Ridge Prairie, including the state-endangered small white lady slipper and the state-threatened Hill's thistle. The Two-spotted skipper, a species included on the State Watch List, and considered rare in northeastern Illinois has also been recorded from Chicago Ridge Prairie. Management considerations outlined in the proposal include future fencing and trail routing along the perimeter of the proposed preserve and removal of the fill placed in the wet prairie community. Preservation of Chicago Ridge was possible because of the cooperative agreement between CorLands and the Oak Lawn Park District. Ultimately, Chicago Ridge Prairie will be transferred to the Oak Lawn Park District. Chicago Ridge Prairie received preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 143rd Meeting (Resolution 1229).
It was moved by Donnelley, seconded by Spale, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for dedication of Chicago Ridge Nature Preserve in Cook County as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-18) McHenry County -- Bates Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the McHenry County Conservation District, Steve Byers presented a 183-acre portion of the 270-acre Bates Fen for final approval for dedication as a nature preserve. Representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division, the fen's grade B marsh, sedge meadow, and graminoid fen communities support five species of state-threatened or state-endangered plants, and provide breeding habitat for 3 state-endangered and one state-threatened bird species. The area recognized by the INAI (#708) encompasses Bates Fen and Oakwood Hills Fen Nature Preserve. Bates Fen received preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve at the Commission's 138th Meeting (Resolution 1164).
It was moved by Adelmann, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for dedication of Bates Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County as described in the proposal presented under Item 18 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-19) Will County -- Messenger Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Forest Preserve District of Will County, Marcy DeMauro presented Messenger Woods, totalling 407 acres, for final approval for dedication as nature preserve; 180 acres as nature preserve and 227 acres as nature preserve buffer. Messenger Woods was recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory for the presence of high quality, dry-mesic and mesic upland forests. Other plant communities present within the proposed preserve include shrub swamp, wet prairie, and cultural communities. At least 146 native plant species have been recorded from the proposed preserve, including the state-endangered rock elm and heart-leaved plantain. Both species, however, may have been extirpated from the proposed preserve. Avian species of note include the state-endangered Cooper's Hawk and state-threatened Veery which are known to nest within the proposed preserve, as well as the Red-Shouldered Hawk, a state-endangered species that nests on private land immediately north of the proposed preserve and forages within the preserve. Picnicking facilities currently exist in the center of the proposed buffer and an equestrian trail is proposed along the periphery of the preserve. Dedication of Messenger Woods as an Illinois Nature Preserve will preserve the best surviving examples of high quality dry mesic and mesic upland forests located south of the Chicago Lake Plain. Messenger Woods received preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve at the Commission's 144th Meeting (Resolution 1239).
It was moved by Schmitt, seconded by Adelmann, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for dedication of Messenger Woods Nature Preserve in Will County as described in the proposal presented under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
145-20) Other Business
Referring to Brian's memo of 13 October 1994, which was sent to the Commissioners, an amendment to the Baxter's Grove addition should have been an agenda item. The Commission is amending the dedication document because an error was found in the legal description. That error is indicated on the second page of the handout. However, this dedication document has not gone to the Governor for his approval, because the Commission is also waiting for the farm lease to be signed which was part of the original dedication.
It was moved by Schmitt, seconded by Donnelley, and carried that the following resolution be adopted as amended:
The Commission grants approval for an amendment to the legal description in the instrument of dedication for the Addition to Baxter's Grove Nature Preserve given final approval as Resolution 1238 as described under Item 20 of the Agenda for the 145th meeting.
Brian reported that he has been invited to do an intergovernmental exchange with the National Biological Survey (NBS). The NBS has been created as an independent Science Bureau within the Department of Interior. All the research and inventory capabilities of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management have been integrated into this new unit. They are looking for someone who has experience with the research needs of states. Brian would leave next Sunday, and come back before the February 7 Commission meeting. During that time, Carolyn would serve as acting Director. The vast majority of Brian's salary would be reimbursed to the Commission, which would allow Carolyn to give staff additional hours if she needs extra help while Brian is gone.
It was moved by Schmitt, seconded by Spale, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the intergovernmental exchange with the National Biological Survey, and believes the 90-day assignment for Brian Anderson will provide benefits to the people, fish, wildlife, and plant resources of Illinois by insuring this federal entity is aware of the biological information needs at the state and local levels.
It was moved by Donnelley, seconded by Adelmann, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.