164-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 9:20 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Ranney, the meeting began.
Chair Ranney thanked the Vermilion County Conservation District (VCCD) for hosting the 164th Meeting of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) and the tours that were conducted the previous day. She also thanked Doris Westfall for her tour of the Doris Westfall Prairie Restoration Nature Preserve. In addition, Chair Ranney thanked Marilyn Campbell for her tour of the Russell M. Duffin Nature Preserve.
Carolyn Grosboll gave the roll call.
Members present: Jonathan Ellis, Guy Fraker, Lorin Nevling, Joyce O'Keefe, Don Pierce, Victoria Ranney, and Michael Schneiderman.
Member absent: Dianne Burton.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Loretta Arient, Steven Byers, Judy Faulkner Dempsey, Bob Edgin, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Tammie McKay, Angella Moorehouse, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, and Mary Kay Solecki, INPC; Randall Collins and Tim Hickmann, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Ed Anderson, Carl Becker, Fran Harty, Dan Kirk, Patti Malmborg, Brian Reilly, Eric Smith, and Bob Szafoni, Division of Natural Heritage, IDNR; Ken Fiske, INPC Consultant; Jennifer Coady, Scott Marlow, and George Rose, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society and INPC Consultant; Ed Stirling, Natural Land Institute(NLI) and INPC Consultant; David L. Thomas, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) and INPC Advisor; Ed Martin and Rita Martin, Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance; Jim Anderson, Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD); Jack Tindall, Village of Mettawa; Mark Pittman and Lara Kazakaits,VCCD; Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, representing Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dr. William Bowles and Jeffrey Bowles, representing William A. DeMint Memorial Hill Prairie Nature Preserve; Bob Schifo and James O. Smith, Outdoor Heritage Foundation, representing Jordan Creek of the North Fork Nature Preserve; David Monk, Educational Resources in Environmental Sciences (ERES); Julene Perbohner, representing Julia M. & Royce L. Parker Fen Nature Preserve; Lawrence Barrie and Shirley Hunt, representing Warbler Woods Nature Preserve; John Schwegman, Martha Schwegman, and Doris Westfall.
Chair Ranney reported that legal protection was approved by the Commission for eight tracts of land totaling 560 acres at the Commission's 163rd Meeting which was held at Volo Bog State Natural Area in Lake County on May 4, 1999. Three of those eight areas are owned by private individuals, and one is owned by a not-for-profit conservation group. The total dollar value of the four tracts of non-government land, totaling 274 acres, is $945,000. This is based on conservative estimates of the fair market value of the land. This private land was permanently preserved without acquisition of land by the State. These lands were: 11 acres for the Brooklands Wood Land and Water Reserve in Lake County, 18 acres for the Webber Wildlife Refuge Land and Water Reserve in Lake County, 240 acres for the Maze Woods Land and Water Reserve in LaSalle County, and 5 acres for the Twin Culvert Cave Nature Preserve in Pike County. The protection of this land came about because the INPC has nine field staff working with private landowners, and she thanked the staff for their hard work. Chair Ranney also thanked the private landowners of Illinois who came forward and had their land protected. In addition, 286 acres of land owned by either the State or local governments within the State, were protected at the 163rd INPC Meeting. The value of that land is approximately $300,000.
164-2) Adoption of Agenda
Carolyn Grosboll stated that at the request of the landowners, Items 14, 15, 16, and 22 will be presented after Item 9.
Jim Anderson, LCFPD, asked that Item 24 be presented after Item 9 also.
Carolyn stated that Item 24 will be presented after Item 9, followed by Items 14, 15, 16, and 22.
It was moved by Fraker seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the Agenda be adopted as amended.
164-3) Approval of Minutes of 163rd Meeting, May 4, 1999
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the Minutes of the 163rd INPC Meeting, May 4, 1999, be approved.
164-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Carolyn Grosboll reported that the INPC's 165th Meeting will be held October 26, 1999, at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, Illinois, at 10:00 a.m.
164-5) Election of Officers - INPC Nominating Committee Report
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that there are seven Commissioners eligible for election to office, however, one Commissioner has decided not to seek re-election. He thanked Commissioner Nevling and Commissioner Burton for working on the Nominating Committee. Guy Fraker was nominated to succeed Vicky Ranney as Chair. Commissioner Fraker is the former Chair of the Illinois
Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Commissioner Schneiderman stated TNC is one of the most important partners that the Commission has. Commissioner Fraker has also been active in local and State conservation and preservation efforts for many years. Joyce O'Keefe was nominated for Vice-Chair. Commissioner O'Keefe is the Associate Director of Openlands Project, and she has been involved in numerous conservation projects, including Ft. Sheridan and the Joliet Army Arsenal. She has also been a member of the Illinois Environmental Council and has a long history of persistent participation in conservation and preservation issues. Jonathan Ellis was nominated for Secretary. Commissioner Ellis has a degree in wildlife biology. He was Chair of the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board (IESPB) for a number of years, and he also has a long career of participation in conservation and preservation issues.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following Commissioners be elected as Officers of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Guy Fraker as Chair, Joyce O'Keefe as Vice-Chair, and Jonathan Ellis as Secretary.
Chair Fraker stated while this election was not contested, it should not diminish the job. The work of the INPC to provide alternatives for protection is very important. This is possible because of the leadership of the Commission from Carolyn Grosboll, Don McFall, and Randy Heidorn along with the talent and dedication of the staff. He felt it was an honor to serve as Chair. Chair Fraker thanked Commissioner Ranney on behalf of his fellow Commissioners and the staff for her leadership over the last two years. He felt Commissioner Ranney's leadership was noteworthy in style and substance. Under her leadership, the Commission has become more aggressive and more pro-active in the advancement of the mission of the Commission.
Chair Fraker presented Commissioner Ranney with a framed poster of the "Summer Prairie Wildflowers and Grasses of Illinois" with a plaque which reads, "This token of appreciation is presented to Victoria Post Ranney in recognition of her exemplary and dedicated service to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission as its Chair from 1997-1999, presented this third day of August, 1999."
164-6) Election of Consultants
Carolyn Grosboll stated that she has contacted each of the Commission's current consultants, and each of them have agreed to serve another year, with the exception of Dr. Alfred Koelling who is the Curator of Botany for the Illinois State Museum. Dr. Koelling is retiring at the end of August. Carolyn recommended the re-election of INPC's current consultants: Gerald Adelmann, Dr. Robert Betz, Bruce Boyd, Marilyn Campbell, Kenneth V. Fiske, Al Pyott, Dr. Kenneth Robertson, Valerie Spale, and Ed Stirling.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there were any new consultants on this list.
Carolyn stated that the names submitted are consultants that have served in the past.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked what was the procedure for preparation of this list.
Carolyn stated that historically, prior to having a larger staff, there were several members of the scientific community that served as technical advisors to the Commission. With the expansion of the staff, the consultants are individuals who are leaders in specific conservation groups. Bruce Boyd is with TNC, Gerald Adelmann is with Openlands Project, Marilyn Campbell is with Illinois Audubon Society, Al Pyott was formally with TNC and currently with the Wetlands Initiative, Valerie Spale is with Save the Prairie Society, Ed Stirling is with NLI, Ken Fiske is a former Chair of the Commission and currently does conservation consulting, Dr. Robert Betz is a well respected botanist and was a former Commissioner, and Dr. Kenneth Robertson is a botanist with the Natural History Survey.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated he had no objection to the nine nominated consultants, but he wanted to know if there was a procedure for recruiting new consultants.
Carolyn stated that there is currently no process for recruiting new consultants.
Commissioner Schneiderman suggested, over the next year, a procedure be created to bring new consultants to the Commission.
Commissioner Ranney asked Carolyn to explain the role of an INPC consultant.
Carolyn stated that the Commission periodically calls upon the consultants for their advice and assistance on an issue that the Commission may be involved with. The consultants are also free to give the Commission advice if they feel there is an issue that concerns them. Their travel expenses for doing work for the Commission are paid.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated creating such a procedure was a good idea, and she would suggest people from the scientific community be added since the Commission is well represented by other advocates.
Commissioner Nevling stated he would volunteer to assist in the preparation of a procedure to bring new consultants to the Commission.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Nevling, 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, Al Pyott, Dr. Kenneth Roberton, Valerie Spale, and Ed Stirling.
164-7) Natural Areas Acquisition Fund Fiscal Year 2000 Land Acquisition Proposals
Carolyn Grosboll stated that at INPC's 163rd Meeting on May 4, 1999, the Commission authorized by resolution number 1470 procedures on how a particular parcel of property would be recommended to IDNR's Director for acquisition. At that meeting, there was a discussion about adding some language to the procedures, as well as to the bottom of the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) land acquisition list authorizing INPC's Director to have authority, should the opportunity arise, to change the priority of the list. This would allow some flexibility to the list without having to take each change to the Commission. She proposed language that would accomplish this in a memo to the Commissioners.
Chair Fraker stated that this discussion was in the context of the fact that the Commission is now the advisory body to IDNR's Director on the use of the NAAF.
Carolyn proposed the following language:
"The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) amends resolution number 1470 approving the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) procedures to add language at Step VI authorizing the INPC Director to modify the recommended NAAF land acquisition list as opportunities arise, provided that the opportunities are recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) or buffer an INAI recognized site."
Commissioner Schneiderman asked for further clarification regarding the definition of the word "opportunities."
Carolyn stated this referred to opportunities for land acquisition. She said she chose that word because under Step I of the Procedures for Acquiring Land Interests it states "Targets of Opportunities Identified."
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried to amend Resolution 1470 as outlined above and set forth in the July 20, 1999, memo from Carolyn Grosboll.
Carolyn recommended that a second set of language be placed in Step VI of the Procedures for Acquiring Land Interests for the NAAF. The language proposed is:
"Pursuant to resolution number 1486, the INPC authorizes the INPC Director to modify the recommended list as opportunities arise, provided that the opportunities are recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) or buffer an INAI recognized site."
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the Commission approved the land acquisition procedures originally.
Carolyn stated that the Commission did approve these procedures under Resolution 1470 at INPC's 163rd Meeting on May 4, 1999.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Pierce, and carried to add the proposed language, as outlined above and set forth in the July 20, 1999, memo from Carolyn Grosboll, as part of Step VI of the Procedures for Acquiring Land Interests for the NAAF.
Carolyn recommended a third set of language to be placed at the bottom of the proposed NAAF list that is brought to the Commission so that the public is aware of possible variation should opportunities arise. That language reads:
"Note that the above list may be modified by the INPC Director pursuant to INPC resolution number 1486 as opportunities arise, provided that the opportunities are recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) or buffer an INAI recognized site."
Commissioner O'Keefe stated it seemed like the Commission is at the very end of the process in the land acquisition, and she was hoping as the Commission goes through this process and has experience with it, there may be an opportunity for the Commission and staff to interact more on the selections.
Carolyn stated the Commission could, at any point, recommend a parcel of property to be added to the list. The Commission's input would be appreciated as the properties are being identified. The Commissioners could be notified when the list of properties is being proposed.
Tim Hickmann stated that the proposed land acquisition list is usually longer than what can be acquired in any given year due to the available funding. If someone becomes aware of available property, it can be added to the working list. The final list, which will be approved by the Commission at the Commission meeting in August of each year, reflects the staff's choices that can actually be accomplished in a 12-month period given the appropriation. The working list is much longer than what is being presented to the Commission for approval.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ellis, and carried to add this proposed language at the bottom of the proposed NAAF list that is brought to the Commission for approval, as outlined above and set forth in the July 20, 1999, memo from Carolyn Grosboll.
Carl Becker stated that IDNR has provided a list of recommendations for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 NAAF Land Acquisition Program. The properties on this list were recommended by advocates that work with IDNR, such as TNC and NLI. The field staff of the Division of Natural Heritage and INPC also identified opportunities for acquisition. This list represents 15 tracts totaling 1,356 acres. Based on estimated land values, the cost for acquisition will be approximately $3,241,000. With incidental and relocation costs, the total expenditure for the FY 2000 NAAF will be approximately $3,644,700.
Carl reported the first site identified is a 30-acre addition at Redwing Slough State Natural Area in Lake County. This addition is a marsh which provides habitat for a large variety of wetland wildlife, including six species of endangered or threatened wetland dependent birds.
The second site identified is a 236-acre wetland at Black Crown Marsh, an INAI site in McHenry County. The marsh provides habitat for seven endangered or threatened species of wetland dependent birds.
The third site identified is a 72-acre addition at Volo Bog State Natural Area in McHenry and Lake counties. This site is the State's finest example of a tamarack bog and provides habitat for 23 endangered or threatened species.
The fourth site identified is a 3-acre addition at Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County. This addition will buffer the original prairie and prevent incompatible development adjacent to Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve.
The fifth site identified is a 538-acre addition at Cache River State Natural Area in Johnson and Pulaski counties. Twenty endangered or threatened species of plants or animals occur at this site.
The sixth site identified is a 230-acre tract at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Jasper County. Prairie Ridge State Natural Area supports breeding populations of seven species of declining grassland birds, including the critically endangered greater prairie chicken.
The seventh site identified is a 338-acre acquisition at Sand Ridge Mud Turtle site in Mason County. This site provides habitat for five endangered or threatened species, including large populations of the threatened Illinois chorus frog and endangered Illinois mud turtle.
The final site for the FY 2000 NAAF Land Acquisition Program is a 60-acre addition to Rockton Bog Nature Preserve in Winnebago County. The area provides habitat for five endangered or threatened plant species.
Commissioner Ellis asked what the total revenue for the NAAF for FY 2000 was expected to be.
Carl stated the total revenue is expected to be approximately $7 million. This is the amount that will be appropriated out of the NAAF, of which $3,644,700 is the estimated total expenditure for the proposed land acquisition for FY 2000.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked how many of these lands are potential candidates to be dedicated as nature preserves.
Carl stated all of the proposed sites for the NAAF Land Acquisition Program would be under some form of additional protection. The sites identified at Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve, Rockton Bog Nature Preserve, and Volo Bog State Natural Area will probably be dedicated as nature preserves. The other sites may be put into the land and water reserve program.
Carolyn stated that Black Crown Marsh is scheduled to become a land and water reserve.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked how these properties were chosen from the properties that could be considered.
Carl stated that IDNR has never lost a site because of the lack of ability to acquire it. A number of the areas that could be considered are already in protected ownership and are relatively secure.
Don McFall stated that as part of the analysis performed when choosing a particular site, they always ask if this site will be lost if IDNR does not purchase it. Currently the list contains several northeastern Illinois sites because there was some concern about losing those sites.
Carl stated in other cases, it is when the opportunity to obtain the property arises. While IDNR has the authority to use eminent domain, it has been used only on very rare occasions.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there were properties that satisfy those two criteria of threat and opportunity which are not on this list because the appropriation was not large enough to purchase them. He also asked if there were any sites omitted because of lack of funding.
Carl stated he was not aware of any sites that were not considered because of the lack of funding. There was an opportunity to acquire a few sites in Monroe County, but because of some changes in landowners, that has been postponed. It was felt that these sites could wait for another year.
Commissioner Schneiderman felt there may be a large inventory of properties that the State would like to protect, but there is only a small amount of money available to make these purchases. He asked if there was ever a struggle to find enough sites to deplete the current appropriation.
Carl stated a number of factors were considered when reviewing the list of possible available areas. It was determined which sites would not have an opportunity for acquisition if the action was postponed.
Don stated a determination was made on which properties could wait until next year, or longer, before losing the ability to protect the site. He stated there was a site at Lake in the Hills Fen which may need to be considered a high priority if the need arises.
Commissioner Nevling asked if, other than the site at Lake in the Hills Fen and the 8 sites on the FY 2000 NAAF Land Acquisition Program list, there were any properties in the State which were in danger of being irretrievably lost if action was not taken now.
Don stated it is not possible to be aware of every site and that not every area may be appropriate to be owned by the State. The State is more interested in acquiring larger sites. A 20-acre wood lot may not be recognized by IDNR.
Commissioner Nevling asked if the State had the money necessary to obtain the properties on this list during FY 2000, would there be a list next year? He also asked if there was a secondary list of potential sites for future acquisition.
Carl stated there is a long list of potential sites, and if for some reason a site on the FY 2000 acquisition list was not feasible, or another opportunity comes up, the list would be modified to accommodate the change.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that Openlands Project released a report at the beginning of this year entitled "Under Pressure." The report focused on the six traditional Chicago metropolitan region counties, along with Grundy County and Kendall County in Illinois, three Indiana counties, and two Wisconsin counties. A forecast was developed of where development was likely to occur within the next ten and thirty years. In that area where development was likely to occur, 150 natural areas were threatened by development in that period of time. This report was able to differentiate between the ten and thirty year period. This development is relentless, and it is important to stay aware of this progression. A large number of those natural area sites were in the Fox River watershed and close to the river itself.
Don stated no matter what the appropriated monetary amount, the list would match it. With the parameters given, IDNR chooses sites in the core areas, then adds the acres around the site.
Fran Harty stated that IDNR recently puchased a 313-acre site at Goose Lake Prairie which was not on any list. It became available for sale, and IDNR had to make a quick decision to purchase the property.
Commissioner Pierce asked if there was a risk of losing a particular site this year, or were there other mechanisms in place to deal with this.
Don stated if, in addition to the proposed acquisition list, two particular landowners made available a large number of acres at the same time requiring IDNR to respond quickly, there would not be enough money in the NAAF.
Ken Fiske stated that there has been a long effort to acquire land at Markham Prairie. It is not under an immediate threat because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has protected the site through its action. However, if this protection ever gets diluted, this would endanger a national natural area that should have been purchased 10 years ago.
Tim Hickmann stated that the starting point of this acquisition list is the INAI. At some point in time, with enough money and willing landowner participation, the entire INAI will get protected. If there is extra money available, staff will be contacting landowners and keeping the long-term goal of protection in mind.
Brian Reilly stated there are files on each potential site, and if a particular site is not currently available, there is another potential site that could be substituted for suitable acquisition. The list for FY 2001 is in the process of development.
Chair Fraker asked if this process involved a judgement of the priority of each site.
Brian stated the judgement of each site is based on if the site is under threat or if the site is for sale. Much of the FY 2000 list is available for purchase at this time.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated there is money available with the Open Lands Trust Fund. During the last few months, the Commission was advised that the purpose of that Fund was to preserve natural areas in the broader sense. She asked if some of the other sites on the NAAF list may also be on the Open Lands Trust Fund list.
Carl stated he is involved with the Open Land Trust development within the Agency. Governor Ryan signed the Open Lands Trust Act on July 21, 1999. This Act provides for $40 million each year for four years, totaling $160 million. Twenty million dollars is allocated for grants and loans, $18 million for IDNR to acquire land, and $2 million to community assistance. Carl stated he has been working on the grants and loans portion of this allocation. The legislation is a resource for open space protection. A process will be developed to grade these loans and applications as they are received. Emphasis will be placed on the natural resource features so that those areas under threat that have significant natural resource value are the ones placed at the top of the list. Some of the questions asked in this process will be: is the site on the INAI; is this a forest; is it a grassland larger than 100 acres; is the site along a high-quality stream; and does the site contribute by buffering and protecting an existing protected site. The Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Act (OSLAD) grants are a 50-50 match. There has been some discussion of having different matches for the Open Land Trust depending on certain circumstances. These are all factors that need to be resolved and are actively in discussion. The constituents who were involved early on in the development of this legislation will be recruited to provide guidance. Considering the significant bond referendums that were passed by Lake, Will, and Kane counties, there is great opportunity to stretch those Open Land Trust dollars with grants to protect the 150 natural areas threatened by future development.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission recommends to IDNR's Director that the proposed FY 2000 NAAF Land Acquisition Program List as presented under Item 7 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting be acquired.
Chair Fraker stated that no one should lose site of the significance that $3.6 million will be spent on the acquisition of important natural areas.
164-8) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll reported that the General Assembly passed our budget before adjourning in May, 1999. Last fiscal year, the Commission received an appropriation of $894,000. This fiscal year, the Commission received an appropriation of $929,000, which is a 3.9% increase.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked how did the 3.9% increase compare to other State agencies.
Carolyn stated the increase was the general cost-of-living increase that most agencies received.
Carolyn announced that Brian Reilly and Barbara Ver Steeg have left the Commission to work for IDNR. Brian started May 16, 1999, as the Natural Areas Program Manager for the Division of Natural Heritage and will be responsible for establishing the Department's natural areas acquisition priorities, as well as the INAI. Brian will be working with Patti Malmborg on those efforts.
Barbara took a position June 1, 1999, with the Office of Resource Conservation (ORC). She will be responsible for maintaining the database for the Division of Wildlife. Carolyn said both Barbara and Brian will be missed.
Both Brian and Babara's positions, as well as Patti Malmborg's position, have been posted. Brian's former position is full time. Barbara and Patti's former positions were permanent part-time. However, Barbara's former position was increased from 60% to 93%. Patti's former position was increased from 80% to 93%. It is hoped that these vacancies will be filled sometime this fall.
The paperwork has been sent out by the Governor's office regarding the appointments and re-appointments to the Commission. The paperwork was sent to the individuals recommended by the Chief of the Natural History Survey and the Director of the State Museum. Carolyn advised the Commissioners that she would keep them advised of this process.
Carolyn updated the Commission regarding the agreement with the Brookville Lutheran Cemetery Association as it related to Brookville Lutheran Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve. At INPC's 163rd Meeting, authorization was given for the signing of an agreement that would set some parameters on how the Nature Preserve was to be divided to accommodate the burials. The agreement has been signed by all parties, and the Bill that was pending in the General Assembly to address this issue was never called for second reading. John Alesandrini was contacted by the Cemetery Association to visit the site and to observe the boundary delineation. John visited the site, and it was laid out as per the agreement. John contacted the Cemetery Association and advised them that the Commission concurred with the boundary delineation. It is not known at this time if any further action has occurred at the site.
Carolyn stated there has not been much change in the situation at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. Material Service Corporation (MSC) has not provided the Commission with a copy of the updated hydrological report. The technical staffs of IDNR, INPC, and MSC met in April, 1999, to discuss the Survey's initial review of MSC's report. Further review and updates were to be completed following that meeting. However, this process has not been completed as of this date. MSC is not mining adjacent to the Fen, and at this time there is no on-going threat to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. Once the updated report has been through the peer review and evaluation process, INPC and IDNR will be free to discuss the contents of the report.
Carolyn updated the Commission on the situation regarding equestrian use on the Shawnee National Forest. On May 6, 1999, Don McFall, Judy Faulkner-Dempsey, Kirby Cottrell, Carl Becker, and Carolyn met with the Forest Service and several equestrian and trail groups in Eddyville to discuss the issue of equestrian use in the Shawnee National Forest. Representatives of the Governor's office, as well as Congressman Phelps' office and Representative Fowler's office were also present. The meeting went well, and for the first time, it appeared that almost everyone at the table agreed that the Forest Management Plan provided that equestrian use was not to occur in the 81 natural areas with the exception of the seven areas that had been grandfathered in. The Forest Service has begun the scoping process to place trails through two of those seven areas. The discussion then focused on what each of the groups present could do to help the Forest Service expedite this process. Several good ideas were presented to contribute to the process.
As a follow-up to the meeting on May 6, 1999, Don McFall, Judy Faulkner-Dempsey, Carolyn Grosboll, Carl Becker, Kirby Cottrell, Dave Cooper, and Jody Shimp met with Forest Service staff on June 30, 1999, to offer specific assistance from the Commission and the Department. Representatives from the Governor's office and Congressman Phelps' office were also present to offer their support. The Commission offered two full-time staff for two months to assist the Forest Service in identifying boundaries and mapping. This would help the Forest Service with the scoping process to designate the seven trails and start the process of building the trails. The Forest Service would like this to be done prior to closure of any areas. The Department offered to put forth contractual dollars to assist with the scoping effort and to administer the contract. The Commission and IDNR wanted to see some closures occur prior to putting forth money and manpower. The Commission and IDNR advised the Forest Service that 24 areas should be closed prior to any assistance being given, and 24 areas were identified that currently have little or no equestrian use in them. These 24 areas were still in pristine condition. The Forest Service seemed willing to consider the offer; although, they did bring up a potential problem relating to a 1996 lawsuit. The District Court decision was appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. That Court's decision came down last fall, and it said that anytime there is an action that is going to involve things like an endangered or threatened species habitat, steep slopes, or erosive soils, an Environmental Analysis (EA) must be completed before closure of the area can be done. The Forest Service was potentially viewing the closure of those areas as an action that would precipitate doing an EA. The Forest Service has not contacted the Commission regarding the official interpretation of that ruling.
Carolyn stated that upon returning to Springfield following the meeting on June 30, 1999, she went to the Illinois Supreme Court Library and reviewed the case. She also talked with the attorney who sued the Forest Service. He concurred with their interpretation that an EA would most likely be required. Being more familiar with this process, he thought the Forest Service could probably combine all 24 areas into one EA. Since it would be an action that would enhance the resource, the EA would not be as detailed as generally required. Carolyn is still waiting to hear from the Forest Service as to whether they are going to accept assistance from the Commission. The Commission has continued to work with Congressman Phelps' office to see if more money could be appropriated for the Forest Service to assist them in their efforts with this issue. Congressman Phelps' office will call a meeting sometime in August with everyone that has a concern regarding this issue.
As you may recall, a lawsuit was filed by the Shawnee Trail Conservancy against the Forest Service regarding the closure of roads during the first set of 40 natural areas that were closed in January, 1997. This lawsuit challenged the Forest Service's authority to close the 40 natural areas. The District Court Judge ruled two weeks ago to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court felt that the issue was more to quiet title since it was dealing with road easements. These individuals did not have prior ownership to any easements; therefore, they did not have standing to bring the suit. Even if they did, the suit should have been brought in State Court rather than Federal Court. The second issue regarding the research natural areas, the Court said the plaintiffs should have exhausted all of their administrative appeals before bringing suit in Federal Court. The Mountain States Legal Foundation of Denver, which is representing the Shawnee Trail Conservancy, plans to appeal the ruling.
Commissioner Ranney asked Carolyn what percentage of the natural areas is to be closed to equestrian use.
Carolyn stated there are 81 natural areas in the Shawnee National Forest. The total Forest acreage is approximately 365,000 acres. The natural areas represent approximately 4.9% of the entire Forest. The Forest Management Plan provides that equestrian use can occur anywhere else in the Forest.
Chair Fraker stated these problems represent delicate issues and require a delicate touch, and he commended Carolyn on her efforts.
Don McFall updated the Commission on the activities of the field staff since the last Commission meeting. Don reported that two new Natural Heritage Landmarks (NHL) were enrolled. Bob Edgin negotiated Wald Frieden NHL in Effingham County. This is a 30-acre tract adjacent to Rock Cave Nature Preserve. This NHL contains more of the sandstone bluffs and upland forest that are present in Rock Cave Nature Preserve. The owners are Karl and Ruth Jesgarz of Altamont. With the enrollment of this NHL, there are now 193 acres in the Rock Cave natural area that are either an IDNR nature preserve or private land enrolled in the landmark program. Snakey Acres NHL in Monroe County is the second new landmark and was negotiated by Debbie Newman. This is a 30-acre site containing high-quality loess hill prairie on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River and is part of Potato Hill Prairie natural area. It is owned by Danny and Judy Merrill of Columbia. There are now 123 NHL's covering over 5,600 acres.
Don reported that Steven Byers and Brian Reilly represented the Commission in the Chicago Wilderness and Fox River partnerships. John Alesandrini represented the Commission at the Driftless Area Partnership and the Sugar-Pecatonica River Partnership. Tom Lerczak represented the Commission at the Heart of the Sangamon River Partnership. Judy Faulkner-Dempsey represented the Commission at the Cache River Partnership. Judy has also continued to work with the Forest Service on the issue of damage to natural areas by equestrian use on the Shawnee National Forest.
Don presented a progress report, which was prepared by Randall Collins, regarding the level of protection of the INAI sites in Illinois. Don reported there are 1230 INAI sites in Illinois. There is some level of legal protection for 623, or approximately 50%, of those sites. Legal protection is defined as "all or part of the area is a dedicated nature preserve, land and water reserve, owned by a public conservation agency or a not-for-profit organization, or protected by a conservation easement." Don stated that many of the INAI sites have more than one owner. In Cook County, 48 of the 69 INAI sites have some level of protection. In Lake County, 38 of 68 INAI sites have some level of protection. In McHenry County, 29 of the 58 INAI sites have some level of protection. In Kane County, 17 of the 33 INAI sites have some level of protection. In DuPage County, 20 of the 29 INAI sites have that level of protection. In Will County, 30 of the 40 INAI sites have that level of protection. In Kendall County, 6 of the 9 INAI sites have that level of the protection. Many of the wooded areas and prairie areas are in the forest preserve district and park district holdings. Many of the unprotected sites are probably wetlands.
Randy Heidorn reported that since Barbara Ver Steeg's departure, he has resumed the processing of the special use permits. Randy stated that Barbara had done an incredible job getting people to comply with the permit program. In this permit year, 457 special use permits have been issued, which is a 19% increase from last year's total of 397 permits for the same period. This year there have been 142 researchers, up from 124 researches last year. A total of 182 sites were issued, up from 178 sites last year. There are two months remaining in the normal permit year. There is a very definite increase in researcher use, particularly in the Chicago region natural areas.
Randy stated that there will be three deer management programs conducted by IDNR in nature preserves this year. This will be the third year of deer management at Goose Lake Prairie Nature Preserve. The two new sites are George B. Fell Nature Preserve at Castle Rock State Park and Beall Woods Nature Preserve. An antlerless-only firearm season deer hunting program will be employed at the George B. Fell Nature Preserve. At Beall Woods Nature Preserve, employment of both the firearm and archery program as part of a comprehensive deer management program will be initiated. These sites have had severe damage to vegetation from deer grazing, and this is the basis for these management activities.
Randy updated the Commission on the groundwater research project. The second year of that project has been completed. The Commission has a contract with the Illinois State Water and Geological Surveys to delineate recharge areas for the 85 natural areas to establish those areas as Class III: Special Resource Groundwater under the Groundwater Protection Act. The other portion of this project is to provide hydrological information as needed. The researches have been very active with the Lake in the Hills Fen mining issue. This work will continue into FY 2000. The project is supported by money from the Stewardship portion of the NAAF and the Environmental Protection Trust Fund.
Randy stated that the second year of the garlic mustard biological control project has been completed. This research is being conducted in Europe and involves looking for insects that could be used as a biological control agent to control garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is a serious threat to the forests in Illinois. Several species have been selected as potential agents. The next phase will be testing to see how host-specific these insects are. Illinois has been a leader in this project and has provided $30,000 to further this research. In the last year, the U.S. Department of Defense has become interested in funding this research. If all goes well, there may be a control for garlic mustard available in five to seven years.
A list of the completed stewardship projects for FY 99 was distributed to the Commissioners. Randy stated the Division of Natural Heritage allocates $250,000 a year out of the NAAF for Stewardship projects.
Chair Fraker stated the Commission will miss Barbara Ver Steeg and Brian Reilly.
164-9) IDNR Staff Report
Carl Becker advised the Commission that on July 22, 1999, the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) at the Savanna Army Depot approved a land trade with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). IDNR and USFWS will trade approximately 550 acres. The USFWS will receive the Witton Gate site, the northern housing unit, and all the shoreline along the Mississippi River on the south end of the Depot. The LRA will get the warehouses that were on the USFWS property. The LRA will also get a buffer to the J area and the manufacturing area, along with a few other miscellaneous sites. Another component is that the management and research activities on the land that was traded to the LRA that occurs between the warehouses will continue and will be under the management of the USFWS and available for research. This is a benefit for both parties. The warehouses can be used to bring redevelopment and activity to the site by the LRA. The sites that were traded to the USFWS are of biological importance.
Carl stated House Bill 1825 was amended to include the legislation on the Endangered Species Protection Act which provides for incidental take. This is legislation that the Department had sought two sessions ago, but it was unsuccessful in getting out of Committee. The current state law says that under certain circumstances, when an action is going to result in the taking of listed animals, that action cannot be committed. It creates a situation where nothing can happen. There are some circumstances where that could occur. It was felt it would be best to take care of that situation in advance. There was a proposal to delist, by legislation, the Indiana crayfish and the eastern massasauga. This legislation creates a process, driven by science, to make a determination in those circumstances if there can be a conservation plan developed which will result in the betterment of the species and its habitat and allow incidental take to allow the project to move forward. It is patterned after some federal legislation, as well as other states. That bill is now being considered by the Governor.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked Carl if the Commission should contact the Governor to urge him to sign this bill or was there substantial opposition.
Carl stated that it is the Department's position to support the passage of this bill. There have been some comments received from TNC and Sierra Club, and the Governor's office is actively considering those recommendations for some alternative language to provide a third party oversight to assist the Department in making this decision.
Carl updated the Commission on personnel changes. He welcomed Brian Reilly to the Division of Natural Heritage. Brian has assumed the duties overseeing natural areas protection. Carl reported that Maggie Cole was hired as Natural Heritage's Region II administrator, and her office is located at Silver Springs State Park. Fran Harty, who has been overseeing Regions II and III, is now overseeing Region III. He explained that IDNR has five administrative regions in the State, and the Division of Natural Heritage has had four regional administrators over the five regions for many years. Carl informed the Commission that Jim Garner, formerly of the Division of Natural Heritage, has been appointed Deputy Director of IDNR, filling the position left vacant by John Comerio.
A break was taken from 10:50 a.m. - 10:55 a.m.164-10) Coles Co. - Embarras River Land and Water Reserve, Registration
On behalf of IDNR, Bob Szafoni presented a proposal for the registration of Embarras River as a land and water reserve. The proposed Embarras River Land and Water Reserve consists of approximately 980 acres in Fox Ridge State Park, 3 miles south of Charleston. The area is owned by the IDNR and protects over 5 miles of the Embarras River, a biologically significant stream and an INAI site (INAI #950), ten endangered or threatened species, 20 species of forest interior birds, and exceptionally diverse mussel populations. Allowable uses include hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding on existing trails, and a pre-existing handtrap range. IDNR requests that the Commission grant approval for registration of this 980-acre site as the Embarras River Land and Water Reserve. In doing so, the Commission will create the second largest land and water reserve in Illinois and help insure that some of the most imperiled of our State's resources will not be left unprotected.
Dave Thomas, from the INHS, asked if there were any recent records of the Harlequin Darter at this site.
Bob stated that it no longer occurs at that location, but it may be reintroduced into some areas along there.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Embarras River in Coles County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
164-11) Jo Daviess Co. - Tapley Woods Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Ed Anderson presented a proposal for the registration of Tapley Woods as a land and water reserve. Tapley Woods is a 259-acre site located in Jo Daviess County, approximately 7 miles southeast of Galena. The site consists of upland, slope, and ravine forest, with dolomite bedrock outcrops and associated springs. It is one of the best examples owned and managed by the IDNR of the original upland and ravine forest of the Wisconsin Driftless Natural Division of Illinois, a unique region of the state that escaped Pleistocene glaciation. Tapley Woods supports breeding populations of area-sensitive forest wildlife species and provides opportunities for hiking, nature study, wildlife viewing, research, and hunting. The hunting is on a limited walk-in basis. The hunters must park in an established parking lot which is along the edge of Route 20. The site contains a rich flora including spreading sedge (Carex laxiculmis), rice grass (Oryzoposis racemosa), yellow lady's-slipper orchid (Cypripedium pubescens), Goldie's fern (Dryopteris goldiana), and the state-threatened drooping sedge (Carex prasina). Route 20 does dissect the site, but it has been recommended that, if possible, Tapley Woods not be further divided in order to maintain the nesting habitat. The proposed northern alignment for Route 20 would skirt around the north through the Long Hollow alignment through primarily agricultural areas. The southern alignment is the Irish Hollow alignment. This is the proposed expressway alignment.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if IDOT had a view on this.
George Rose, from IDOT, stated that he was asked to make a statement that in addition to these alignments, IDOT is still looking at an alignment that follows the existing Route 20. It would go between the two parts of Tapley Woods. IDOT was asked to look at the alignment through Tapley Woods by a citizen's advisory committee that was concerned about a road through the Long Hollow alignment. IDOT felt, in light of the public's request and IDOT's jurisdiction over a 300-foot right-of-way through Tapley Woods, the need to study an alignment through Tapley Woods. From an engineering standpoint, the existing 300-foot right-of-way would not accommodate the horizontal and vertical curve deficiencies that make it difficult to design a 70 miles per hour (MPH) alignment. George asked if the existing highway right-of-way is exempt from the registration.
Carolyn Grosboll said the site would be registered subject to IDOT's easement.
George asked if the rest areas are excluded.
Ed Anderson stated that the rest areas fall within the right-of-way. IDOT maintains one rest area on the site, and it is located within IDOT's right-of-way along Tapley Woods.
Ed stated the hunter parking lot is now maintained for the hunting program, and it is not utilized as a rest area.
Commissioner Ranney stated that Route 20 is a two lane road, and she asked for an explanation on the long-range plan.
Ed stated that IDOT is proposing to expand Route 20 to a four lane freeway or expressway, and the different alignments reflect the possible locations for the four lane.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he did not realize that there was a threat to Tapley Woods, and he wanted to know if there was protection for this site. He asked if registering this site as a land and water reserve would prevent IDOT from using the existing Route 20 alignment and going beyond the 300-foot right-of-way.
Carl Becker stated that the answer would be yes. A petition had been filed challenging whether Tapley Woods is covered under 4f of the Federal Highway Transportation Act. This Act states that there has to be no prudent or feasible alternative in taking 4f parkland for highway purposes. Having this site designated as a land and water reserve provides additional protection.
John Alesandrini stated that, as George Rose had pointed out, one of the problems is that the existing 300-foot right-of-way that goes through Tapley Woods is not an appropriate alignment to accommodate the kinds of reductions in the curves and hills that IDOT would like to accomplish to reach a 70 MPH expressway or freeway alignment. Without the land and water reserve designation, if they did opt for the Tapley Woods alignment, IDOT would undoubtedly open negotiations for rearrangement of that 300-foot right-of-way. Registration would, if not preclude that option, make the INPC and IDNR part of any discussion in this regard.
Carolyn stated that as far as IDOT's 300-foot right-of-way is concerned, Section 19 of the Natural Areas Preservation Act provides that the dedication or registration of an area or any other action taken under this Act shall not void or replace any protected status under law which an area would have if it were not dedicated. It would not invalidate IDOT's easement in any fashion.
Dave Monk stated in other parts of the country some departments of transportation are being asked to reduce the speed through certain areas.
Commissioner Ellis asked if the state-listed speed limit is 65 MPH, why does IDOT build 70 MPH roads.
George stated that roads are designed for speeds higher than the posted speed limit. The higher the design speed, the less tight the curve. Illinois' speed limit was 70 a number of years ago. At that time, the highways were being designed for an 80 MPH design speed. These are the Federal Highway Administration standards.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if the land and water reserve status would provide additional protection to the land outside of that 300-foot right-of-way. She felt the preferred alternative would be to have something designed to the 70 MPH standard. She also felt if there were not that additional protection, there may be a need to negotiate.
Carolyn stated, as Carl had mentioned, if this site becomes a registered land and water reserve, it would be recognized as Section 4f property.
George stated he was not sure that the registration as a land and water reserve would automatically give the site a 4f status. The Federal Highway Administration would decide that. There was a meeting this week about this issue. Some of the documents said it was a hunting area. Now that IDNR is providing information that this site is used for other kinds of recreation, it may cause the Federal Highway Administration to reconsider. The fact that the IDNR owns the site is one protection. One state agency cannot condemn another state agency's land.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Tapley Woods in Jo Daviess County as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
164-12) Shelby Co. - Margaret Guzy Pothole Wetlands Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Eric Smith presented a proposal for the registration of Margaret Guzy Pothole Wetlands as a land and water reserve. The proposed Margaret Guzy Pothole Wetlands Land and Water Reserve is 159 acres of restored prairie and shallow water wetlands located 2 miles northeast of Findlay. The site was bequeathed to the IDNR by Margaret Guzy for the purpose of developing it into a wildlife sanctuary. The complex contains 6 shallow wetlands interspersed with restored mesic and wet-mesic prairie. The site attracts tens of thousands of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, has the size to attract area sensitive grassland birds, and represents the best of its kind of habitat in row crop dominated east-central Illinois. Allowable uses include bird watching, educational tours, and research.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Margaret Guzy Pothole Wetlands in Shelby County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
164-13) Hamilton Co. - Karcher's Post Oak Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Bob Edgin presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Karcher's Post Oak Woods as a nature preserve. The proposed Karcher's Post Oak Woods Nature Preserve is owned by the Illinois Audubon Society who wishes to dedicate the entire 39.5-acre tract as nature preserve. Karcher's Post Oak Woods is located in the Mount Vernon Hill Country Section of the Southern Till Plain Natural Division of Illinois and contains 32 acres of very old growth post oak (Quercus stellata) forest and dry-mesic upland forest as recognized by the INAI. Many of the canopy trees are more than 150 years old with the largest trees approaching 36 inches in diameter and 225 years in age. In addition to the high quality forest, the site also contains one of Illinois' northernmost populations of spider lily (Hymenocallis caroliniana). If dedicated, this area would be the first INAI site so designated in Hamilton County, Illinois. On behalf of the Illinois Audubon Society, the INPC staff recommend that this 39.5-acre tract be granted preliminary approval for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve.
Bob stated there is an unimproved, dirt road which is less than 20 feet wide, that was developed through this site many years ago. It eventually links with an improved road five miles to the south. When this road was in use, it was almost impassible during the spring and fall. The people living in this area developed a large, flat boat that could be drawn across the surface of the mud. They rode this mud sled to church. This road was taken out of use in the 1920's, but the locals still refer to this old cartway as the Mud Sled Road. The only remnant of this road, which was platted in 1848, exists on the proposed nature preserve. Even though it has been abandoned for approximately 80 years, the soil is so compact that the plant growth is stunted. Next to the road there are large post oak trees.
Marilyn Campbell, of the Illinois Audubon Society, stated that they were happy to assist in the preservation of this area. The Audubon Society was notified of the availability of the site by Bob Edgin. He was concerned that it would be lumbered as was the tract next to it. Marilyn presented the details of the site to the Illinois Audubon Society Board, and they voted to proceed with the acquisition. The land had passed from the Karcher family to an in-law. The last Karcher had passed away, but prior to her death, she had willed the site to her three sisters who lived in Kentucky. They had never seen the property, but they were interested in preserving it. A price was agreed upon. The deed had not been updated for three generations. Marilyn and a friend drove to Kentucky with the check. One sister was advised that the amount was slightly less because of the taxes that were due. Marilyn stated she was informed by the landowner that the taxes had been paid for this year. Because the difference was not that great, Marilyn wrote a personal check for the difference. This satisfied everyone, and the sale was completed.
Commissioner Ranney asked why this site was saved as a woodland.
Bob stated that this site was stuck in limbo. This was the only tract that did not have a clear title. Apparently the remaining heirs had not gotten together and come to an agreement on the price. The individual who purchased the tract to the north was able to obtain a clear title to the 20 acres, but apparently not everything fell into place at the same time until the Audubon Society came along. Bob said when he got the history on this property, he knew that it was just a matter of time. He said he appreciated the Audubon Society's efforts to purchase this property.
Carolyn asked what happened to the 20 acres north of this site.
Bob said it was clear cut. That is where the fire scar data was obtained. Bill McClain was able to document at least 101 fire episodes that swept through this area in a 215 year period, along with the age of the trees in this area.
Marilyn stated that the person who bought the 20 acres north of this site had contacted Mrs. Karcher prior to her passing and wanted to purchase this land. Mrs. Karcher turned down the offer.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Karcher's Post Oak Woods in Hamilton County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
Chair Fraker thanked Marilyn and the Illinois Audubon Society for their efforts in protecting this land.
164-14) Marshall Co. - Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 24)
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, owned by Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, is a 2-acre tract (Lot #s 116 and 117) within the 78-acre Hopewell Estates Hill Prairies Natural Area (INAI #231). This property is located along the Illinois River bluffs approximately 18 miles northeast of Peoria in the Village of Hopewell. Mr. Brucker and Ms. Yang propose to dedicate approximately 1.1 acres of Grade B glacial drift hill prairie and Grade C woodlands on Lot #139 as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. The proposed addition is separated from the dedicated nature preserve by approximately 950 feet of privately owned, unprotected natural area, located mostly on very steep, undeveloped hillsides. The INPC staff recommends 1.1 acres at Lot #139 in the Village of Hopewell be granted preliminary approval as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve in Marshall County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
A lunch break was taken from 12:00 - 12:30 p.m. Chair Fraker thanked the Vermilion County Conservation District for providing a wonderful lunch.
164-15) Monroe Co. - William A. DeMint Memorial Hill Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of William A. DeMint Memorial Hill Prairie Nature Preserve. William A. DeMint Memorial Hill Prairie is a 28- acre portion of the 429-acre Prairie du Rocher Herpetological Area INAI site (INAI #938). The proposed nature preserve contains Grade C loess hill prairie, Grade A limestone cliff community, and Grade C dry and dry-mesic upland forest. This matrix of habitats is home to a variety of rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species, many of which are Ozark plateau or western plains species and have restricted ranges in Illinois. These include the Great Plains rat snake (Elaphe guttata emoryi), and the flathead snake ( Tantilla gracilis), both Illinois threatened; the coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum), state-endangered and the rare "Plains" scorpion (Centruroides vittatus). Western species such as stickleaf (Mentzelia oligosperma), and Plains prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia macrorhiza) are present on the proposed nature preserve. The state-threatened timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) has also been documented in the INAI site. The William A. DeMint Memorial Hill Prairie is located approximately one-quarter of a mile southeast of the recently dedicated Brickey-Gonterman Memorial Hill Prairie Nature Preserve. On behalf of Dr. William Bowles, the INPC staff recommend that this 28-acre tract be granted preliminary approval for dedication as a nature preserve.
Debbie introduced Dr. William Bowles and his son, Jeffrey. She commended Dr. Bowles and thanked him for his commitment to this project. She appreciated his willingness to protect this property in perpetuity.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of William A. DeMint Memorial Hill Prairie in Monroe County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 163rd Meeting.
Chair Fraker stated one of the important things the Commission does is allow private landowners to preserve property without the necessity of the State acquiring it for preservation. It requires the generosity of the landowners. He thanked Dr. Bowles for his generosity.
164-16) Coles Co. - Warbler Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Mary Kay Solecki presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Warbler Woods as a nature preserve. Warbler Woods is a 202-acre Land and Water Reserve that protects a large expanse of dry-mesic and mesic upland forest, as well as upland fields that are being restored to native woodland. The area lies 3 miles southeast of Charleston. Dr. Lawrence Hunt has owned and protected this forest since 1981. He registered the area as a land and water reserve in 1997. He wishes to enhance the protection of this area by dedicating it as a nature preserve. The forest harbors a population of the state-threatened false hellebore (Veratrum woodii) and provides breeding habitat for numerous forest interior birds. About 35 acres of forest rank as Grade B using criteria established by the INAI. Dr. Hunt wishes to enhance the protection of this area by dedicating it as a nature preserve. The INPC conferred preliminary approval for dedication of Warbler Woods at its 163rd Meeting on May 4, 1999 (Resolution #1477). On behalf of Dr. Hunt, INPC staff recommend final approval for dedication of Warbler Woods as an Illinois Nature Preserve.
Mary Kay introduced Dr. Hunt and his wife, Shirley.
Chair Fraker thanked Dr. and Mrs. Hunt for their willingness to protect their property. This is the first land and water reserve that has been taken to the next level of full protection.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Warbler Woods Nature Preserve in Coles County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
(Resolution 1496)164-17) Cook Co. - Dropseed Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of TNC, Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Dropseed Prairie as a nature preserve. The proposed Dropseed Prairie Nature Preserve is part of an archipelago of four prairies that are collectively referred to as the Indian Boundary Prairies, surviving remnants of the vast prairie that once extended for miles along the Lake Plain Section of old Lake Chicago. Dropseed Prairie, at 13 acres, is the smallest of the Indian Boundary Prairies. Dropseed Prairie and the other Indian Boundary Prairies have prospered under the watchful guidance of Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies, an affiliate of TNC's Volunteer Stewardship Network. Owned by TNC, Dropseed Prairie was originally known as I-57 Prairie and recognized for extant very high-quality (Grade A) and high-quality (Grade B) mesic prairie communities (INAI #425). In addition to the significant natural features of this site, Dropseed Prairie provides habitat for several prairie restricted insects including the two-spotted skipper (Euphyes bimacula) and the Aphrodite butterfly (Speyeria Aphrodite). It is best known for its namesake grass, prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), which grows profusely in the calcareous black soil. Dropseed Prairie was conferred preliminary approval for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve at the Commission's 145th Meeting in October, 1994 (Resolution #1247). Both the INPC staff and TNC are pleased to recommend final approval for dedication of Dropseed Prairie as an Illinois Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked why there was a five year delay in bringing this back to the Commission for final approval for dedication.
Steven stated that the staff of TNC initially wanted to convey the property to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC), and they wanted to extend to the District the honor of asking the Commission for final approval. However, because of the recent FPDCC moratorium on restoration, TNC decided to pursue final approval for dedication for all of the Indian Boundary Prairies.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the five year delay between preliminary and final approval would require reiteration of the preliminary approval by the Commission.
Carolyn stated there was no rule requiring reiteration under these circumstances. The only time items have been brought back to the Commission for reiteration is when there has been a change in status from what was presented to the Commission at the time of preliminary approval.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Dropseed Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
164-18) Cook Co. - Addition of Nature Preserve and Nature Preserve Buffer to Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of TNC, Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve. Paintbrush Prairie is one of four prairies located in the City of Markham, Illinois that are collectively referred to as the Indian Boundary Prairies. The Indian Boundary Prairies take their name from an American Indian treaty boundary line that passed just east of Paintbrush Prairie along the I-57 alignment. The other prairies are Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Sundrop Prairie, and Dropseed Prairie. Aside from the collective importance of this archipelago of prairies, Paintbrush Prairie supports more than 200 native plant species, including the state-listed ear-leafed foxglove (Tomanthera auriculata). Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve (60 acres) was conferred preliminary approval at the Commission's 145th Meeting in October, 1994 (Resolution #1248). At the Commission's 148th Meeting in August, 1995 (Resolution #1281), the Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of a key 8-acre addition. In October, 1998, a 10.1-acre addition was conferred preliminary approval at the Commission's 161st Meeting (Resolution #1445). Both the 60-acre tract along with the 8-acre addition were granted final approval for dedication at the Commission's 162nd Meeting in February, 1999 (Resolution #1465). A 2-acre buffer was granted preliminary approval as an addition to Paintbrush Prairie at the Commission's 163rd Meeting in May, 1999 (Resolution #1478). TNC and INPC staff recommended final approval for dedication of 12.1 acres (10.1 acres as nature preserve and 2-acre buffer) as an addition to Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 18 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated she was pleased that TNC has proceeded with the protection of these areas.
164-19) Lake Co. - Addition to Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Loretta Arient presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition to Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve. Lloyd's Woods is an integral part of a protected corridor of woodlands that extend along the Des Plaines River that was identified on the INAI (#663) for extant high-quality mesic upland forest. Mrs. Glen (Marion) Lloyd currently owns Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve and proposes to dedicate 1.8 acres as an addition. Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve was granted preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 77th Meeting in January, 1980 (Resolution #534). Reiteration of final approval was granted by the Commission at its 91st Meeting in October, 1982 (Resolution #688). Approximately 96 acres of high-quality mesic upland and floodplain forest were preserved by Mrs. Glen Lloyd when the Commission granted final approval for dedication of Lloyd's Woods as an Illinois Nature Preserve (INPC 1980). Subsequently, the Commission granted preliminary approval for dedication of two additions (Anderson 1991), totaling 8.6 acres, at its 132nd Meeting in August, 1991 (Resolution #1091). Final approval for those additions was granted at the Commission's 133rd Meeting in October, 1991 (Resolution #1101). The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of two additional tracts of land, totaling 47 acres, at its 154th Meeting in February, 1997 (Resolution #1340). Final approval of those two additions was granted at the Commission's 159th Meeting on August 6, 1997 (Resolution #1374). At the Commission's 163rd Meeting on May 4, 1999 (Resolution #1479) preliminary approval was granted for 1.8 acres as an addition to Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve. Loretta said she had an opportunity to visit this site and meet Mrs. Glen Lloyd. Mrs. Lloyd's commitment in preserving this high-quality natural resource is reflected in her continued trust in the INPC, along with Steven Byers' management guidance. This instrument of dedication for Mrs. Lloyds' third and final addition to Lloyds Woods varies slightly from the traditional document. With the assistance of Bob Best, representing Mrs. Lloyd, and Carolyn Grosboll, the document was altered to reference an easement so that the LCFPD, with prior notification to Mrs. Lloyd and INPC, could continue the maintenance of an existing trail and footbridge known as the Des Plaines River Trail. This easement was also proposed in the preliminary document presented at the Commission's 163rd Meeting in May, 1999. On behalf of Mrs. Glen Lloyd, the INPC staff recommend final approval for dedication of 1.8 acres as an addition to Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve increasing the amount of land preserved from 151.6 acres to 153.4 acres.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Schneiderman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
164-20) LaSalle Co. - Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve, Dedication
Brian Reilly presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing as a nature preserve. The proposed Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve is a 17-acre parcel on the north shore of the Fox River. Owned by IDNR, this site is a quarter-mile long cliff, forming a scenic bend in the river. It is located less than a quarter of a mile north of the Lower Fox River - Wedron Palisades Nature Preserve. The lower Fox River was identified on the INAI (#1444) as an "outstanding example of the rivers and creeks of the Illinois River watershed". The river also provides habitat for the state-endangered greater redhorse, (Moxostoma valenciennesi), and the state-threatened river redhorse, (Moxostoma carinatum). Although Blake's Landing was not identified on the INAI, it qualifies as an Illinois Nature Preserve because of its high natural quality, geologic features, and shoreline to the Fox River. Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing was conferred preliminary approval for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve at the Commission's 163rd Meeting on May 4, 1999 (Resolution #1480).
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of the Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve in LaSalle County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 20 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
164-21) Madison Co. - Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary Addition of Buffer to John M. Olin Nature Preserve, Amendment to Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for final approval for the amendment to the dedication of Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary Addition of Buffer to John M. Olin Nature Preserve. The addition of the Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary as buffer to the John M. Olin Nature Preserve was conferred final approval for dedication at INPC's 163rd Meeting on May 4, 1999 (Resolution #1482). This amendment is proposed to provide a corrected legal description for the property, since an incorrect legal was previously provided. The Great Rivers Land Trust owns the 42.38-acre parcel for which the amendment is being presented. The Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary is adjacent to the John M. Olin Nature Preserve and is an important addition to the complex of contiguous lands that encompasses the John M. Olin Nature Preserve, Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve, and Oblate Fathers' Woods Nature Preserve. This addition will increase the amount of contiguous preserved land, currently 350 acres, to 393 acres. The property helps protect a variety of important biotic features on the three adjoining nature preserves.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the amendment to the dedication of Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary addition of buffer to John M. Olin Nature Preserve in Madison County providing a corrected legal description for the property, as described in the proposal presented under Item 21 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
Chair Fraker congratulated Debbie for discovering the error in the legal description.
Debbie stated that there will be another addition to this site for the Commission to consider which is the exact same acreage as this addition. A survey was done for the next addition and the landowner initially pulled the legal description for that newly surveyed piece for the final dedication document for this tract. The landowner soon discovered the mistake.164-22) Vermilion Co. - Jordan Creek of the North Fork Nature Preserve, Dedication
Mary Kay Solecki presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Jordan Creek of the North Fork as a nature preserve. The Outdoor Heritage Foundation (OHF) proposes to dedicate a 0.97-mile long segment of Jordan Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Vermilion River as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The site is located approximately 15 miles north of Danville in the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. The proposed nature preserve is a 0.97-mile long segment of Jordan Creek and a 200-foot wide strip on either side of the centerline of the creek, totaling about 46.8 acres. Jordan Creek is recognized as an outstanding example of the streams of the Wabash-Ohio River watershed. Five state-endangered mussels occur in the creek at this site. These are the slippershell (Alasmidonta viridis), wavy-rayed lamp mussel (Lampsilis fasciola), purple lilliput (Toxolasma lividus), rainbow (Villosa iris), and little spectaclecase (Villosa lienosa). In addition, the state-endangered red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) and northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) have been observed in the proposed nature preserve. The Commission conferred preliminary approval to dedicate this 0.97-mile long segment of Jordan Creek as a nature preserve and an additional 231.7 acres of former pasture and forest as buffer to the nature preserve at its 161st Meeting on October 27, 1998 (Resolution #1450). However, the buffer land is not proposed for final approval. The INPC staff recommends final approval for the dedication of Jordan Creek of the North Fork as an Illinois Nature Preserve.
Mary Kay introduced Bob Shifo, President of the OHF, and board member, Jim Smith. The OHF supports activities sponsored by the Vermilion County Conservation District (VCCD).
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Jordan Creek of the North Fork Nature Preserve in Vermilion County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 22 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
(Resolution 1502)164-23) Will Co. - Addition of Buffer to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Brian Reilly presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve. Messenger Woods Nature Preserve is a 407-acre natural area owned by the Forest Preserve District of Will County (FPDWC). A large portion of Messenger Woods was identified by the INAI (#884) as a Category I natural area due to the occurrence of Grade B dry-mesic upland forest and Grades A and B mesic upland forest. Portions of the natural area identified by the INAI extend onto private property surrounding the nature preserve. Anthony and Mary Pragovich own 5.1 acres of the original natural area. The Pragovichs are interested in habitat conservation and are aware of the role their property serves in buffering and preserving the intact mesic upland forest community adjacent to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve. Mr. and Mrs. Pragovich are proposing to dedicate approximately 2.75 acres of their property as nature preserve buffer. The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 162nd Meeting on February 2, 1999 (Resolution #1462).
Commissioner Schneiderman stated the second paragraph of the dedication document says, "Said buffer may be developed, managed, or used ... as may be jointly approved by the INPC and the owner or shall be managed as if it were part of the adjacent nature preserve." He wanted to know how that paragraph would be implemented.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that management implementation has to be within the guidelines of the rules for management.
Brian stated that in dedicated nature preserves, there are management plans. That paragraph is saying a nature preserve buffer will be managed as called for within the management plan for that dedicated nature preserve.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve in Will County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 23 of the Agenda for the 164th Meeting.
Chair Fraker advised the staff members that the Commission appreciates the time and effort that goes into the reports presented at the Commission meetings.164-24) Lake Co. - MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve - Request for Additional Equestrian Trail
On behalf of the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD), Jim Anderson requested that the Commission consider approval of a local trail access to the Des Plaines River Trail located within the 446-acre MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve. The proposed local access is located at the northwest corner of Illinois Route 60 and St. Mary's Road and is approximately 500 feet long. The nature preserve is bounded on the west by the Des Plaines River and to the east by St. Mary's Road. The nature preserve's northern boundary is a railroad line, and its southern boundary is Route 60. The nature preserve is a mix of dry-mesic upland forest, wetlands, northern flatwoods, and a small piece of oak savanna. The proposed 500-foot local access trail runs along an old roadway. The trail would be a 14-foot wide limestone gravel path that would provide access to a horse stable located on the southeast corner of Route 60 and St. Mary's Road. The stable is located within the 257-acre Grainger Woods Conservation Area which was donated to the LCFPD by W. W. Grainger. Currently, horses at the stable are trying to gain access to the Des Plaines River Trail. The dedication document for MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve provides for a multi-use trail. The trail is used by horses, bicyclists, and hikers. LCFPD is requesting approval for the 500-foot access and a 5 x 5 foot gravel pad to be placed at the north end of the nature preserve to provide a turn around for emergency vehicles.
Randy Heidorn reported that there are a couple of issues involved. First, the turn around area that has been requested is fairly standard. The turn around request is not something that would normally come to the Commission as long as it is done in an area with little impact to the nature preserve. Second, the original 1981 dedication document provides for a 500-foot trail easement within the nature preserve. The 500-foot corridor was provided for in the dedication document for a multi-use trail. The corridor begins at the center line of Route 60 and extends north into the nature preserve. The corridor also extends 500 feet from the center line of St. Mary's Road and extends west into the nature preserve. The existing multi-use trail was established in the early 1990's based on that language. Commission staff felt that this current request required further discussion because the proposed access point was not envisioned at the time the Des Plaines River Trail was built. The concern was that multiple access areas were being sought that were not envisioned at the original time of the trail establishment. Randy further stated that he requested the county to inform him of where any future accesses were planned to be. The county has indicated that no further access points will be necessary. Primary issues of concern relate to the level and intensity of use that this access might create relative to this site. From a biological standpoint, the access may not have any impacts since it follows an old road.
Jim Anderson stated that currently there are two major access points to the site. One is a bridge that goes underneath Route 60 along the Des Plaines River. The second access is an underpass at St. Mary's Road. There are two service access points. One goes into dedicated buffer, and one comes off of Route 60.
Carolyn Grosboll asked Jim to describe how the horses would get across Route 60 and what the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has recommended.
Jim stated that the LCFPD has talked with IDOT and the Lake County Department of Transportation (LCDOT). IDOT would have control over Route 60, and LCDT would have control over St. Mary's Road. LCDT has agreed to install crossing lights, and both have given approval for the horses to walk across the road. The crossing lights would have a button to push to receive notification of when to walk across the road.
Chair Fraker asked where the current equestrian entrances to the trail are located.
Jim stated that there is a parking lot that is used for canoe launching that could be used to drop off a horse. The Half Day Forest Preserve is further south where a trailer could be parked. The Old School Forest Preserve is further north on the trail system. The trail at MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve can be accessed by parking in one of those sites and walking into MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the stable was driving this request and if the stable is owned by the same unit of government that owns the forest preserve.
Jim stated that the LCFPD owns the land and the stable, but the stable has been leased to a concessionaire.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the stable has historically been there.
Jim stated that the stable was part of the donation by the Graingers to the Forest Preserve District.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked where the horses from that stable currently go and how they get there. He further asked what do the people do when they come to the stable to pick up their horse.
Jim stated that at the present time the people are riding on the stable property. Also, there are fields along St. Mary's Road, and that is the only place they can currently ride at the present time.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if they could get to the trail.
Jim stated that they are not supposed to, but there is illegal access along the proposed corridor. Signs have been posted to try to restrict that access, but the signage has been unsuccessful.
Commissioner Ranney asked how many horses are currently at the stable.
Jim stated that there are approximately 70 horses at the stable.
Commissioner Ranney asked about future plans for the stable and if expansion of the stable was anticipated.
Jim stated that the stable could expand, but he did not know if there were plans to do so. He was not aware of any expansion plans for the district, but he would need to confirm that.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked about the duration of the stable lease.
Jim stated he thought it was a five year lease, but he would have to confirm this.
Commissioner Ranney asked if it was anticipated that other people besides people with horses at that stable might use this proposed access.
Jim asked if Commissioner Ranney was asking if people coming in with horse trailers and parking would be using the trails. He does not foresee that, but he would have to verify that.
Commissioner Ranney asked if people living in Mettawa would use the proposed access.
Jim stated that currently there is no trail connection in the area. Riders may be riding along St. Mary's Road. Jim stated that there is another smaller stable along Route 60 that would not use the proposed access.
Commissioner Ranney asked if riders from that stable could go along the right-of-way south of Route 60, then cross at the proposed access point.
Jim stated that they can, but he did not think they were doing it legally. That has been an issue with that stable. Riders are crossing the road but have been advised that this was not appropriate. Also, the stable would have to get permission from IDOT to ride along the easement.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked who owns the property where that stable is located.
Jim stated that the property is privately owned. An alternative was considered to place the trail along IDOT's right-of-way. IDOT has said they do not want that to happen. They have plans to widen Route 60 to six lanes, and they would not want to have to acquire additional easement to accommodate a horse trail. Another alternative was to locate the trail along the north side of Route 60 which would impact the nature preserve. It was also considered to locate a trail along St. Mary's Road to an existing access point, but that would put people along a very busy road without any control. Both road agencies prefer to have the horses cross and get right into the preserve and onto the Des Plaines River Trail.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that she was under the impression that the public could rent horses to ride at the stable located at Route 60 and St. Mary's Road.
Jim stated that he did not believe that was the case. The stable is a boarding facility where people board their horses. The problem is that they have no place to ride.
Commissioner O'Keefe noted that this property was a recent addition to the LCFP through a donation. The whole package was a wonderful addition to the forest preserve system. She wanted to know what the long-term plan was for the stable.
Jim stated that he thought it would be operated as a concessionaire for private boarders. He did not think that the private concessionaire could rent horses to the public.
Carl Becker asked Jim, with Route 60 being expanded to six lanes, would IDOT have concerns about horse access across six lanes of traffic.
Jim stated that IDOT has granted permission as long as light control structures are in place.
Carl further stated that currently the trail is designed for some level of use, and if the riders are able to have access, how much more use would that trail receive.
Jim stated that it would be whatever horses the stable would have, but all 70 horses would not be riding at the same time. He did not see the use of the trail increasing that much. He stated that Lake County's experience has been that once the trail system is built, horses use it, and they stay on the trail. The trail system is designed to withstand horse traffic. The trail is crushed granite, and it forms a hard surface that the horses can walk on. There will be an increased use with the horses from the stable, but he did not feel it would be a significant increase to impact the site.
Carl asked if Jim thought it would double the use.
Jim stated that it may double the use of this small portion, but he did not think that doubling it would have an impact. From his experience of being on the trail, he does not see horses on the trail very often. He mostly sees people walking on the trail or riding their bicycles. He stated that they have done prescribed burns in this area, and they very seldom see horses coming through. There is a little more horse activity on the weekends.
Commissioner Ellis asked about the expenditure of public funds for private enterprise in this case. It has been said that the proposed access will be limited to this one stable, but public money is being spent which will benefit that private enterprise.
Jim stated that the proposed access is not just for this stable.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked Carolyn Grosboll to tell him what the staff's position is on this issue.
Carolyn stated that there are some unanswered questions regarding the stable's future growth and use. The INPC staff may need more information before a decision can be made.
Jack Tindall, Trustee of the Village of Mettawa, stated that he supported the Forest Preserve District's request for this short access trail. All of MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve is within the Village of Mettawa. The Village has approximately 27% of its land in forest preserve and open space. This is quite unusual for most villages. The Village has always supported open space and is very interested in maintaining it. He read a short statement on behalf of the Board:
"To the Commissioners of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: On behalf of the Mayor and Board of Trustees of the Village of Mettawa, I ask that the Commission grant the request of the Lake County Forest Preserve District for the short access trail from the northwest corner of State Route 60 and St. Mary's Road to the Des Plaines River Trail. The Village of Mettawa is divided into four segments by these two major highways, State Route 60 and St. Mary's Road which is a major county road. (Mr. Tindall then added the following thoughts before getting back to the Village statement.) This stable is an issue, but the Village has residents on all three quadrants of that corner, residents who walk and bike. I live very near this trail. I don't have horses myself, but I would say that 97% of the activity that you observe on the trail are bikers and people walking and running. The horse use of the trails, in my opinion, based on my observation, is very minor. I would further comment that this stable, along with any others in the area, have been there for years and riders have been using this trail. It is not that the stables are new and riders are going to just start using the trail. They are using the trail, but currently they have to walk down Route 60 to the existing access near the river, which they do. If a horse gets spooked by a fast moving car, you have a big problem. There have been problems. On St. Mary's Road, a horse was killed trying to walk along that road. The other route to gain access would be to go way up St. Mary's Road. People are getting on the trail one way or another. I would suggest that there will not be an increase in use because of this access. To continue with my comment, the only way you can have safe access provided for citizens, bikers, and horses is by the stoplight control buttons Jim eluded to earlier which have been approved. They are not activated, but they are installed and ready to go. Crossing the road is a major safety issue as far as the Village is concerned. Also, the proposed access route is over an old road bed, so you are not really impacting the forest as you might if you were cutting a new trail through the woods. It already exists and has been used for years. The trail access is a very important issue to the Village. The Village of Mettawa strongly supports the right-of-way that runs through the Lake County Forest Preserve District and hopes the Commission will grant the request. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you, and if you have any questions, I would be glad to answer them."
Chair Fraker thanked Jack Tindall for addressing the Commission.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked Jim Anderson if the District has a traffic count on the trail through MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve. She said she was finding this issue difficult. It appears that we are spending public money and going through preserve property for the benefit for this private enterprise. She is also concerned about some of the safety issues that are being raised. She asked if this mix of pedestrians, bikers, and equestrians the way Jack has described it is on a steady basis. Joyce said that it sounded like Jack was saying that 97% of the people are walking and biking, and 3% are on horses. She said that she uses the Lake County trails frequently, and she does not see horses on these multiple use trails. She has not taken the trail through MacArthur Woods and wondered what is really happening there now. Is this a case of addressing an existing problem and actually solving a problem, or are we creating a bigger problem. She would really like to see that information as well and wondered what the LCFPD's long range plan is regarding these issues.
Jim stated that he did not believe the District has any general use information, but he would have to check to see if an actual survey has been done. Horse use is not really geared toward this section of the trail as compared to the northern section of the Des Plaines River Trail and at the Lakewood site near Wauconda, Illinois where there is an expectation for a lot of horse use.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he finds that if the staff is not telling the Commissioners that this is a real bad thing to do, then it seems to him that the arguments made by the Village are persuasive. He gave the staff one more chance to tell him that this access is bad for the nature preserve, and if they will not, he is inclined to support the access.
Commissioner Ranney stated that she would like to make two points. One is that equestrian use is not a Lake County issue. It is a state-wide issue. The possible damage from horse use on nature preserves is very evident to us from the natural areas in the Shawnee National Forest. The audience did not receive before this meeting the barrage of articles about horse problems in the Shawnee that the Commission did. We also have to think about setting a precedent here that may effect other nature preserves throughout the state. In Lake County, the LCFPD is buying land across the river from the Edward L. Ryerson Nature Preserve so the horse trail does not go through Ryerson Woods Nature Preserve. We have McHenry County Conservation District watching us closely to see what we decide on this issue because if we allow access here, they will be back to us with their previous trail issue saying you let them have it. We have to think about this carefully. Any decision we make here is not just about this nature preserve. She understands the LCFPD's intension to try to serve many classes of uses of the forest preserve. She grew up riding, and she would love to ride on that trail, on the other hand, we as the Nature Preserves Commission need to weigh this issue because of the possible precedence. She stated that she worries a lot about the fact that the trail is a multi-use trail. She went to the trail this past weekend, and there were many families with young children on bikes, there were long distance bikers going fast, and there were runners. It is a heavily used trail on a summer weekend. It is a beautiful facility for everyone in the county. It connects to the Cook County trail, and it is not very far from connecting all the way to the Wisconsin border. It is heavily used now by children and families, and she worries about injecting 70 horses, plus horses from the other stable that is there, plus any people from Mettawa parking their trailers there and using the trail as well. There is a high population of horse owners in Mettawa. It is a scale of use question. The use is something the Commission really needs to think about here. As she understands it, this trail access is not being asked for just pedestrians or just for bikers. This is specifically a multi-use trail, and the Commission needs to look carefully about numbers and future numbers. It is justified to ask how big can this stable be, and how many other stables are there around.
Jim stated that he is completely flabbergasted at how well people have stayed on the district trails. This is throughout the county system. One of the reasons the District wants to provide the access is to get the people on the trails. He understands the Commission's concern about the precedent being set, however, he thought that MacArthur Woods is already a site that allows horses on it. We are not introducing a new use. The District is willing to table the subject and come back to the Commission with additional information regarding the number of horses that would potentially use the site.
Commissioner Nevling stated that it had been mentioned earlier that the highway may be expanded to six lanes, and he asked where the land for that would come from.
Jim stated that IDOT currently owns that additional right-of-way, and that the road would expand to the south.
Randy Heidorn stated that IDOT has the legal right to 100 feet of the center line, north into the nature preserve. That was reserved at the time of the dedication.
Commissioner Nevling asked how close that would put the roadway to the current trail.
Jim stated that the trail may have to be relocated if the roadway went north.
Commissioner Nevling asked if anyone from IDOT has any concerns with moving horses across a six lane road.
Jim stated that IDOT felt it was the preferred option.
Commissioner Nevling asked if there was someone at the meeting from IDOT that would care to confirm this.
Jim stated that a letter from IDOT on this topic was given to the Commissioners in their Agenda packet.
Commissioner Ranney asked if the letter was speaking of the four lane present highway or the six lane future highway.
Jim stated that IDOT is very aware of the six lane highway. IDOT initially gave the District a response that they would be willing to work with LCFPD along the north side of the nature preserve, but that would not make any sense because it would parallel the current trail and also that area is wet. On the second response from IDOT, they gave the District approval for going across the highway. There would be a crosswalk system activated by a push button. It would provide a controlled access across Route 60.
Commissioner Pierce moved that the Commission table this issue until more information is obtained regarding the impact to the nature preserve. Commissioner Schneiderman seconded the motion, and a vote was taken - 2 in favor, 5 opposed. The motion failed to pass.
Jack Tindall stated that the people in Mettawa that own horses are using the trail one way or another. As Commissioner Ranney stated from her visit to the trail, she saw little horse use and mostly families biking or hiking. That has been the extent of equestrian use for years, and the stable has been in operation for years. The horses in our Village that use the trail have used it ever since it has been in existence. The District is not introducing a new use. There is no parking in the stable property for the public. The parking lot is only for the people who keep horses at this semi-private stable. The Commission would not be introducing additional horses. The Commission would be approving a safe way that people, horses, and bikers can cross the highway. Now they are running along the county and state highway in a very dangerous manner.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the LCFPD would be willing to accept as a condition of approval that when the lease for the stable comes up for renewal, that the lease be amended to include a restriction that the stable cannot provide parking places for people who are not keeping horses at the stable.
Jim stated that it would be his recommendation to table the issue based on the fact that there is certain information the Commission is asking for from the LCFPD. He felt sure he could obtain the answers to any questions the Commission may have.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that she doesn't like sending the forest preserve district staff back for more information. This is something where we need to be working together and set up a joint committee. She recommended tabling this issue until the LCFPD has prepared more information and a joint committee can examine the issues and try to resolve them before the issue comes back to the Commission.
Chair Fraker stated that he would nominate a committee, including two Commission members and one staff member, and invite the LCFPD to include members also, with the same ratio of 2 and 1. We will see if that committee will be able to come back to the 165th Meeting of the INPC in October with recommendations.
Jack asked if the Commission could outline the questions so the committee will know what it needs to look at.
Chair Fraker stated he would prefer the committee to go out and obtain the information they need rather than outlining the questions here today. This process would obviously include consulting the Village of Mettawa since the Village has such a strong connection to this issue.
Jack asked why the Commission is hesitant to move forward today.
Chair Fraker stated that it was partly because this issue came up at the very last minute, and the INPC staff has not had time to address it in detail. In fairness to everyone, a committee may be the most intelligent way to study the issue rather than to come up with restrictions that really make no sense on this issue. The Village will have plenty of chances to have input on this.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that the concept of the committee is to work out the issues and find an answer before the next meeting. This is being done not just to gather information, but to solve the problem. The Commission is sensitive to this issue.
Commissioner Ellis stated that there has been a lot of talk about what kind of traffic is on this trail. He thinks it is acceptable for the Commission to get this information, but it is not within INPC's jurisdiction to decide who uses the trail and at what percentage. The Village and the LCFPD should make the decision as to what kind of multiple use they want on their trail system. The Commission is trying to ascertain the facts to make sure the Commission makes the correct decision, one that is justifiable in this situation. The Commission is also thinking of this decision's precedence for other decisions that the Commission will make in the future.
Commissioner Ranney stated that she brought up the issues of use because she thinks it is appropriate for the INPC to consider the scale of use. If you are adding 70 horses that were not using the trail before, or giving easy access to 70 horses that had very difficult access before, you are dramatically changing the scale of use. She feels it is appropriate for the Commission to consider these questions before a decision is made on whether to grant that access.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Pierce, and carried that this issue be tabled and a committee be formed to address this issue.
Chair Fraker proposed that Commissioner Ranney be the Chairman of this committee, and that Commissioner O'Keefe would also serve on this committee. Steven Byers was appointed as the staff representative. Jim Anderson was asked to have the District Board nominate two LCFPD Commission members and one staff member. Chair Fraker asked if the Village of Mettawa wanted to be represented on this committee.
Jim stated that the Village could be represented by the LCFPD Commissioner of the Region.
Chair Fraker stated that this committee will move forward once the LCFPD members have been named and forwarded to Commissioner Ranney.
Jim thanked the Commission for the time to discuss this issue.164-25) Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve - Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Randy Heidorn updated the Commission on Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and asbestos remediation. Randy stated that investigations continue regarding the asbestos that is turning up on the beach and along the roadway at the south end of Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. A meeting was held in May, and the process of determining who is going to be involved in the cleanups in the nature preserve and other nearby sites. Pieces of the asbestos containing material were picked up by hand in January. At that time, evaluations were done for other types of contaminates that may be along the road within Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. Those reports are pending. IDNR continues to hand pick the material as it comes to the surface. To minimize potential exposure, there will likely be restrictions placed on the property in terms of access to the area. The restrictions would not be much different from what is in place at this time. The area is already closed to the public, and permits are required to go into that portion of the nature preserve. Another meeting will be held next week with all of the parties involved in the Johns Manville cleanup and the other areas located outside of the Johns Manville Property.
Another topic that was discussed at the 163rd Meeting was whether or not the Johns Manville asbestos landfill could be expanded to contain some of the sediments that are being dredged out of Waukegan Harbor. The Commission will play a role in this as it has the authority to certify whether or not the landfill will impact the nature preserve. More detailed information on the hydrology of the area is still needed before INPC will know if there will be an impact. The Illinois Sate Geological Survey and Illinois State Water Survey deemed inadequate the hydrology information that was provided by Johns Manville.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked what the decision making process is in terms of the ability to use the Johns Manville property for the sediment, and to what extent the Commission is involved in that decision.
Randy stated that when a proposal comes in for a landfill, the Commission is asked to determine whether or not drainage or leakage from the landfill will have an impact on a nature preserve.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that in accordance with Pollution Control Board (PCB) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) rules, a proposed landfill cannot be sited in an area that may injure or destroy a nature preserve. The Commission must certify whether or not there is a nature preserve within the vicinity of the proposed landfill, and if one is in the vicinity, determine whether or not there is going to be any impact.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if the authority the Commission has in this case is separate from any of the asbestos problems.
Carolyn stated, "yes." The Department of Justice, Illinois Attorney General's office, and IEPA recognize the Commission's role as far as their ability to use the site as a landfill.
Dave Thomas asked if the dredge spoil from Waukegan Harbor has PCB's under 50 parts per million.
Randy stated it was his understanding that the dredge spoil did have a low level of PCB, and that it was below the standard of 50 parts per million.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated even if this was not a nature preserve, the concern of landfills on the shoreline of Lake Michigan is a major issue because of the question of water quality.
Randy stated there is a citizens' advisory committee that was formed to deal with the harbor work. A few alternatives have been considered. Other alternatives are lake disposal of the sediment or trucking the sediment out. There has been some resistance from the surrounding community on these two suggestions. At this point, the citizens' advisory committee is most supportive of the landfill option. A final decision has not been made, but of the three alternatives that have been considered, the landfill option is being seriously considered. The in-lake disposal is not a likely option for obvious reasons, and trucking of the sediment is expensive. An infrastructure would have to be created to accommodate the trucks and trucking through a residential community which also poses a problem.
164-26) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Dave Monk, of ERES, stated he has been walking the Old Nickel Plate Line, and he found it to be relatively intact. The Paxton area has an understanding of prairies. There is good prairie down Route 45, and there is a cemetery. He wanted to encourage the Commission to watch this corridor. A small amount of this corridor is being dug up for its gravel, but it is still relatively intact. He felt it may be possible to do something with this corridor. He said he has learned at Rails-to-Trails and Greenway meetings that the number of land trusts have been going up considerably, and he wanted to know if there was a mechanism the Commission could create to establish a land trust between the farmers on the Nickel Plate without there being any State involvement. He felt this process was well known on both the east and west coasts, but not so well known in the midwest.
Mary Kay Solecki gave a brief synopsis of the Commission's past activities on this site. The railroad line has three INAI sites. One of them is one of two known locations for a State endangered species. The Commission did try to the best of its ability to have the entire site purchased by a conservation group. This was an abandoned railroad before it went to the Landowners Association. The title was not clear, and there was a very active Landowners Association composed of farmers who wanted to buy the entire abandoned railroad line to be divided between the adjacent landowners, and that is what happened. Mary Kay stated after it was acquired by the Landowners Association, she was able to get a local conservation group, The Grand Prairie Friends, involved. That group went to the Landowners Association, and there were various meetings to impress upon the landowners the importance of the INAI site. The landowners understood, but they wanted to have control of the property for drainage purposes. The landowners also had a fear of riffraff coming through their farmland. The Grand Prairie Friends offered to purchase the high-quality prairie property at a premium from individual owners. None of the landowners took advantage of that offer. However, many of the owners are protecting it in their own ownership.
Chair Fraker asked if this site would qualify for dedication as a nature preserve.
Mary Kay stated the site would qualify as a nature preserve, and she has tried to get the landowners to do this.
Carolyn Grosboll asked if the site could be designated a Natural Heritage Landmark (NHL).
Mary Kay said that she has been unsuccessful in getting the landowners to enroll in any program.
Julene Perbohner stated she and her mother, Jewel Hahn, are owners of Julia M. & Royce L. Parker Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County. She wanted to address the Commission regarding Class III Special Resource Groundwater. She was one of the attorneys involved in doing the first designation. Ms. Perbohner stated the Commission is currently working to get all nature preserves that are groundwater dependent designated, and that effort is to be applauded. Also, there is a task force to look at the standards that will be necessary. The problem that she sees is in the area of enforcement of these standards. The groundwater recharge areas do not go by property boundaries, and there are private property rights issues involved. Even though monitoring wells are placed in the wetlands, in order to determine where contamination is coming from that is altering the nature preserve, there has to be some form of access to the upstream contaminating sources. She felt that could be done by either of two ways. It could be done by using the existing drinking water wells, or if there are none, gaining the ability to install monitoring wells to see if any suspected source is present. This would involve an amendment to some of the statutes to avoid the issue of trespass.
The second issue she wanted to discuss was the IEPA's powers to enforce these Class III designations. Their purposes and goals may or may not overlap with the INPC. She felt it would seem prudent that the Commission would somehow be able to step up to the plate and enforce their own concerns in the event the IEPA could or would not. She felt it would be a prudent legal action for the long-term enforcement of the nature preserves if there could be some form of amendment that would allow the INPC to request directly that the Attorney General step in and enforce the laws rather relying on another agency.
Chair Fraker thanked Ms. Perbohner for making this presentation. He asked Carolyn Grosboll to respond to this issue.
Carolyn stated that she agreed it was important to have a mechanism in place to be able to enforce these delineations and designations once they are granted. As Ms. Perbohner mentioned, the Commission has been working with the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey to develop a methodology in order to do groundwater delineations for 85 sites in northeastern Illinois. The surveys were working on the methodology last fiscal year, and that has been achieved. Hopefully, the methodology can be used this year to calculate the delineations for those 85 sites. The Commission will then move forward with the formal designation by the Pollution Control Board. There is also a committee that has been appointed within IDNR to determine how these enforcement standards should be formulated. Once that has been accomplished, work will begin with IEPA to develop the regulations. Regarding the amendment to enforce the provisions, the Commission may already have the authority in a broader sense. The Commission does have the authority, whenever damage is going to occur to a nature preserve, to ask the Attorney General or State's Attorney of the county to protect the area. This is provided for under the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act. The Commission may be able to make the provision more specific, but in a broad sense, it already has that authority.
Julene Perbohner stated it would be wonderful if the Commission would consider legislation to allow the placement of monitoring wells on private property in order to obtain the scientific data necessary when issues are presented in court. This issue is very controversial, but it is critical for the successful enforcement for whatever agency that will do the enforcement.
Rita Martin stated there was nothing new to report on Lyman Woods, but they are still working on it. With regard to land and water pollution issues, she has found that the IEPA has been generous in supplying data based on past investigations. She stated that monitoring data could be obtained from the IEPA. Ms. Martin felt that the land and water pollution topic was a very difficult issue, and she hoped the Commission would continue to monitor this.
164-27) Other Business
No other business was presented.
It was moved by O'Keefe seconded by Ellis, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 2:15 p.m.