160-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:10 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Ranney, the meeting began.
Chair Ranney introduced Carolyn Grosboll, Director of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) who gave the role call.
Members present: Penny Beattie, Guy Fraker, Lorin Nevling, Joyce O'Keefe, Don Pierce and Victoria Ranney.
Members absent: Dianne Burton, Jon Ellis and Michael Schneiderman.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Loretta Arient, Steven Byers, Bob Edgin, Judy Faulkner, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Tammie McKay, Patti Malmborg, Angella Moorehouse, Debbie Newman and Brian Reilly, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Carl Becker, Bill Davison, Amy Horstman, Bob Lindsay and Mike Redmer, Division of Natural Heritage, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Allen Grosboll, Office of the Governor; Jim Herkert, Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board; Jennifer Coady, Susan Dees and George Rose, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Gordon Eggers and Ed Stirling, Natural Land Institute (NLI); David Thomas, Illinois Natural History Survey, IDNR; Al Pyott, The Wetlands Initiative; Ken Fiske, INPC Consultant; Darlene Fiske, Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board; Betty Babcock, Nature Preserve Owner; Betty Youngblood, Illinois Audubon Society; Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society and INPC Consultant; Liz Farwell, Liberty Prairie Conservancy; Al Wilson, Steward for Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve; Gail Miller, G. Miller Consulting; Jane Amorosi, Gordon Goodman and Rita Martin, Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance; Casey Bukro, Chicago Tribune; Cynthia Skrukrud, McHenry County Defenders; Tom Donnelley, Chair of the Friends of Ryerson Woods; Marcy DeMauro, Forest Preserve District of Will County; Joe Roth, Corlands; Jackie Brown and George Ranney, Prairie Holdings Corporation; Mike Sands and Carol Sonnenschein, Liberty Prairie Foundation; Betsy Dietl, Liberty Prairie Conservancy, Gretchen Bonfert, Green Strategies; Valerie Spale, Save the Prairie Society and INPC Consultant; and Jim Anderson, Lake County Forest Preserve District.
Chair Ranney gave an update on properties which were dedicated and registered at INPC's 159th meeting which was held at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois on May 5, 1998. Five new Land and Water Reserves were registered totalling 2,195 acres. These five new Land and Water Reserves are owned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Land and Water Reserves, otherwise known as registered reserves, are a different level of protection than an Illinois Nature Preserve. It is a voluntary protection program for areas that support significant natural heritage or archaeological resources that are in public or private ownership. The agreement between the owner and INPC and IDNR includes a management program for a number of years, or it can be permanent. This is different from a nature preserve in that a registered reserve does allow fishing, firewood gathering, or hunting. A total of 21 land and water reserves have been registered since the program was started in May, 1994. Approximately 3/4 of them have been on land owned by IDNR and Chair Ranney thanked IDNR for registering so many of them.
Also at the last meeting, INPC gave final approval for the dedication of six sites as nature preserves totalling 690 acres. Four of the new nature preserves, totalling 60 acres, are privately owned. The dollar value of the lands dedicated by private individuals is conservatively estimated at $520,000. An Illinois Nature Preserve is a tract of land that is permanently protected by State law due to the rare plants, animals, or other features present. The legal protection granted is the strongest protection for land in Illinois. There is no hunting, fishing, or taking by eminent domain of an Illinois Nature Preserve. Assistance is provided to landowners for proper stewardship. There is no de-dedication for an Illinois Nature Preserve unless it can be shown that there is an imperative important public necessity and that de-dedication must be done jointly by INPC and by the Governor. Once a piece of land is dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve, it is saved except for some very extraordinary circumstances. INPC is very proud of the record of the last meeting and also the cumulative number of nature preserves that have been set aside since the Commission started in 1963, being the first in the country.
160-2) Adoption of Agenda
Carolyn Grosboll noted a few amendments: Item 18 has been postponed at the request of the landowner; Item 16 will follow Item 12 since they will be dealing with the same area of land; and Item 14 the title should read "McHenry Co.-- Wilson Tract Addition of Buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve".
It was moved by Beattie, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the Agenda, as amended, be adopted.
Chair Ranney stated that a number of guests at the meeting have come out of interest for the Savanna Army Depot or Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve and she wanted to let them know that although those items are not listed as an Agenda item, that they are a significant part of the INPC Staff Report that Carolyn Grosboll will provide. At the conclusion of Carolyn's report, there will be time for public comment on the issues that she has brought up in her report.
160-3) Approval of Minutes of 159th Meeting, May 5, 1998
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by O'Keefe and carried that the Minutes of the 159th INPC meeting be approved.
160-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Carolyn Grosboll reported that INPC's 161st Meeting will be held October 27, 1998 at Camp Wokanda Lodge, which is owned by the Peoria Park District, in Mossville, Illinois.
Chair Ranney introduced Allen Grosboll who came on behalf of Governor Edgar in recognition of INPC's 35th Anniversary. Mr. Grosboll reiterated Chair Ranney's previous statement that the Commission was created in 1963. It was the first such Commission in the country and he feels that it is appropriate that this state was the first state to have a Commission. Illinois was a state that was under a great deal of pressure in terms of its natural resources, both from agricultural pressures as well as developmental pressures. The Commission has served its function well, which is to attempt to preserve and protect those few remaining areas of the state that remain in the condition before European settlement. Mr. Grosboll recognized that the INPC has done an outstanding job and has been creative in terms of how it has approached its land protection goals. Mr. Grosboll stated it is his pleasure to attend this meeting and present a Proclamation from Governor Edgar. This State of Illinois Proclamation states:
"WHEREAS, the State of Illinois was the first state in the union to create a commission with the express purpose of protecting the state's highest quality natural resources; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission is celebrating 35 years of protecting Illinois' finest remaining examples of prairies, forests, wetlands and other natural areas since being established by law on August 28, 1963; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission focuses its conservation efforts on the protection of Illinois' best remaining natural areas as identified by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, a landmark scientific effort carried out in the 1970's to locate and describe elements of what remains of Illinois' dwindling native landscape; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission promotes the preservation of these significant lands and oversees their stewardship, management and protection; and
WHEREAS, there are currently 279 dedicated Nature Preserves in Illinois totaling more than 36,000 acres located in 73 of Illinois' 102 counties; and
WHEREAS, there are currently 21 areas registered under the four-year-old program, the Register of Land and Water Reserves, totaling more than 3,000 acres; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission cultivates a strong partnership with its many landowners recognizing that these individuals, governmental bodies, and not-for-profits are instrumental in protecting Illinois' significant ecological resources;
THEREFORE, I, Jim Edgar, Governor of the State of Illinois, proclaim August, 1998 as ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES COMMISSION MONTH in Illinois in recognition of the Commission's 35th Anniversary, and I urge the citizens of the State of Illinois to recognize the importance of protecting our rare natural resources.
Mr. Grosboll presented this Proclamation to Chair Ranney.
Chair Ranney thanked Mr. Grosboll for presenting the Proclamation and she also asked him to convey the Commission's appreciation to Governor Edgar. She stated that the Commission is proud to serve under Governor Edgar and he has proved himself to be one of the best environmental Governors that the State has had. Chair Ranney stated that even in a difficult situation, by reversing what seemed like a done deal with the Savanna Army Depot and the prison that was sited on it, Governor Edgar was willing to listen to the recommendations of INPC and other organizations and to go back in and look for another site and come up with a site in the end which satisfied all of the players involved, at least to the extent that it is humanly possible to do such a thing. She also stated that no Governor is any better than his best staff members and she stated that the Commission knows who was behind the scenes working on the Savanna Army Depot, which was Allen Grosboll. She stated that INPC really appreciates Governor Edgar's and Mr. Grosboll's repeated efforts on behalf of the environment.
Mr. Grosboll thanked Chair Ranney for her comments. He indicated that the Governor's office received a lot of correspondence and phone calls from friends of the environment trying to get the point across that there were issues at the Savanna Army Depot and the prison site which had not been totally addressed. Mr. Grosboll stated that this was not an easy matter to deal with, but ultimately they came to the right conclusion. Mr. Grosboll again thanked the Commission for their efforts in that regard. He also thanked others at this meeting who called and talked with the Governor's office about their concerns. Ultimately, by working with the Illinois Department of Corrections and the local people of that region, another site was found that did not hinder the environment and did not threaten natural resources. Mr. Grosboll is very pleased that they were able to find a resolution, and he again thanked everyone at the meeting for their efforts on this issue. He stated that if the Governor's office had not received aggressive thoughts about the issue from people, it would not have forced them to re-consider the prison relocation.
160-6) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll reported on the Savanna Army Depot. Included in the Commissioners' Agenda packet are newspaper articles regarding the possible location of the prison at the Depot. She stated that Chair Ranney and Allen Grosboll gave a good update on this issue and as Al indicated, an alternative site was located off of the Depot. The site is located on Illinois Route 84 in Carroll County on the northern boundary of the Village of Thomson. It is approximately six miles south of Savanna. The property is owned by Alliant Energy Company and they are going to be donating this property to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). The IDOC surveyed the property and found that it was a suitable site for the maximum security prison. The Governor ordered a public hearing on this issue which was held on July 20, 1998. Based upon the findings of that hearing, IDOC announced in late July that this would be the final location for the prison. Carolyn stated that despite the fact that the prison is no longer going to be located at the Depot, there are still concerns about what is going to happen with the property since it is still under the control of the Local Redevelopment Authority. Carolyn stated that this is something that Chair Ranney would like to discuss further at this time.
Chair Ranney asked if there were people present that would like to speak further on the Savanna Army Depot. She asked that comments be kept short and added that she has received a letter from a concerned citizen who was unable to attend today's meeting.
Gordon Goodman stated that he has written a letter to the Governor urging him to encourage IDNR to buy the land and add it to the Nature Preserves System. He hopes that INPC will consider this action for the property.
Commissioner O'Keefe read the following letter which was sent to Chair Ranney by Nancy Winter, a resident in the western part of the state who has also been very involved in the Savanna Army Depot issue:
Thank you and all the Board members of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission for acting so persuasively in convincing the Governor to reconsider the site selection for the prison scheduled to be built on the prairie of the Savanna Army Depot. For almost three years, citizens here have been expressing strong opposition to the construction of a prison on site #3, but our objections were ignored by both state and local politicians. However, the powerful influence of your committee abruptly altered the situation. We greatly appreciate your involvement.
Now I think it is safe to say the prison will not be built anywhere on the Depot and it is time to get on with the important task of protecting the remaining sand prairie, oak savannas, and river bluffs from any other development. The conservationists here hope the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission will become involved in this effort. We urge you to approach the IDNR and strongly suggest that it look into taking possession of the fragile landscape through a Public Benefit Conveyance (PBC). Right now, since it has lost its anchor tenant, (e.g. the prison), the Local Redevelopment Authority is grappling over what to do with its 3,300 acres. It is time for the IDNR to step in. Please use your influence to put this in motion.
To give you a little historical perspective, in March, 1996, after much heated argument, the 13,000 acres of the Depot was divided up between the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA). This split was done before the survey of natural resources had been completed. Consequently, a considerable amount of the highly sensitive acreage is scheduled to be transferred to the LRA for "development," which includes the controversial prison site. The IDNR did not negotiate for any land at that time, although it did enter into a stewardship agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Although the enclosed Land Use Plan is somewhat confusing, it will help to identify the highly sensitive areas which the LRA has scheduled for commercial use. These include parts or all of the northern housing area, Sites 1, 2, 3, J, and A, as well as the river dunes in the southern section. These portions of the Depot contain fragile natural environments and many significant archeological sites. The IDNR needs to be accountable to the State and become active in protecting these rare pieces of land. We are disappointed that the agency did not step in aggressively three years ago. It is not too late - yet.
Perhaps some members of the Nature Preserves Commission would be able to come out for a tour. I would be glad to assist in making the arrangements. Thank you for your concern.
Sincerely, Nancy Hamill-Winter, Chair, Northwest Illinois Committee of The Nature Conservancy."
Marilyn Campbell, Consultant to INPC, also urged the Commission to use what influence it has to get the Department involved in this issue with the local conservationists and with the development committee so that more land can get preserved there. She doesn't want to see any kind of development come in there if it can be helped.
Allen Grosboll responded that the Department was very involved with the initial battles three years ago. The Department as well as the Governor's office, were involved pressuring both the owners of the property as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others to set aside 10,000 acres for natural resource activities. The Department's role at that time was to try and get as much of the property into public hands as they could. He feels that it is unfairly suggested that the Department is not involved in trying to protect land there. He added that when the 10,000/3,000 split occurred, there was a lousy response to that. People were very pleased and felt it was a fair split of property. Mr. Grosboll stated that the difficulty we find ourselves in now, is that the Local Redevelopment Authority has been identified to receive the 3,000 acres. At the same time, there are concerns about that part of that property containing significant natural resources and about getting some of that property into public hands. Those discussions are going on right now. Mr. Grosboll believes that strategically it is a mistake to now force this issue and in effect take the property away from the Local Redevelopment Authority. They have now lost the prison, which was the anchor of their development activity, and while it is easy for us to say "let's just grab it," the fact is that there are other entities that are involved here. The local citizens in that area have a right to give their input and the federal government told them that they are going to get this 3,000 acres. However, there are discussions about whether or not there is an opportunity to get the Local Redevelopment Authority to agree to some arrangements for releasing some of that land into public hands. The local senators and local legislators will be working with the Local Redevelopment Authority to see what can be done. Mr. Grosboll's advice is to allow this process to work and see if there is a way for all parties to come to an agreement rather than to attempt to force the situation in which this land is literally taken away from the Local Redevelopment Authority after they have already lost the prison and have lost a major anchor for their redevelopment activities. He also informed everyone to keep in mind that much of this property is contaminated property.
Chair Ranney thanked Mr. Grosboll and added that this is a very important perspective to have and the Commission certainly doesn't want to throw a monkey wrench into good ongoing negotiations. She thinks if the Commission comes up with a resolution, it should support the kinds of things that Mr. Grosboll is talking about.
Commissioner Pierce asked whether or not INPC's Natural Areas Preservation Specialists (NAPS) in this area has been put on assignment to look into this more or to come up with a study for future possibilities for this site.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that John Alesandrini is the NAPS in this area and John has been involved with the base closure process from the beginning. He is very much aware of what has been going on and is up to speed on possible protection efforts that might occur there.
Commissioner Pierce asked if John is involved in the negotiations at the site.
Carolyn stated that the Commission needs to identify what it is of that 3,000 acres that the Commission is concerned about. She feels that this is something that the Commission should urge the IDNR to identify for the Commission. They have the ability, in conjunction with the Natural History Survey who has been doing a lot of studies at the Depot, to identify such areas. She feels this should be the first step. Once the areas have been identified, then the Commission can take a broader look at what the possibilities are and what the Commission can do.
John Alesandrini, Area 1 NAPS, stated that he has a couple of concerns with things that he has worked with over a long period at this site. One concern that he has is the same as Carolyn just mentioned, which is what of that 3,000 acres is really important. He noted that to some extent, that question has been answered. John served on the environmental subcommittee that reviewed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the base closure and reuse of the Savanna Army Depot. One of the things that was looked into was natural areas as well as endangered and threatened species and how much of the area is developed. A couple of tidbits from this are for instance, of the 3,000 acres that is designated for reuse and re-development, only 200-300 acres of that is fully developed right now. The remaining 2,700 acres or so has a variety of roads, bunkers, buildings, but interspersed with that is sand prairie blowouts, dunes, and a variety of endangered and threatened species occurrences. One of the things the Natural History Survey has already done for the EIS is to look at the area in terms of where there are significant natural areas. This includes not only endangered and threatened species but prairie vegetation, wetland vegetation or woodland vegetation that is rich enough and diverse enough to actually constitute a remnant community rather than just vegetation scattered around these partially used areas. Identified in the EIS are 16 significant natural areas. Of those 16, seven are within the 10,000 acres that will be conveyed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one is in the area that will be conveyed to the Army Corps of Engineers, and eight of those 16 are within the 3,000 acres that is being conveyed or will be conveyed through the Local Redevelopment Authority. John feels that there is already some information that would point to where the Commission's efforts might be most efficiently directed.
Another thing that comes to mind is that one of the hallmarks of INPC has been that it provide some wonderful tools for permanent protection for natural areas to willing owners. He feels this is part of the key here. The Army, as a federal institution has made it clear, probably rightfully so, they cannot and certainly do not have any interest in State level protection for these properties while they own it. Their interest is in conveying it through the Local Redevelopment Authority to some other owner and he does not think as it is made up right now, that the Local Redevelopment Authority has any interest in actively pursuing nature preserve dedication, registration, conservation easement, or any kind of natural areas protection of these significant natural areas. They are in a position to get the property from the Army and in turn convey it to an owner. When it is in the hands of a willing owner, then John feels he can step in and work with those owners. There are a couple of options, one is a public benefit conveyance option and that is being dealt with as Mr. Grosboll pointed out, by the IDNR. John is not directly involved in those discussions, but he personally feels comfortable that IDNR is doing all they can within a variety of constraints to look into the possibility of public benefit conveyance, meaning the Army in conjunction with the Local Redevelopment Authority would convey the property to the IDNR. The other option that has been looked into and really has not been addressed much is the issue of economic conveyances. Property that is given from the Army to the Local Redevelopment Authority for them to sell for whatever economic benefit to the Authority and the two counties involved and for the purpose of redeveloping this site. An option that has been discussed locally in the area is whether a willing buyer can be located for some of these significant natural areas who would be willing to pay for them and in turn protect them with nature preserve dedication or registration. There are at least two, the Friends of the Depot, who have been very involved in the prison siting issue and also a local southern Wisconsin/northern Illinois group called the Prairie Enthusiasts. These groups have already made their wishes known in applications to the Local Redevelopment Authority that there are certain areas that they would like to acquire as a last resort. John has been in contact with both of them and if either or both of them acquire property, they have already agreed that they would like to pursue registration, if not dedication of those areas to protect the natural areas.
In summary, John stated that there are a lot of natural areas already identified within that 3,000 acres that probably need to be protected and one option is for the Commission, John, or more likely the local and regional citizens to pro-actively pursue organizations, agencies and individuals who can acquire some of those properties from the Local Redevelopment Authority for the purpose of environmental education, nature centers, and low impact recreation, in such a way that it is consistent with protecting the natural areas.
Chair Ranney thanked John for his comments and stated that he gave a very good picture of the options that are available.
Commissioner Nevling presented two resolutions for the Commission's consideration which deals with both of the issues discussed regarding the Depot.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission expresses its gratitude to Governor Edgar and his staff for the successful resolution of the prison location at the Savanna Army Depot, ensuring the preservation of a significant natural area in a manner consistent with economic development and the needs of the local community.
Commissioner Nevling presented the second resolution and stated that it may
need to be modified based on some of the comments that the Commission has just
heard. Nevling stated that at the same time while we all understand that the
prison site has been moved, he feels that it is important to understand that
this does not protect that site from any other development that might come along
and therefore anything the Commission can do to sharpen the issue, even within
the IDNR, may be helpful to some of the people that are involved.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by O'Keefe and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission urges the IDNR to identify those areas on the Savanna Army Depot under control of the Jo-Carroll Depot Local Redevelopment Authority that contain significant natural resources so that a process may be initiated to ensure protection of such areas.
While it has already been pointed out that there is an environmental impact
statement that identifies the significant natural areas, Commissioner Nevling
feels obligated to let the Commission know that he has a conflict of interest
because that report was prepared by the Illinois Natural History Survey while
he was Chief of the Survey.
Commissioner O'Keefe extended her appreciation to Allen Grosboll, who did so much to save the site, and appreciates his comments that the Commission would not want to force the hand of the Local Redevelopment Authority. But, she also is concerned that this motion only addresses identifying resources that may well be identified and that the Commission has not gone on record expressing the Commission's great interest in preserving the property. She is wondering if that might not be useful as a Commission. She thinks it is fair to point out that in terms of redevelopment, that the very source of redevelopment which the local group had counted on, has not been lost from that region, and it seems to her that the Commission can, with a very clean conscience, pursue protection of this property knowing that the Commission has not truly taken something away from the community at large. She is not exactly sure how to strengthen the resolution, but she poses this to Dr. Nevling. She asked Dr. Nevling if he feels that the resolution expresses the concern and commitment the Commission might have to this property properly. He stated that the key words are "may be initiated to ensure protection" and he does not know how that assurance can be delivered, whether it be by private purchase and then in turn the landowner being willing to do something either with the Commission or with another agency. She asked Commissioner Nevling to read the phrase again. After Dr. Nevling read the resolution again, Commissioner O'Keefe stated that her understanding is that the Commission feels this is important property and the Commission is convinced that there are significant natural resources there and the Commission's focus is not only identifying those resources, but moving to the next step of protection.
Carolyn Grosboll added that local citizens in the area are beginning to look at this issue and they recognize the concerns that were expressed with the building of the prison are likely to be expressed with whatever development occurs there. The key thing is to identify areas of interest and create some maps that are easy to present to the citizens to show them exactly what areas are of concern to the Commission. She feels this is very important and the resolution urges the IDNR to do that.
Commissioner Pierce spoke in favor of the resolution and made an analogy to persons on death row. He stated that 16 areas were on trial in the original agreement, eight were set free, eight were sentenced. They were placed on sort of a death row of development. Thanks to the efforts of the Governor's office and Allen Grosboll, the Commission was able to get a stay of execution, and the Governor is to be thanked wholeheartedly, but those areas are still on death row. Pierce stated it is the Commission's job to preserve nature in the state of Illinois, and he feels it is the Governor's office's responsibility to work out the compromises that need to be made. He feels that the Commission should wholeheartedly push for whatever can be done to protect those remaining endangered eight areas.
Carolyn gave an update from the last meeting regarding Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. At the May 5, 1998 INPC meeting, the following Resolution (#1421) was passed regarding Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve: "The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission authorizes its Chair to take all necessary actions, including a personal contact with Material Service Corporation (MSC), to request groundwater chemistry data believed to be held by MSC and if their request is unsuccessful or untimely, to request MSC to halt all mining until it has been determined that Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve will not be negatively impacted by the mining activity." Chair Ranney was able to make that contact and on May 19, 1998 (a few weeks after the Commission meeting), staff did receive groundwater level and groundwater chemistry data from MSC. The data was sent to Jim Miner, a hydrogeologist with the Illinois Geologic Survey, for his review. Jim had an opportunity to review the data and on June 1, 1998 staff received his response. Mr. Miner had some serious concerns. The first being that there were some gaps in the data. No data was collected from 1991 to 1996. The collection of data was to have begun in 1988 or 1989 and continue for 10 years. Also, some of the groundwater chemistry constituents seemed unusually high to him, especially the magnesium and the calcium levels. He also noted that some of the groundwater levels were lower in the wells that were adjacent to some of the mining pits. He said even though the water level changes were not significant, it was strange that some of the wells were lower while others remained the same and if change was caused by atmospheric conditions like rainfall, all of the wells would have been fluctuating at the same level. The staff of the Commission shared Jim Miner's concerns with MSC and it was agreed that Jim's review would be shared with MSC's consultant, STS Consulting. This was done in mid-June and in early July, a response was sent from STS Consulting regarding Jim Miner's review. Basically, they said that all the samples taken prior to 1996 were unfiltered samples and that was why they showed some of the constituents at unusually high levels and they said "elevated concentrations may be due to the total constituents found in the turbid groundwater generated by bailing the wells." They also stated that it can always be argued that you need more data and the fact that they had gaps from 1991-1996 in their opinion did not have an impact on their analysis that the mining activity is not going to have an impact on the Fen. Rather than addressing Jim Miner's concern about the water levels, i.e. that some of the levels were lower in the wells adjacent to the pits, they attributed the low water levels to atmosphere conditions including rainfall and evapotranspiration. INPC staff do not have a formal response to STS Consultant's response, but staff have learned that it is not the usual practice to test unfiltered samples. Staff have also learned that because the samples collected prior to 1996 were unfiltered, one can not go back and reproduce them, therefore they are basically inaccurate.
Based upon those concerns and the concerns expressed by the results of Jim Miner's analysis of the data, Chair Ranney was able to facilitate a meeting between Material Service Corporation, IDNR and INPC. She noted that IDNR owns a portion of the Fen area as does the Village of Lake in the Hills. Those present at the meeting were Chair Ranney, Carolyn, Material Service Corporation's Vice-President of Realty, and their Director for Environmental Services as well as IDNR's Deputy Director and Office Director for Realty and Environmental Planning and the Chief of the Division of Natural Heritage. The meeting was held on July 23 and staff were able to express concerns regarding the ongoing mining and the lack of data showing that the mining activity was not going to have an impact on the Fen. During the course of the discussions, MSC stated that they had an internal report that showed that the mining was not going to have an impact on the Fen. Carolyn asked them what the report shows that was not previously presented to IDNR and INPC. They were told it was the same data analyzed in the report. Staff also asked for the report and were initially told that MSC was updating it and that they might be able to obtain it in a month. Staff asked for a version before updating and were denied. It was agreed at this meeting on July 23 that the respective experts should meet to discuss the way the data was collected to make sure everyone was looking at the same perimeters and issues when it was being reviewed. A meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 11, and Carolyn hopes this will be helpful information. Material Service Corporation was asked by INPC and IDNR to stop mining while staff looked at their data to determine whether or not it was going to have an impact on the Fen. Material Service Corporation said that they would bring a request to stop mining to the attention of their President as well as others within the company. On July 27, 1998 staff learned that MSC was not going to stop mining at this time. One of the positive things that did come out of the meeting was that MSC said that they have no plans to mine closer than 250 feet of the Nature Preserve boundary until they receive further information from their consultants as to whether or not that particular portion is going to have an impact. The permit that they have from the Office of Mines and Minerals provides that they can mine up to within 50 feet of the nature preserve boundary. Initially, there was 500 feet from the boundary and now they have mined about 200 feet and there is 250 feet left. Carolyn asked if there was anyone present who would like to add anything or speak further to this issue.
Al Wilson, volunteer steward for Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve, stated that he has some very deep concerns. He reported for those who do not know the site, it consists of 240 acres of state dedicated nature preserve which contains 404 different species and is listed on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI). Sixteen of those species are threatened and endangered, six of which can only be found on one other site in Illinois. There are nine seeps with hanging fens, and the volunteers were recently asked to confirm that there was a floating mat there. Mr. Wilson confirmed that there is because two of the stewards fell through it. He has been the steward for a long time and he feels that the mat is another uncommon feature that they are fortunate to have in this preserve. Mr. Wilson stated that adjacent land use changes are a major concern and that the stewards have been successful in fighting some of the proposals. They are working with Gail Miller Consulting to try and alleviate problems caused by Crystal Lake doubling the size of its sanitary district which discharges into the stream that passes through the Nature Preserve. Gail has been successful in getting approximately 30 government agencies to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to work together using their expertise to try and ameliorate the problems that this is potentially going to cause. The McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) recently acquired 131 acres along the western fence line of the Nature Preserve. This land includes about 150 yards of seep with numerous hanging fens on it. Six threatened and endangered species have already been found there also. The Village has acquired some land adjoining the Nature Preserve and Mr. Wilson is working with the Village trustees to get that land dedicated as nature preserve also. The site includes woolly milkweed, which is an endangered species and Mr. Wilson thinks this is the sole surviving multiple colony location for the woolly milkweed. Its pollinator no longer exists, so it may flower, but it will not seed. He reported that Dr. Betz is working to hand pollinate the plant and hopes to conduct an experiment in his greenhouse to try and find an insect that will pollinate this. Mr. Wilson circulated to the Commissioners a listing of all of the conservation hours that have been spent at this location. This year the volunteers will exceed 4,000 man hours out there. Numerous walks have also been conducted to groups such as the Chicago Botanical Society, IDNR, TNC, classes from the Morton Arboretum and the U of I, as well the local residents and other botanists. This is a very well used prairie. The Nature Preserve has a well maintained trail system and there is a lot of restoration work going on. Mr. Wilson is concerned that the mining would directly impact the flow of water into the nine seeps at the Fen. Anything that could diminish the flow or dilute the mineral content of that water would adversely effect the many threatened and endangered species that grow in this unusual occurrence of highly alkaline mineral running water. Mr. Wilson stated that the Commission has given him all of the support that he could ask for and he further asked the Commission to keep up the good work so that this land is not destroyed.
Dr. Cynthia Skrukrud, Executive Director of the McHenry County Defenders, expressed her appreciation to the INPC and staff who over the last six months have spent countless hours on this issue. She explained that, as most everyone at this meeting knows, groundwater is important to the Fen. It can take time before impacts from mining going on today show up in changes in the water volume and chemistry. It is the water volume and chemistry that makes Lake in the Hills Fen a Fen. She stated that we are dealing with a real complex situation here, but have recognized this over time. Cynthia outlined the history of protection efforts at the site. She urged the Commission to continue their effort to protect Lake in the Hills Fen and she raised some questions for INPC staff to answer. She asked if the INPC staff is comfortable with Material Service Corporation's statement now that they will not mine within 250 feet of the Fen until more information is gathered, or is the Commission concerned that the Fen itself is already being affected by that mining? If the Commission feels that the Fen is already being affected, she feels that the Commission should consider an injunction against Material Service Corporation to stop the mining. She further asked what is the leadership of the IDNR thinking at this time about this issue. She also asked since Mr. Grosboll is at this meeting today, can help be given from the Governor on this issue if INPC feels this injunction to stop the mining is needed.
Carolyn Grosboll responded to Ms. Skrukrud's questions. She stated that the problem is that there is not enough conclusive data to show whether or not what MSC is mining now is going to have an impact on the Fen and that is the Commission's most immediate concern right now. MSC says they have an internal report showing that the mining is not going to have an impact, so staff would like to get this report and have experts at the Surveys review it so they can make a determination for themselves. Carolyn went on to answer Ms. Skrukrud's second question, with regard to MSC not mining within 250 feet of the Fen. At this point, Carolyn stated that she has to believe that what they are saying is the truth and the report that is being updated is supposed to include information or data as to whether or not it is okay to go ahead and mine beyond that 250 feet boundary. INPC will wait to see on this issue. Carolyn stated that IDNR has been very supportive of INPC's concerns and were very much a player at the meeting that was held with MSC on July 23, 1998. She further stated that the IDNR is very supportive with everything that INPC has been doing and they are a partner with INPC on this issue and are willing to take the lead on some of the potential actions that could be taken against MSC.
Ken Fiske, Consultant to INPC, stated that he has been familiar with this Fen since 1972 when he wrote a grant to acquire it. He is concerned that there is no recognition by the Commission that the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) holds an easement on this property. He did not hear the MCCD brought into the discussion. They hold the easement for managing the portion of the property owned by the Village and he feels that MCCD should be brought into this discussion if they in fact have not been. There are three entities involved: the Village, IDNR and the MCCD all of whom can issue an injunction if it is necessary. Mr. Fiske feels that MCCD, who with the support of the Village of Lake in the Hills, are responsible for managing the Fen and should be brought into the issue as soon as possible. Mr. Fiske stated that MCCD's easement is on the entire Fen with the exception of the portion that is owned by IDNR. That was a real negotiation effort that was made with the Village of Lake in the Hills and the MCCD certainly should be one of the players in this whole action, because they have the ability to get things done on a local basis that may be helpful to the Commission.
Mr. Goodman asked about the 10-year study from 1988-1998, how was the study agreed to, and are there any conditions that can be invoked if it was not actually completed according to an agreement.
Carolyn responded that Material Service Corporation owned the entire parcel including the Fen and back in the mid-1980's, began negotiations with both the IDNR as well as the Village of Lake in the Hills to sell the Fen property. MSC ultimately donated the actual Fen portion to the Village and IDNR was able to purchase what was described as a buffer area which is 500 feet from the delineation of the wetland. At the time, there were ongoing discussions regarding if the buffer should be 500 feet, 1,000 feet, 2,000 feet, or some other figure. No one could determine how much buffer was needed to protect the Fen. STS Consulting was hired by MSC to do some studies and ultimately it was decided that 500 feet was going to be the minimum buffer. There were discussions at that time and a Memorandum of Agreement between the Village, the old Illinois Department of Conservation and MSC was drafted, however, it was never executed. The MOA spelled out a monitoring program that was to be completed before MSC began mining. MSC is now mining, but the monitoring was not done in a way that alleviates our concerns. Since the MOA was never signed by MSC, there is no recourse other than the Commission and IDNR have a mountain of evidence of intent that there was an Agreement, which included monitoring; however, there is no signed Agreement.
Mr. Goodman commented that on August 5, 1997, this issue came before the Commission and the Commission wrote a letter to IDNR expressing its concern, because the consultation process was unsuccessful in this case and the permit to mine was issued. He feels that the Commission has a very important task and is struggling uphill now to stop what the consultation process was actually intended to alert us to and give us an opportunity to prevent. He feels that it is very important to note, although it will not solve the problem now, to remember that it was a failure of consultation that has led to this situation.
Mr. Wilson stated that when the land was incorporated into the Village of Lake in the Hills, part of that annexation agreement which was signed by the Village said that any future ordinances brought by the Village or generated by the Village would not apply to Material Service Corporation. However, he said that maybe the County would have some ability to apply their ordinances to alleviate this situation. He further stated that the early wells that were installed were supposed to be monitored by MSC. When Jim Miner and his staff at INHS started to do their monitoring, the wells were so rusted out that they had to get permission to use bolt cutters and remove the padlocks, so whatever data MSC comes up with he feels is very suspect.
Commissioner Fraker thanked Mr. Wilson for his presentation and stated that Mr. Wilson demonstrates again the talent and dedication of the volunteer stewardship network throughout the state. The time they spend at these sites is a very significant part of the preservation of the sites. It is a good reminder for everyone of that important work. Secondly, Commissioner Fraker stated that his background in conservation in Illinois is not only with the Commission, but The Nature Conservancy and those who have been involved in The Nature Conservancy as well as the Commission know that in a state like Illinois, there is not much pristine area left and there is a lot of economic development of every kind from mining to agriculture to manufacturing and so forth throughout the state. The whole effort depends on cooperation and many times we who care about the conservation movement and preservation are required to bite our lip and step back and compromise and give up some things that matter to us, because screaming and yelling doesn't get anywhere in Illinois, because so much of what happens here depends on the economic activity in the state. It is a constant matter of compromise and what concerns Commissioner Fraker about what the little bit he has seen of this is that there is no give on the other side and there is no compromise. The Commission's usual "let's sit down and reason" approach isn't working, because staff have clearly tried that. He feels it is time that the conservation movement, which is in part INPC and IDNR, should kick back. Gentle approaches and conversation has been tried and basically he feels their response is "well, we are going to keep digging, but what are you going to do about it" and this Fen is so valuable that we cannot let its destruction be threatened further.
Commissioner Fraker presented a resolution to the Commission. He also wants to ask Material Service Corporation to please not act this way, because the Commission wants to cooperate with them. The Commission knows that MSC has property rights that are entitled to respect, but the Commission's values are entitled to respect too. He again asked that MSC respect what matters to the Commission.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
In light of the continued refusal of Material Service Corporation to provide the necessary data to demonstrate that continued mining is not destructive to the Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve; and, in light of the fact that Material Service Corporation continues to mine notwithstanding the Commission's considered request that Material Service Corporation stop until they provide the data that supports their position; be it resolved that IDNR act at once to preserve the Fen and if immediate cooperation of Material Service Corporation is not forthcoming, that the Attorney General of the State of Illinois take appropriate legal action including seeking injunctive relief.
Carolyn reported that on July 22, 1998 INPC and IDNR were served a complaint
seeking a declaratory judgement brought by the Brookville Lutheran Cemetery
Association. The Association is an owner of a small cemetery prairie nature
preserve near Mt. Carroll in Carroll County, that was dedicated as a nature
preserve in 1984. The Association is seeking a determination by a judge as to
whether or not they have the authority to bury people within the Nature Preserve.
The dedication document that was provided back in 1984 makes a reference to
the Association's ability to "maintain plots and markers of existing graves,
or to use lots for burial purposes." The Natural Areas Preservation Act is clear
in stating that once an area is dedicated, lots cannot be conveyed for burial
purposes. However, if the lots had been conveyed prior to dedication, then burial
could occur in those areas. In this situation, the lots were not conveyed, however,
they were platted. The Cemetery Association feels that based upon the language
in their dedication document and the fact that these lots were platted, even
though they weren't conveyed, that they have the authority to bury people. The
Commission tried working out a solution to this situation. John Alesandrini
contacted Ed Stirling of the Natural Land Institute (NLI) and Mr. Stirling agreed
to do some landowner contact on the Commission's behalf regarding the possible
acquisition of one or two acres of farm land that is adjacent to the cemetery.
NLI would purchase the property and do a land swap with the Cemetery Association
so that the Cemetery Association could then use that area for burials and NLI
could get ownership of the prairie. Unfortunately, none of the landowners were
willing to sell their land. The Association has sued the Commission and the
Commission has written a letter to the Attorney General asking them to represent
the Commission in this action. Carolyn feels that the Commission has a good
case, but it will be a local judge and the issue is a difficult one. She will
continue to give updates as this issue progresses through the court system.
The final report Carolyn gave was an update of an issue that has been around for a very long time regarding natural areas within the Shawnee National Forest. Some of the Commissioners are aware of this issue, but there are several Commissioners that have not been on the Commission long enough to know the history involved, so she prepared a chronology to hand out which provided highlights on some background information as to what has occurred. When the Natural Areas Inventory was done in the late 1970's, 81 natural areas were identified on the Shawnee National Forest. These areas are owned by the U.S. Forest Service and in the early 1980's, the state began urging the Forest Service to recognize these areas and to begin managing them as natural areas. The state also urged recognition of these areas in a forest management plan which was a recent requirement under the federal laws. In 1991, a forest management plan to govern the Shawnee was proposed and provided that with a few exceptions, equestrian use was not to be allowed in the 81 natural areas. These areas represent under 5% of the entire forest, a very small area when you look at the entire forest. After a few appeals, this forest plan was ultimately adopted and is now considered to be law and governs the activities of the Shawnee. Despite the Forest Plan prohibiting equestrian use within these areas, equestrians created trails through some of the natural areas and horse camps were established on private land adjacent to the federal land which really increased the usage of some of these areas. In 1993, INPC staff began documenting the damage being caused by equestrian riders. The report was used to begin urging the Forest Service to close these areas to equestrian use. In 1994, Louise Odegaard, the Shawnee Forest Supervisor, announced that she would close these areas to equestrian use in accordance with the Forest Plan. The equestrians objected to the closures and as a result Congressman Poshard established a committee to begin looking into this. The committee ultimately identified 22 of the 81 areas that they agreed could be closed. These were areas that currently had no equestrian use in them. In 1995, once this committee had come up with the 22 areas that could be closed, Louise Odegaard indicated to Congressman Poshard that the Shawnee was going to close 40 areas. This group of 40 included the 22 areas identified by the committee as well as some Research Natural Areas, which under federal law, prohibits equestrian use. Also in 1995, coinciding with when Louise Odegaard indicated that she was going to close these 40 areas, the IDNR, TNC and INPC entered into a challenge cost-share agreement with the Forest Service to help them locate, delineate, and sign the natural area boundaries in these areas to be closed because it is a huge undertaking and it was recognized that they have limited staff to do these things. In 1996, INPC wrote a letter expressing concern about the status of these 40 closures because almost a year had gone by and they were not closed. The letter was written to the Forest Supervisor, the regional forester in Milwaukee, as well as under Secretary Jim Lyons from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, a grant from the Wildlife Preservation Fund was given for $5,000 to buy signs to mark the boundaries and indicate the closures. The Commission's letter was sent in November, 1996 and in January, 1997 Carolyn received a call from Forest Supervisor Odegaard who stated that they were closing those 40 areas to mechanized and motorized vehicle use, equestrian use, camping and open fires. After the closures, under the challenge cost-share agreement, INPC, TNC, and IDNR devoted a lot of time helping the Forest Service mark and sign boundaries of these areas. Last Fall, 27 other areas were identified by the Forest Service staff to be closed in the winter of 1997 and 1998. Based upon this identification, TNC, INPC and IDNR again assisted the Forest Service in delineating the boundaries. In early July, 1998 Judy Faulkner, Don McFall and Carolyn along with representatives of TNC and IDNR met with Forest Supervisor Odegaard to ask the status of these 27 areas that they assisted in marking the boundaries of. The Forest Supervisor confirmed that 24 of the 27 areas were ready to be closed; they had been marked and were mapped and everything was ready to go. However, we were told that the Forest Service has no intention of closing these areas until they have had an opportunity to designate trails within corridors of areas which the Forest Service grandfathered in the Plan. Carolyn reported that there were seven areas for equestrian users. To create trails through some of these areas, it may take up to three or more years because of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under NEPA, there is a detailed procedure that has to occur in order to locate a trail through an area. All the work that was done to mark these areas, may be for not because the paint is good for three years and then it washes off. No rational reason was given as to why these areas were not going to be closed. The good news is that the 40 areas that were closed in early 1997, have seen tremendous response. The vegetation is coming back and the areas are recovering very nicely. Carolyn stated that it is really frustrating that in the six years since the Forest Plan has been in effect specifically prohibiting equestrian use in the natural areas, less than half of the INAI areas have been closed. Most of the areas that have been closed never really had much traffic anyway. Carolyn recommended that the Commission write another letter to the Regional Forester, Forest Supervisor and Under Secretary of Agriculture Jim Lyons, urging immediate closure of these 24 areas. She feels that it was very effective the last time a letter was written from the Commission. Carolyn feels that it would be helpful if there was a resolution that could be included within that letter emphasizing what action the Commission did take and how important this issue is to the Commission.
Commissioner Pierce stated that he has been very involved with the Sierra Club in trying to close the natural areas to equestrian use, and coming from a family that owns 13 horses, he knows that there is a need for places to ride but natural areas are not a place for horses. He stated that equestrian use is totally incompatible.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Beattie, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission urgently and respectfully requests that the U.S. Forest Service expeditiously implement, as specified by law, those portions of the Forest Plan pertaining to the closure of natural areas to equestrian and other uses.
Don McFall, Deputy Director for Protection, reported on highlights of the ten
field staff since the last meeting. Steven Byers continues to be involved with
the Chicago Wilderness Recovery Plan Taskforce. He has brought a poster and
brochures for everyone to see. These items have been presented at a lot of events
to promote the activities of the Chicago Wilderness. Steven has also helped
plan the Conservation Design for Communities, a workshop which is hosted by
the Fox Valley Land Foundation.
Patti Malmborg has continued to work on the threats to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve from adjacent sand and gravel mining. She also reviewed the Kane County Stormwater Management Plan and provided the Commission's input. This involves early planning that will help protect wetlands and streams in Kane County.
John Alesandrini represented the Commission on two Conservation 2000 Ecosystem Partnerships: the Driftless Area Partnership in the Galena area in northwestern Illinois and the Sugar-Pecatonica River Partnership that is north of Rockford.
Brian Reilly negotiated three new Natural Heritage Landmarks (NHL) in Kendall County. Millington Railroad Fen NHL is a six-acre wetland site, Silver Springs Railroad Prairie NHL is a 12-acre prairie directly adjacent to a large prairie restoration at Silver Springs State Park, and Yorkville Railroad Prairie NHL is a 10-acre site adjacent to Yorkville Prairie Nature Preserve and Yorkville Prairie South Natural Heritage Landmark. The three NHL's are owned by Illinois RailNet of Ottawa. The NHL's are a result of the Commission's recommendation for staff to work towards protecting railroad prairies on active railroad lines in Illinois.
Angella Moorehouse negotiated a new Natural Heritage Landmark. Owned by Robert and Erma Diers of Ipava, Diers Seep Spring NHL is an 8-acre wetland tract located in Fulton County.
Tom Lerczak negotiated a new Natural Heritage Landmark in Marshall County. Bill and Mikes Prairie NHL, owned by Bill Baldwin of Sparland, is a one-third acre tract containing glacial drift hill prairie on the bluffs above the Illinois River. The new NHL is directly adjacent to the recently dedicated Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. Both the NHL and nature preserve will be managed as a unit.
Mary Kay Solecki spoke at the May 16 dedication ceremony for the Doris Westfall Prairie Restoration Nature Preserve in Vermilion County.
Debbie Newman negotiated a new Natural Heritage Landmark. A Quiet Place NHL, located in St. Clair County, is a 5-acre wooded tract owned by Thomas Barrett of Shreveport, Louisiana. This area was first signed up as a NHL in 1983 by Gilbert and Louise Lewis, neighbors and friends of Mr. Barrett. When Mr. Barrett bought the land he decided to continue to protect the area as the Lewis's had and re-enrolled the land into the NHL program. Debbie also organized and spoke at a dedication ceremony for Stemler Cave Nature Preserve on May 16, 1998.
Bob Edgin coordinated the IDNR's Ecoteam to clear brush and help restore two NHL's. The Ecoteams are funded by C2000 to provide stewardship on private lands.
Judy Faulkner assisted the IDNR in preparing a draft proposal to register much of the Cache River State Natural Area as a Land and Water Reserve. If IDNR accepts the proposal, this will be the largest area by far protected by one of INPC's programs.
Randy Heidorn, Deputy Director for Stewardship, gave an update on a request from the Forest Preserve District of Will County to construct a forced main sewer through Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve buffer. Since that time, the sewer company has found an alternative that will keep the sewer line out of the Nature Preserve. The Forest Preserve District subsequently has withdrawn the request.
Randy gave an update on the deer management plans in the nature preserves. At Goose Lake Prairie State Park which includes Goose Lake Prairie Nature Preserve, the program that was initiated in 1997 will be continued. The plan includes use of archery and shotgun hunting to take antlerless deer within the nature preserve. This program is the second year of a 3-year plan and will be evaluated in conjunction with the routine update of the management schedule for this site. Three other deer management plans are being developed and are very close to being presented to Commission staff for approval. Beall Woods State Park (Beall Woods Nature Preserve), Castle Rock State Park (George B. Fell Nature Preserve), and Starved Rock State Park (Starved Rock Nature Preserve) will have proposals very similar to that at Goose Lake Prairie. The program at these sites will not be implemented until at least 1999.
Lastly, Randy mentioned the Endangered Species lists revisions. At the last meeting of the Endangered Species Protection Board (Board), there were two list revisions approved. The plant list which had been out on review was given final approval. Randy brought copies of the plant list changes that he passed out to the Commissioners. He reported that at that same meeting, the Board proposed the animal list revisions. He also passed that list out to the Commissioners. He stated that there was a hearing on July 15, 1998. Comments were received at that hearing and the record was open until July 29, 1998. Randy indicated that Sue Lauzon, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Protection Board, wanted to make sure that INPC staff and Commissioners had a chance to provide input. He urged staff and Commissioners to forward any comments they may have to him so that he would be able to compile them into a letter.
160-7) IDNR Staff Report
Carl Becker gave an update on some activities of IDNR relative to acquistions. He began by stating that during the course of the budgeting for last year, it became evident that the Real Estate Transfer Tax, which is the source of revenue for the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund, was performing significantly above projections. IDNR recognized the growth and was able to get the increase of $1.2 million put into the budget of the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund for the purpose of land acquisition. He stated that the moneys will be added to the funds that will be used to acquire land for the Fiscal Year 1999.
The IDNR has acquired or optioned five natural area tracts totalling 350 acres since the last Commission meeting. A 76-acre tract known as the Mueller tract was acquired in McHenry County which is IDNR's first acquisition at Black Crown Marsh. This is a larger project in which there will be many more acquisitions or other protection measures taken to protect this 600-acre wetland area. Currently, it supports populations of nine endangered or threatened wetland dependent bird species.
A 57-acre tract was acquired by IDNR at Rock Cave in Effingham County. This addition is directly adjacent to Rock Cave Nature Preserve and will protect more of the forests and sandstone cliffs in that area.
IDNR optioned the 37-acre Geissler Savanna in Hancock County. This rare example of original oak savanna is in west-central Illinois. It was pre-acquired by Save the Prairie Society through the Natural Areas Rescue Fund.
Two additions to Prairie Ridge State Natural Area were optioned by IDNR; 117 acres in Jasper County and 80 acres in Marion County. This land will be restored to grassland to provide habitat for endangered grassland birds such as the prairie chicken and upland sandpiper which are featured species there.
Finally, from time to time at Commission meetings, Mr. Becker has given updates on the Teaming with Wildlife Initiative. This initiative has taken a significant step forward in recent days and he gave a brief report to make the Commission aware of what is happening and stated he will be asking for help from the Commissioners as individuals and also as a Commission. Congressmen Young from Alaska and Tauzin from Louisiana in the House and Senator Mary Landrieu in the Senate from Louisiana have proposed the Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 1998. This has a number of purposes. Teaming With Wildlife has been an initiative and ongoing for a number of years identifying a user fee in the form of excise tax on outdoor recreation equipment. Needless to say, this has made a lot of headway, but still has a lot of detractors. Congressman Young from Alaska has always been trying to find a way to get this passed, and when this proposal came up he asked that Teaming with Wildlife be a consideration. Currently on shore and near shore oil reserves, royalties and lease money is shared 50% between the federal government and the states. The outer continental shelf oil royalty and lease money currently all goes to the federal treasury. This proposal would dedicate half of that money for conservation. These leases and royalties generate between $4 and $5 billion a year. 50% would still go to the federal treasury. The proposal calls for 27% or $1 billion to be dedicated to the Coastal Impact Assistance Program. There are 35 states that have coastal waters. That includes the Great Lakes and includes the state of Illinois. These funds would be utilized for the purposes of wetland preservation, wetland reconstruction, restoration, and such things that would be of interest to us such as beach nourishment, which is always an issue at Illinois Beach. IDNR would be eligible to get certain funds out of that allocation which is based on distance to oil production and the amount of coastline you have. 13% will be dedicated, not subject to appropriation, for a state-side LAWCON-like program. The allocation would be $520 Million on an annual basis. Again allocated by a formula that has to do with area of the state, the amount of open land and recreation land it has relative to other states. The important part about it is that it be dedicated not subject to appropriation. LAWCON in the past has always been subject to appropriation; sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't, and Illinois hasn't been getting any for state-side LAWCON programs for five or six years or maybe longer. 10% would be allocated to Teaming With Wildlife, again dedicated not subject to appropriation, and that would be $400 Million. Illinois is solidly behind Teaming With Wildlife, it has been endorsed by Governor Edgar, it has been endorsed by Conservation Congress 3, it has been endorsed most recently by the Illinois General Assembly through Senate Joint Resolution 63, unanimously by both the House and Senate. It has also been endorsed by 81 organizations and businesses in Illinois. Illinois has a strong support for this program. This proposal will be introduced very shortly in both the House and Senate, probably yet this session. They do not expect it to get passed during this session, but do expect to get certain things out of the way such as hearings. It will be reintroduced in January and hopefully acted on very quickly.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked a question regarding the money in this year's budget. She asked if the $1.2 Million that was put into the budget document for land acquisition can only be spent for land acquisition.
Carl Becker answered "yes" to Comissioner O'Keefe's question.
160-8) Election of Officers - INPC Nominating Committee Report
Chair Ranney introduced Commissioner Beattie, who is Chair of INPC's Nominating Committee. Commissioner Beattie was pleased to report that the nominating committee has conferred and has secured the agreement on the part of current INPC officers to be re-nominated to INPC as officers.
It was moved by Beattie, seconded by Nevling and carried that the following Commissioners be re-elected as Officers of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Vicky Ranney, Chair; Guy Fraker, Vice-Chair; and Don Pierce, Secretary.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated as a point of information that the positions for the Commission are appointed by the Governor. There are at this moment no current openings on its 9-member board. She also stated that the nominating committee has had some discussion about what kinds of people they are looking for, the qualifications of people to be Commissioners and have identified two specific matters of consideration. They are looking for someone with a strong background in public relations and they are also looking for someone from southern Illinois who can assist particularly in INPC's efforts with the concerns in the Shawnee National Forest.
160-9) Election of Consultants
Carolyn Grosboll recommended re-election of INPC's current consultants: Dr. Robert Betz, Bruce Boyd, Marilyn Campbell, Kenneth V. Fiske, Dr. Alfred Koelling, Al Pyott, Dr. Ken Robertson, Valerie Spale and Ed Stirling. She also recommended former Commissioner Gerald Adelmann of Openlands Project be added as a consultant to the Commission.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Beattie and carried that the following be elected as consultants to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Gerald Adelmann, Dr. Robert Betz, Bruce Boyd, Marilyn Campbell, Kenneth V. Fiske, Dr. Alfred Koelling, Al Pyott, Dr. Ken Robertson, Valerie Spale and Ed Stirling.
The Commission took a 20-minute lunch break. Chair Ranney thanked the Prairie Crossing Farm for preparing lunch. She stated that the farmers were up very early this morning picking lettuce for this meal. She announced that this is an organic farm run by Tom and Denny Peterson. They are interns for the summer. She also thanked Mary Ann Berkler and Kim Buss for preparing and serving the meal.
160-10) LaSalle Co. - Sandy Ford Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Brian Reilly presented a proposal for the registration of Sandy Ford as a land and water reserve. Sandy Ford is a 200-acre site located in LaSalle County, northwest of Streator. Two major ravine systems, created by two streams that flow into the Vermilion River, dissect the area and create considerable local relief as great as 90 to 100 feet. The site has a rich flora that contains Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), white pine (Pinus strobus), and the state-threatened white cedar (Thuja occidentalis). The Vermilion River, which is along the proposed reserve's west boundary, is habitat for the state-endangered greater redhorse (Moxostoma valenciennesi) and the state-threatened river redhorse (M. carinatum). Approximately 170 acres of the site is forested, including mesic, dry-mesic, and floodplain communities. Hill prairies are present on the sandstone cliffs. The site is used for hiking, outdoor education, and nature study. This site is owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Beattie, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Sandy Ford in LaSalle County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
160-11) Union & Johnson Co. - Cedar-Draper's
Bluff Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Bob Lindsay presented a proposal for the registration of Cedar-Draper's Bluff as a land and water reserve. Cedar-Draper's Bluff consists of 741.1 acres in Union and Johnson counties near Goreville. There are two tracts, Draper's Bluff which lies along the Union-Johnson County line in Union County, and Cedar Bluff about ½ mile east of Draper's Bluff in Johnson County. Both Cedar Bluff and Draper's Bluff are part of a massive sandstone cliff system that runs across southern Illinois from the Mississippi River to the Ohio River. Cedar Bluff (INAI #359) and Draper's Bluff (INAI #967) were recognized by the INAI for their sandstone cliffs over 100 feet high containing exceptional cliff communities and pockets of old growth mesic and dry-mesic forest communities. These sites are owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Both areas are used for hiking, bird watching, hunting, rock climbing, and general nature study.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Cedar-Draper's Bluff in Union and Johnson Counties, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
160-12) Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham
Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Natural Land Institute, Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. The Natural Land Institute proposes to dedicate eight additional lots (approximately 0.67 acres) to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. The proposed additions are located within the designated boundaries of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory site (INAI #400) for Gensburg-Markham Prairie as well as the boundaries established for the Gensburg-Markham Prairie National Natural Landmark. A preservation strategy for this site was first articulated in a Master Plan approved by the INPC at its 95th Meeting in August, 1983 (Resolution #75), which called for protection of the prairie extending north and south of Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve is part of an archipelago of four prairies that are collectively referred to as the Indian Boundary Prairies, and the last surviving remnants of the vast prairie that once extended for miles along Lake Michigan and the Lake Plain Section of old Lake Chicago (Schwegman et al. 1973). The INPC staff recommends that the 0.67 acres identified in the proposal for dedication be granted preliminary approval for dedication as an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve.
Steven acknowledged Mr. Ed Stirling, Executive Director of the Natural Land Institute and Mr. Gordon Eggers, President of the Natural Land Institute.
Steven shared the history of the efforts that have taken place to protect Gensburg-Markham Prairie which date back to the 1960's when some of the friends of the Commission, Dr. Robert Betz and Floyd Swink, began to botanize in this particular area. Steven provided a history section in the proposal which describes the role of the variety of the different agencies, creation of a local group to protect the prairie, and the leadership that has been provided by The Nature Conservancy, the Natural Land Institute, and a variety of other partners interested in protection at Gensburg-Markham Prairie. The larger portion of the prairie, which is approximately 110 acres was conveyed by the Gensburg brothers to The Nature Conservancy. Additional tracts were acquired and in 1980 Gensburg-Markham Prairie was dedicated as a nature preserve. Steven provided in the proposal for dedication a number of different appendices that document the involvement of INPC's efforts to protect Gensburg-Markham Prairie.
It was moved by Beattie, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
160-13) LaSalle Co. - Lower Fox River-Wedron
Palisades Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Wedron Silica Company, Brian Reilly presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of a one-mile long sandstone cliff on the east bank of the Fox River as the Lower Fox River - Wedron Palisades Nature Preserve. This rock wall is one of 14 natural areas along the lower Fox River. The palisades were identified on the INAI (#676) due to the occurrence on the edge of the cliff of the state-threatened northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis). The lower Fox River is a high-quality natural area because of the abundance of plants, animals and geologic features surrounding the River. The River was identified on the INAI (#1444) as an "outstanding example of the rivers and creeks of the Illinois River watershed." The lower Fox River provides habitat for the state-endangered greater redhorse (Moxostoma valenciennesi), and the state-threatened river redhorse (M. carinatum).
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Beattie, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of the Lower Fox River-Wedron Palisades Nature Preserve in LaSalle County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
(160-14) McHenry Co. - Wilson Tract Addition of
Buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve, Dedication
Amy Horstman presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of the Wilson Tract addition of buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. This 31.47-acre parcel proposed for dedication as buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve was purchased by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in January, 1998 with funding from the Illinois Natural Areas Acquisition Fund and CorLands. Pistakee Bog received final approval for dedication at the Commission's 55th Meeting in April, 1975 (Resolution #378). The proposed addition serves as an important recharge zone for Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. Remnant marsh, sedge meadow and mesic prairie communities on the Wilson tract are hydrologically connected to the Pistakee basin via a wide band of hydric soils. Pistakee Bog was recognized by the INAI (#983) and the Nature Preserve contains high-quality forested bog, marsh, pond, sedge meadow, and calcareous floating mat communities. Both Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve and nearby Volo Bog Nature Preserve are located in the Volo Bog State Natural Area. Both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Nature Preserves Commission staff recommend preliminary approval of this 31.47 acre parcel as buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve.
Amy reported that the tract just immediately east is currently for sale and IDNR is negotiating that property. The property just to the north between the Wilson Tract and Pistakee Bog is an abandoned easement for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). It was supposed to be a highway expansion, but that easement is abandoned and it is hoped that at some point IDNR will acquire that. Randy Heidorn clarified that Brandenburg Bog is an addition to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Beattie, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of the Wilson Tract addition of buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked Amy what kinds of discussions has IDNR had with
IDOT in terms of managing their easement.
Amy Horstman stated that no formal management agreement has been made with IDOT at this point, but that the easement is burned and managed along with the IDNR land. There are three acres of the easement property that is INAI quality.
Commissioner O'Keefe also asked what kinds of discussions has IDNR had with IDOT in acquiring the land.
Carl Becker stated that IDOT will probably transfer that to IDNR at some time, and the Director did write a letter to IDOT a year ago requesting that transfer. He received a response that at this time it would not be possible.
160-15) Whiteside Co. - Harmony Hills Nature Preserve, Dedication
John Alesandrini presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Harmony Hills as a nature preserve. Owned by Ruby N. Wirth, Harmony Hills is a 46.19-acre tract of dry sand prairie, sand blowouts and sand forest located in Whiteside County. The site is characteristic of the Mississippi River Section of the Illinois River and Mississippi River Sand Areas Natural Division. It harbors an Illinois endangered plant, the false heather (Hudsonia tomentosa), and an Illinois threatened plant, the umbrella sedge (Cyperus grayioides). This site also includes approximately three-fourths of the 61-acre Prairie Trails INAI site (#1104). It is the owner's desire and intent to protect this site in perpetuity.
John gave a brief profile of the owner, Ruby Wirth. She acquired this property in 1977 and this has been part of her family for many years prior to when she acquired it. She is committed and dedicated to the protection of the site. She is elderly and is not in very good health. Over the years John has enjoyed talking to her, as his predecessors Lydia Meyer and Gary Burnett did, but she has been reluctant to make a final decision about protection. John was pleasantly surprised about six months ago when he was contacted by Ms. Wirth's attorney, who said she would like to dedicate this as a nature preserve and she would like to make arrangements to bequeath it in her will to IDNR. He was less pleasantly surprised about a week ago when he called her and she said she had changed her mind and decided not to dedicate this property. Knowing that preliminary approval was coming up at this meeting, the owner and her attorney had initiated reviewing the Instrument of Dedication and the legal document for this dedication. She did not agree with the following wording within a paragraph of the document which states: "the property described herein shall remain as one tract whether under single or multiple ownership and shall not be divided or subdivided except with the permission of the Nature Preserves Commission." John stated that the term "subdivided" caught her eye and she interpreted that to mean that INPC could if they so choose, subdivide her property, and she did not want that to ever happen so she changed her mind.
John requested that the Commission pass a resolution giving preliminary approval which allows him to go back to Ms. Wirth and explain that INPC did look at the ecological resources and have agreed with their preliminary approval that this site does in fact belong in the Illinois Nature Preserves System. Given that, he can discuss further with her what that statement in the Instrument of Dedication means or perhaps even discuss at the staff level whether some of the wording can be changed to suit her needs and make the dedication actually a little stronger than it would normally be. John suggested that the wording "except with the permission of the Nature Preserves Commission" be left out of the Instrument of Dedication. He will continue to talk with her and find out if with a better understanding of the document and perhaps this change in the document she would reconsider dedicating her property. By requesting preliminary approval today, John stated that he can assure her that ecologically the site does fit into the Nature Preserve System and that the Commission is more than willing to take some steps to try to relieve her fears that the Commission may someday subdivide her property which will not happen.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Beattie, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for dedication of Harmony Hills Nature Preserve in Whiteside County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
Commissioner Fraker commended this property and stated that this is an example
of the Nature Preserves Act working at its best when preservation is accomplished
with private lands and without the state expending funds for acquisition. This
also shows the unselfish attitude of individuals to give their property for
this permanent use.
John added that it illustrates what a big decision this is for many people, especially private landowners.
Commissioner Fraker asked if she would be able to attend the meeting if this was given final dedication.
John did not think so because of her poor health.
Commissioner Fraker asked if it would make a difference if staff video-taped the presentation for her since she will not be able to attend the meeting.
John stated that he thought this was a good idea and he would mention it to the landowner when he talks to her again.
160-16) Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 12)
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission conferred preliminary approval for the dedication of 10.56 acres as an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve at the Commission's 138th Reconvened Meeting in March, 1993 (Resolution #1161). That proposal included parcels owned by the Natural Land Institute (NLI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). Subsequently, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission conferred final approval at its 139th Meeting for parcels owned by the NLI located outside of a Tax Increment Financing District (Resolution #1180). The Commission also conferred final approval for parcels owned by TNC (Resolution #1182), and NEIU (Resolution #1179). Now, the NLI seeks final approval for dedication of eight lots totaling 0.67 acres located within the Tax Increment Financing District as an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. The proposed additions are located within the designated boundaries of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #400) for Gensburg-Markham Prairie. A high-quality native mesic and wet-mesic prairie which supports 380 plant species including the federally-listed eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea), 350 insect species, 13 reptile and amphibian species, 21 nesting bird species, and 12 mammal species. The INPC staff recommends final approval for dedication of 0.67 acres as an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
160-17) Lake Co. - Mullaney Addition as Nature
Preserve Buffer to Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval of the Mullaney addition as nature preserve buffer to Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of four separate tracts, totaling approximately 4.6 acres as additions of buffer to Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve at the Commission's 153rd Meeting in October, 1996 (Resolution #1333). The four tracts owned by Dino Guerin (0.75 acres); Deb Marlewski (0.68 acres); Al and Teresa Tyde (3 acres); and Jim Mullaney (0.18 acres) are located within the INAI boundary for Wauconda Bog (INAI #1002). Final approval for dedication was granted to Deb Marlewski (Resolution #1343) and Al and Teresa Tyde (Resolution #1344) at the Commission's 154th Meeting in February, 1997. Jim Mullaney is now seeking final approval of his tract as an addition to Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve. Wauconda Bog has been recognized on both the INAI (for the extant high-quality forested bog and marsh communities) and the U.S. National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission staff recommends that the 0.22-acre parcel identified in the Instrument of Dedication be granted final approval for dedication as nature preserve buffer to Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of the Mullaney addition as nature preserve buffer to Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that there were several other properties that are
U.S. National Park Service, National Natural Landmarks. She asked Steve to explain
Steve deferred that question to Don but mentioned that this designation was a fairly active program many years ago where the National Park Service actually had staff and worked with different states to help identify tracts that might be of national significance. He stated that at the time the thought was that this would provide additional awareness and appreciation and lead to ultimate protection of some of these sites through some type of formal protection.
Don stated that this is a voluntary program coordinated by the National Park Service. The landmark program compliments the national park system by recognizing the best examples of natural communities that are not protected in the national park system. One of the goals of the landmark program is to represent the full biodiversity of the United States. Natural areas in Illinois that are designated as National Natural Landmarks are recognized as having significance on the federal level.
160-18) McHenry Co.-- Wittman Addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Deferred at the owners request.
160-19) Will Co.-- Addition to Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Forest Preserve District of Will County, Brian Reilly presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of approximately 28 acres as an addition to Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve. Romeoville Prairie received final approval for dedication at the Commission's 100th Meeting in July, 1984 (Resolution #816). The addition contains Grade C dolomite prairie and sedge meadow, critical to the management and viability of the Nature Preserve. This addition was recognized as part of the Romeoville Prairie by the INAI (#936). The area is part of a large complex of natural land known as the Romeoville Prairie Natural Area. This natural area is 390 acres with a large diversity of plants and animals. More than 317 native plant species occur in the natural area, among these are the federally endangered leafy prairie clover (Dalea foliosa), and state endangered marsh St. John's wort (Triadenum virginicum). Three state threatened plants also occur in the natural area. The natural area has contributed to the preservation of federally sensitive species including the federally endangered Hines emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) and the restoration of the federally threatened lakeside daisy (Hymenoxys acaulis var. glabra). This addition to Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve received preliminary approval for dedication at INPC's 159th Meeting on May 5, 1998 (Resolution #1413).
Brian Reilly introduced Marcy DeMauro with the Forest Preserve District of Will County. Brian commended Marcy as he stated that she has been very instrumental in preserving many of the natural areas throughout Will County and dedicating them as nature preserves.
It was moved by Beattie, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve in Will County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
160-20) Winnebago Co.-- Howard D. Colman Dells
Nature Preserve, Dedication
John Alesandrini presented Howard D. Colman Dells for final approval for dedication as a nature preserve. The proposed nature preserve is a portion of an area six miles southwest of Rockford, along Hall Creek, known historically as the Dells of Rockford. It is immediately adjacent to Severson Dells Nature Preserve (also in Winnebago County) and is located in the Freeport Section of the Rock River Hill Country Natural Division of Illinois. The 54.69 acres include a winding section of Hall Creek and its narrow floodplain, three dolomite exposures (dells) along the creek supporting dolomite cliff vegetation, approximately forty acres of dry-mesic ravines and upland woods, and one Illinois threatened species, rice grass (Oryzopsis racemosa). The proposed preserve was donated to the Natural Land Institute (NLI) of Rockford, in 1997. It is NLI's intent to dedicate the 54.69-acre tract as an Illinois Nature Preserve in accordance with the wishes of the donor, Mrs. Dorothy Colman Wallace. Dedication of the tract will complement the adjoining Severson Dells Nature Preserve and will complete protection of the unique dells area. The Commission granted preliminary approval for the dedication of Howard D. Colman Dells Nature Preserve at its 159th Meeting on May 5, 1998 (Resolution #1414).
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Howard D. Colman Dells, as a nature preserve in Winnebago County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 20 of the Agenda for the 160th Meeting.
160-21) Will Co.-- Hickory Creek Barrens
Nature Preserve: Proposal to Move Historic Structure into Nature Preserve Buffer
Marcy DeMauro of the Forest Preserve District of Will County is requesting on behalf of the New Lenox Historical Society that the Commission approve a phase 1 concept plan for the relocation of the historic Schmuhl School to dedicated buffer at Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve. The proposed move is to an area that has been approved as a public access area as part of the dedication document. Schmuhl School is currently located across the street from the preserve. Built in 1922, the school is a one-room brick building and is approximately 1,000 square feet in size. It has been in continuous use since then. It had one addition in 1956 when three classrooms were added on. However, this past was the last year that school will be conducted at this site. The New Lenox School District has determined the building to be too outdated to be upgraded and they have built a new school elsewhere. The property is being sold to a developer who intends to demolish the building. In an effort to save the original portion of the building, the New Lenox Historical Society began discussions with the school district last year and the school district agreed to allow the relocation of the building based on two conditions: 1) the relocation plans had to be finalized by the fall of this year, and 2) the Historic Society had to 100% fund the relocation. Since July, 1997, the Historic Society has been working to find a suitable location that retains the historic context. They had evaluated several alternatives, but determined the best option would be to move the historic building to the FPDWC's proposed future public access area in Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve. They determined this to be the most desirable because the structure maintains the highest locational integrity by remaining near the intersection of Schoolhouse Road and Route 30 and also the short moving distance of only about 500 feet would significantly reduce the cost. Earlier this year the Historic Society contacted the FPDWC with their proposal.
The FPDWC looked at the proposal with respect to District plans and with respect to the dedication document to determine if it was compatible. After that review staff determined that the proposal to relocate the historic structure was compatible with the stated preservation, restoration, management and development goals for the preserve. The District feels the proposed relocation would not significantly increase the intended use for the nature preserve. The completion of the Old Plank Road Trail, which is a 22-mile trail that goes from Matteson and Park Forest into Joliet and is included in the dedication proposal, would have more of an effect on the proposed usage of that preserve. Hickory Creek is a designated major trail head with an internal network of trails within the preserve that will connect to the Old Plank Road Trail. The proposed historic structure will not significantly increase the site usage from that caused by the planned trail.
Marcy reviewed what the FPD's intended use of the site was when the site was dedicated. When dedicated, the proposal included a preserve vison that reserved the right to develop trails and the public access area in four distinct phases. Schoolhouse Road is one of the four phases described and includes an entrance road, a parking lot, site amenities, wells, shelter and trails. Specifically, they indicated that the trails which were to be developed were for interpretive and educational programming for the restoration that would occur on the site, but would also physically link into the internal network within the 1,800-acre preserve. Specifically, the concept plan for removal and relocation shows two phases which occupies about 3.6 acres of the preserve. Both phases are being shown, however the FPD is only asking for approval of Phase I at this time. Phase I is the relocation of the school with an entrance road coming into the site, a 23-space parking lot with a designated drop-off area, concrete walk-way and ADA ramps to the building. It would include a detention area with vegetative swails and would include some berming along Route 30 and the parking lot to screen those views from those areas. Lastly it would include a septic field. The Historic Society intends to convert the school house into a small local museum that holds both cultural and historic artifacts from the area. The museum, intended to be free to the public, would be open on weekends and for special events. It would be staffed entirely by volunteers and will be maintained either by the Historic Society or the New Lenox Park District.
Based on discussions with the Commission staff, two concerns were identified. Staff felt the museum should incorporate interpretation of the site specifically for the restoration work that the FPDWC would be doing, and any educational programming that would be done on the site. Marcy feels this is something that can be readily accommodated. The second issue was to investigate eliminating the septic field in favor of sewer and water tap-on. The FPD has checked into this and the nearest tie in is 300 feet south of U.S. Route 30 off of Schoolhouse Road. This would require a sewer extension of 800 linear feet including boring under Route 30 which would be cost prohibitive. The New Lenox Historical Society knows that the Forest Preserve District's permission will only be granted if the Commission approves this proposal along with any conditions that INPC may place on the plan.
Randy stated from a legal perspective, the Commission certainly has the authority to go ahead and approve this as an activity assuming that there is some benefit to the resources within the preserve. In this case, if the FPDWC is including interpretation for the restoration which was the original intent of this area, this would be legal under the Commission's rules. From the perspective of how the Commission has acted in the past on these kinds of issues, Randy stated that this is a new precedent. INPC has allowed historic structures in other preserves, however, they were all included at the time of dedication. This is new since the original document at this site really did not include anything but an access to the trail. So there is an expansion of the purpose of what this buffer is going to be doing to include historic preservation. Biologically, the impact is going to be the reduction of the size of the area that will be restored, any potential increase in use intensity and possibly there is an area that a septic field will be placed in. From a biological point of view, those changes are probably not going to impact the resource the preserve was set aside for. The policy question that the Commission needs to address is if it is appropriate to incorporate a historic preservation into buffer of a nature preserve where this use or cultural resources was not anticipated at the time of dedication.
Chair Ranney stated that she is in favor of this policy and personally feels that preservation of human history goes hand in hand with preservation of natural history and as an example, this barn that the meeting is being held in, was going to be torn down by developers, but was moved to this location to be used again. Ranney reported that even closer parallel the little school house next door was the Wright School house which was located approximately ½ mile away on Casey Road in Grayslake. It was moved to this site and it goes very well with the natural areas restoration that has been going on at Prairie Crossing.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked Marcy DeMauro what other sites in the FPD were considered for this particular use.
Marcy stated that this is the only site that is in New Lenox and the Historic Society found no other alternative sites. One of their primary goals was to maintain as much historic integrity as possible and that is why this site was always their first alternative. When they first contacted the FPDWC last year, the FPDWC told them that because this was just given approval as nature preserve, they asked them to find another location. The Historic Society came back nine months later and said they have tried and they still felt this was the best site.
Commissioner O'Keefe is concerned about the precedent and stated there are so many wonderful sites that Openlands Project has been so involved in saving that have been so enhanced by the historic buildings that are on those sites. She really appreciates how complimentary those two things can be, but because this is a nature preserve, she questions whether it really is a similar situation to the preservation of for example, this barn at Prairie Crossing. It seems like there is a significant loss of area, several acres when you take in the parking that is required for it. She thinks when nature preserves are dedicated which are 1 acre or less occasionally, it troubles her to lose the value of the preserve quality land here.
Marcy responded that one of the reasons that the FPD has come forward with this proposal to the Commission was that the proposed developed area is not impacting any of the preserve resources. This is dedicated buffer, the current vegetation is old field, it is goldenrod, common milkweed, queen ann's lace, and if you look at concept management plan, there is an area that is identified as perennial field/recreationl. There is an area even at the time of dedication, that the FPD proposed to always keep as perennial field because it's amendable to mowing and in association of where the public access is going to be. This facility is located within that area on the management plan. The FPD is not really taking away from any of the area that was intended to be restored as part of the nature preserve buffer.
Commissioner Nevling stated that he is concerned about setting a precedent and he feels that if the Commission approves the move of the school house, that the Commission needs to make a point in the record that any other potential moves of historic structures really need to be taken up on a case by case basis. In another situation in the past year where Dr. Nevling had some control over land, he was astonished that one of the most frequent questions that came up was moving an historic house onto the piece of property, and once that happens, people start coming out of the woodwork with historic houses. He feels this is a really serious issue.
Chair Ranney asked if the Commission would like to make a motion to accept the Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve proposal to move the Schmuhl School into nature preserve buffer with the condition that future location of historic structures be carefully considered on a case by case basis.
Commissioner Pierce stated that he would be opposed to this proposal if it was in the nature preserve and not the buffer, and he would also be opposed to this if there was not going to be any interpretation of the natural features but to give up some goldenrod field for the benefit of educating people about nature, he feels that there is more to be gained than lost and with those qualifications, Commissioner Pierce is very supportive of this proposal.
Commissioner O'Keefe would like to see somehow in the motion the differentiation between the buffer and the preserve really is critical and she is reluctant to support the motion at all although she will support the amendment, but perhaps she would feel more comfortable supporting it if she knew this was certainly the distinguishing factor here.
Commissioner Fraker asked if this conceptual management plan was adopted before the Commission acted on this.
Marcy reported that it was part of the dedication document.
Commissioner Fraker would like to see this action noted that this area was designated for not only as buffer but also for perennial field/recreation.
Randy pointed out that if this was not buffer, then the Commission could not legally do this. If this was nature preserve, the Commission would have to go through a takings situation.
Commissioner Fraker stated that the purpose of buffer is not to provide a place for buildings under most circumstances.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that the point of buffer is indeed to act as a buffer and that the development of this property simply means that something else going further into the property becomes the buffer and it means that the management of the preserve itself because development is closer than it would have been without the buffer so it is troubling.
Chair Ranney asked how many cases are there where there is environmental education center in a buffer.
Randy responded that there a couple of nature preserve where there are buildings such as: Funks Grove and Olin, where there are septic fields and LP tanks, but these were approved at the time of dedication and the Commission was aware of going into the dedication.
Valerie Spale stated that the Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve, before it was finally dedicated, had two lots set aside, outside of the nature preserve that are part of the 80 acres that are still owned by Save the Prairie Society upon which sits an 1852 farmhouse. The two original rooms of the farmhouse were the first Lutheran school in Proviso Township and the teachers living quarters. That building is owned by the Westchester Historical Society and they are now finalizing plans after many long years of frustration to begin the restoration of that house will be used as a nature center and a museum to the Wolf Road Prairie. Although the land was never dedicated, it is within the natural areas boundaries and will be a very valuable resource for the area because there will be displays on natural areas and will be an orientation center for groups and students coming to the nature preserve for tours and conservation education. It is an inholding that is owned by Save the Prairie Society, but the concept is very similar in that it offers an opportunity to bring people to a natural area to a nature preserve for conservation education and give students an orientation and historical information.
Commissioner Pierce asked if the school or the septic fields or anything related to this school is going to hurt any of the core values of the nature preserve.
Randy responded that this will not hurt the preserve at all assuming that everything is put together as described in the plan. This area is already scheduled to have the parking lot development and those kinds of things associated with the trail head. One could argue whether intensity of the use will increase, but it will have minimal impact on what the reason the preserve was set aside for.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
Given the conceptual plan that was submitted at the time of dedication, the Commission approves the location of the Schmuhl School into nature preserve buffer of Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve as long as there is some prairie restoration interpretation at the school and further with the condition that this resolution does not set a precedent and that all future such requests will be determined on a case by case basis.
160-22) Johnson Co. - Heron Pond-Little Black Slough
Nature Preserve, Update on Erosion Control
Randy Heidorn gave an update on the erosion control project at Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Nature Preserve. He reported there is not much difference since the last update. The contractor mobilized to go out and do the gabion work, unfortunately it started raining and they had to demobilize and pull out because the water was too high in the river. Since the work was suspended back in December, there hasn't been any damages caused by the delay. Randy has been told that as soon as it dries out enough that they can get in there, remember they are working actually in the river, it will take about three weeks to complete the work. The other item, some work has been completed at the site - the bridge that had been washed out, that bridge has now been replaced. The trail is again open however, they are not widely publicizing the fact that the area is open with press releases, because they would really like to get the bank stabilization done before they get a lot of people coming in.
160-23) Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve & North Dunes Nature Preserve, Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Randy gave a brief update on the asbestos containing material at Illinois Beach State Park, particularly in the North Dunes and Illinois Beach Nature Preserves. He prepared a detailed update including some press releases which were given to the Commissioners, and in light of the hour, he informed the Commissioners that he would be happy to address any questions they may have after reviewing this report. There were no questions.
160-24) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Mr. Goodman gave a brief update on Lyman Woods and he presented a suggestion to the Commission. He indicated that he noticed the Commission has somewhere around 50 partially dedicated or approved nature preserves in addition to the Commission's 270 plus dedicated nature preserves. He stated that the Commission also has a growing number of registration areas that have significant features that should be protected. He suggested that the Commission and staff consider a procedure by which these areas would be added to the INAI list in their own right. He understands that all of the other nature preserves are already on that list, but the partially dedicated or approved areas are not. He stated that the preliminary dedication does not qualify for the list except if it has an endangered or threatened species on it, and the registration areas are not necessarily on the list.
Mr. Goodman stated with respect to Lyman Woods, on July 20, 1998 the Village Council approved an ordinance permitting development and on July 21 the trees began to be removed and he is are now monitoring this activity. Other representatives of Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance are appearing at the Forest Preserve Commission and they are trying to continue their support for this. Rather than showing pictures of what is going on, he wanted to call to the attention of the Commission that they still have on appeal a case involving the consultation process and Lyman Woods. Originally this was set for briefing on March 10 and all of the parties supplied their briefs to the courts according to the schedule set at that time which was June 26, 1998. The State of Illinois was not able to meet that schedule and in fact requested first an extension to July 31, and now to September 4, 1998. He is very concerned that when the brief comes from the State of Illinois, it will be that this case is now moot and the court will not decide about the fundamental issues that were raised in it. His plea to the Commission is to intervene and ask the State of Illinois Attorney General not to plea for mootness of this issue but, in the public interest, get the issue resolved that were raised in this original case.
Chair Ranney informed Mr. Goodman that his comments will be considered.
Rita Martin, who is also from Downers Grove, has been working on the Lyman Woods issue with Mr. Goodman and Pierce Downers Heritage Alliance for approximately two years. Until the area is graded, there is still hope for restoration in the future. The grading will make a tremendous difference in the quality of the land and will basically take away the whole understructure and the root structure that has developed over a long period of time. She stated that she was sure the Commission is familiar with the property's worth and the value. She asked the Commission to give this serious consideration.
Carolyn Grosboll read a statement that was faxed to the meeting today from Dave Monk, and he requested that this be read on his behalf during the public comment period since he wasn't able to make it today. This letter is regarding the Illinois Department of Transportation teasel eradication. His letter states:
"I wanted to say that I think we need to watch the IDOT teasel eradication program. Locally, we have a lot of herbicide and contorted prairie plants on the Route 45 corridor north of Rantoul. The teasel is damaged, but I think that the program could take out a lot of loosely knit prairie remnant species. Our stronger prairie plots, for the most part, have not taken teasel yet but disturbed and restoration sites support increasing teasel populations and the herbiciding does have an effect on the prairie species on these sites. The most visual damage is to the silphiums and larger nearby prairie plants but the other prairie species are effected also.
I don't know what the research is but it would be helpful to know if there are certain herbicides or concentrations or timings of application that could take out the teasel and retain the prairie. It might be that we are asking for contact herbiciding rather than broad swath spraying. It would also be helpful if the teasel units were aware of prairie sites that are valuable. It would seem that the operators don't always know when they are on prairie sites and what the boundaries are. Alternatively, it would be helpful if we knew when teasel teams were about to spray.
I talked to Dick McMullin at the IDOT, Paris regional office and it seems that the teasel crews are not emanating from the Landscape Division Office which has been generally supportive of our preservation efforts.
In some cases, I would continue what has been done for years and that is hand-cutting them, but I think teasel has been getting out of hand in this and other states and beyond hand control.
Some interaction with IDOT might be helpful.
There was a wonderfully outspoken woman from the federal IDOT at the prairie conference named Bonnie Harper Lore, who is a roadside wildlife specialist and she had a lot to say about getting DOT's to be more sensitive with their mowing, spraying and planting procedures.
Thanks, Dave Monk."
Chair Ranney referred this request to the INPC staff to do what they can about finding out what other alternatives there are to herbicing those areas with a possible detriment to the prairie.
160-25) Other Business
Dr. Nevling feels that the Commission would be remiss by not bringing up a new problem that he is sure everyone at this meeting is aware of, and that is the Asian long-horned beetle, because of the potential it has to do great harm to nature preserves. It has received a lot of press and the beetle has been identified as being in the Ravenswood District of Chicago before mid-July. It is a very highly destructive beetle that comes from China, Korea and Japan. While we should not be astonished that there is a new pest here, because a new insect pest turns up in Illinois on average, every other year; but this is a particularly significant pest. A recent news report rightly said that its diet of choice are poplars, willows and soft maples and that itself doesn't sound that horrible except when they speak of poplars, they are talking about the genous populous and this includes the cottonwood. He pointed out that Illinois' cottonwood was introduced into China in order to grow wood quickly and this beetle is the major pest of that cottonwood. The problem is that there are about 100 professional entomologists in the state, but only about 10 or 15 of them are actually out collecting insects. The insect collecting that is going on within the state is done primarily by amateurs and in fact this long-horned beetle was originally picked up by an amateur. One of the problems the Commission faces is that no insect collecting is allowed in nature preserves and therefore except for the people that run the nature preserves, there is no one out there really monitoring and it means that everyone that has anything to do with any nature preserves has to be very vigilant and keep looking for this. Commissioner Nevling thinks the long-horned beetle is a terrible name for this beetle and he likes the Chinese common name for this better which is the starry sky beetle. He brought one with him today if anyone would like to see it.
Chair Ranney introduced Betsy Dietl who will be leading a tour to the Oak Openings Nature Preserve buffer to show the wonderful restoration that she has been spearheading there.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by O'Keefe and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 2:25 p.m.