University of Illinois
1101 S. Goodwin Avenue
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 9:00 a.m.
183-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 9:10 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Allread, the meeting began.
Don McFall gave the roll call.
Members present: Jill Allread, Kristi DeLaurentiis, Harry Drucker, Dr. Ronald Flemal, Jill Riddell, Bruce Ross-Shannon, John Schwegman, and John Sommerhof.
Dr. Richard Keating.
Others present: Steven Byers, Judy Faulkner Dempsey, Bob Edgin, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Angella Moorehouse, John Nelson, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, Kim Roman, and Mary Kay Solecki, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Tim Kelley and Patti Reilly, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Penny Snyder, Wildlife, IDNR; Kathi Davis and Brian Reilly, Office of Realty and Environmental Planning (OREP), IDNR; Jonathan Furr, Chief Legal Counsel, IDNR; Randy Nyboer, Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB) and Illinois Natural History Survey, IDNR; Fran Harty, The Nature Conservancy (TNC); INPC Consultant Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society (IAS); Maureen Addis, Sue Dees, and Mike McLuckie, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); INPC Consultant Ken Robertson, Illinois Natural History Survey, IDNR; Former INPC Chair Guy Fraker; INPC Consultant John White, Ecological Services; Deanna Glosser, Environmental Planning Solutions; David Monk, Educational Resources in Environmental Sciences (ERES); and Doris Westfall.
Chair Allread thanked Kevin Cummings, Rob Wiedenmann, and John Taft from the Illinois Natural History Survey for their presentations to the INPC staff on Monday, August 2, 2004. She also thanked Mary Kay Solecki for hosting a reception for the INPC staff on Monday evening, August 2, 2004.
183-2) Adoption of Agenda
Don McFall stated that Item 13 will be presented after Item 11. Item 19 will be presented after Item 20. Representatives from the IDOT have requested to address the Commission regarding the proposed Kedzior Woodlands addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve. He also stated that Jonathan Furr, Chief Legal Counsel, IDNR, will address the Commission regarding ethics training.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the Agenda be adopted as amended.
183-3) Approval of the Minutes of the 182nd Meeting, May 4, 2004
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the Minutes of the 182nd Meeting, May 4, 2004, be approved as presented.
Chair Allread reported that at the 182nd Meeting of the INPC, held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe on May 4, 2004, legal protection for six tracts of land totaling 568 acres was approved by the Commission. Four of the six areas are owned by private individuals or not-for-profit corporations who donated the value of the protection agreement to the public. The dollar value of the tracts of private land is $251,000, based on conservative estimates of the fair market value of the land. This private land was permanently preserved without acquisition of the land by the State. Private lands protected without State acquisition at the 182nd Meeting of the INPC were an addition to Thistle Hills Nature Preserve, McDonough County, 114 acres; Sibley Grove, Ford County, 50 acres; Nitch addition to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve, Kane County, 1 acre; and Short Fork Seep, McDonough County, 42 acres. A total of 207 acres of private land was protected. Protection of this land came about because the INPC has eight staff in the field working with private landowners. There are now 321 dedicated nature preserves in 79 counties totaling 43,382 acres and 108 land and water reserves in 50 counties totaling 33,789 acres.
183-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Meeting Date Location
184 26 October, 10:00 a.m. - Giant City Lodge, Makanda
183-5) 2005 Proposed Meeting Schedule
1 February, 10:00
a.m. - Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield
3 May, 10:00 a.m. - Western Illinois University, Macomb
2 August, 9:00 a.m. - Morton Arboretum, Lisle
25 October, 10:00 a.m. - Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by DeLaurentiis, and carried that the proposed meeting schedule be approved as presented.
183-6) Election of Officers - INPC Nominating Committee Report
Chair Allread stated that her term as Chair of the INPC has been a marvelous, yet challenging and rewarding opportunity for her personally. She stated that as she closes out her tenure as Chair, she would like to thank the staff and fellow Commissioners for the support that she was given to increase the public awareness of the INPC over the last six years. She stated that it was her goal to increase the visibility of the INPC, and she feels that she has reached that goal as more people know that the INPC is a valuable asset to the people of Illinois. She encouraged the staff to continue the wonderful work that they have been doing. People throughout the State rallied behind the INPC, as well as other opportunities to support open space, recreation, and parks by getting the budget restored.
Commissioner Riddell stated that the Committee wishes to place the following nominations for officers before the Commission for consideration: for Chair, Commissioner Harry Drucker; for Vice-Chair, Commissioner Bruce Ross-Shannon; and for Secretary, Commissioner John Schwegman. All have agreed to serve if elected.
Chair Allread asked for any nominations from the floor, and none were offered.
It was moved by Flemal, seconded by Sommerhof, and carried that the following Commissioners be elected as Officers of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Harry Drucker as Chair, Bruce Ross Shannon as Vice-Chair, and John Schwegman as Secretary.
Chair Drucker stated that Commissioner Allread’s tenure was unusually busy with milestones to celebrate and difficult challenges. The dedication of the 300th nature preserve occurred under her tenure, along with the 40th anniversary of the INPC. With her background in public relations, Commissioner Allread provided positive media coverage of these events and elevated the extremely important work that the Commission does within the State of Illinois. A particularly difficult challenge faced by Commissioner Allread dealt with the budget crisis, and she was able to inform the people of Illinois about the importance of the Commission. The Commission is thankful to the Governor and the legislators for restoring the funding for the INPC. The Commission will now be able to continue its efforts to protect the natural areas in Illinois.
Chair Drucker presented Commissioner Allread with a framed photo of Heron Pond Nature Preserve with an inscription, "This token of appreciation is presented to Jill Allread in recognition of her outstanding leadership in saving Illinois natural treasures, and with profound gratitude for her exemplary and dedicated service to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission as its Chair from 2002-2004. Presented this 3rd day of August, 2004."
Commissioner Allread stated that she would like to thank everyone, and even though her tenure as Chair was challenging at times, it was also very rewarding. She stated that the INPC is the most dedicated group of people that she has ever had the privilege of working with and working for. It will be a continued challenge to preserve open space as it becomes more and more valued by those who want to protect it and by those who want to develop it. The Commission’s work is not done, and she encouraged everyone to continue the great work. She stated that she will continue to support the Commission.
Don McFall stated that, on behalf of the INPC staff, he would like to thank Jill Allread for everything she has done for the Commission.
183-7) Election of Advisors and Consultants
Commissioner Riddell stated that a list of the nominated advisors and consultants is on the Agenda under Item 7. There are no changes from the current year.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the following be elected as advisors to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Dr. William Shilts, Dr. George Vander Velde, and Dr. Derek Winstanley, and the following be elected as consultants to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Gerald Adelmann, Dr. Robert Betz, Bruce Boyd, Marilyn Campbell, John Comerio, Kenneth Fiske, Jerry Paulson, Al Pyott, Dr. Kenneth Robertson, Valerie Spale, John Schmitt, and John White.
thanked the Advisors and Consultants for their willingness to serve when called
upon, and these people were instrumental in joining a team of others who stepped
forth and represented what the INPC and the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF)
is all about.
183-8) INPC Staff Report
Don McFall stated that the General Assembly passed the State’s fiscal year 2005 budget, and it was signed by the Governor. The Commission’s budget was approved at $1,216,000, which is the same amount as it was for fiscal year 2004. This appropriation is a lump sum amount payable from the NAAF. The Commission will be able to function at its current level.
Mr. McFall stated that two new Natural Heritage Landmarks were enrolled into the program. Debbie Newman enrolled Four Our Future, a 33-acre privately owned site in St. Clair County. This site is adjacent to Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve. Plum Island Natural Heritage Landmark in La Salle County, in the Illinois River at Starved Rock, is a 50-acre floodplain island owned by the Illinois Audubon Society.
Marilyn Campbell stated that the Illinois Audubon Society would have liked to have placed a higher form of protection on this site, however, the site did not qualify as a land and water reserve or a nature preserve because of easements held on the island by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
John Nelson stated that he was pleased to announce that the situation at Santa Fe Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County has been resolved. A court date for the criminal case against the three truck drivers that washed out their cement trucks into the Nature Preserve was scheduled for July 15, 2004. The parties settled out of court on July 13, 2004. The written settlement covered both the criminal and civil cases, along with the civil case against Prairie Materials. Prairie Materials has agreed to pay a fine of $50,000 to Cook County for violation of open dumping. The violation of the Natural Areas Preservation Act (NAPA) was dropped in lieu of this fine. Prairie Materials also agreed to donate $10,000 to the Nature Preserve’s owner, Illinois Michigan Canal Civic Center Authority. The money will be used for management activities to restore the Nature Preserve. He stated that all the parties involved were satisfied with the results. Mr. Nelson stated that he worked closely with the IDNR Conservation Police Officers, the Cook County States Attorney’s office, and the volunteers at the Nature Preserve.
Mr. Nelson updated the Commission on the activities at Redwing Slough/Deer Lake Land and Water Reserve in Lake County. A letter of violation of the NAPA was sent to the Pulte Homes Corporation after Brad Semel, Restoration Ecologist with the IDNR, notified the Commission on June 9, 2004 that a large amount of sediment was being discharged into Redwing Slough. The discharge was coming from a residential development. Consultation was done with Pulte Homes Corporation to properly plan for this development next to the sensitive area, and the consultation went on for four years. When the work was implemented, there was no erosion control. Trees were cleared, dirt was moved, and a drain tile was broken. This allowed the sediment to run into Redwing Slough. A meeting was held at the site with Pulte Homes Corporation two days after the violation letter was issued. The Pulte Homes Corporation staff addressed all the concerns, and they have implemented erosion control and improved the storm water management design on their property. Pulte Homes Corporation will also be doing work on the IDNR property to compensate for the damage.
Mr. Nelson stated that John Steffen, Du Page County Department of Environmental Planning and Development, gave a presentation at the 183rd INPC Meeting regarding a proposal for dam modification at Busse Woods Nature Preserve. After reviewing the file, it was determined that studies were done in 1991 to look at the water table and impacts from the dam on the oak flatwoods community. This data was collected by Applied Ecological Services (AES), but nothing was done with the data. He stated that this historical data will be helpful to Du Page County to assess potential impacts. Du Page County has contracted with AES to collect more data and summarize the historical data. Once this information has been compiled, the issue will be brought back to the Commission.
Mr. Nelson updated the Commission on the status of the implementation of the Bluff Spring Fen Protection Program. The groundwater model is ready for use as a tool to predict impacts of different activities on the landscape.
Commissioner Flemal asked when a staff member enters into negotiations, like in the case with Redwing Slough/Deer Lake Land and Water Reserve violations, does that person go by themself or with a team of people.
Mr. Nelson stated
that in most cases a representative from the IDNR also attends the meetings.
He stated that he will also talk with Don McFall prior to the meeting.
Chair Drucker stated that this underscores that once a natural area is protected, things can happen to destroy it. The protection efforts and monitoring efforts have to go on. He thanked Mr. Nelson for his efforts.
Mr. Nelson stated that the Cook County States Attorney’s office aggressively pursued the issue at Santa Fe Prairie Nature Preserve on the Commission’s behalf. The volunteers who witnessed the violation also deserve recognition for their efforts.
Chair Drucker asked Mr. Nelson to draft a letter of recognition to be sent to the Cook County States Attorney’s office thanking them for their efforts. Chair Drucker also asked that a letter be sent to recognize the efforts of the volunteers who reported the violation.
Randy Heidorn submitted the following written report to the Commission:
1. Public Use Rules: In January, 2004, the Administrative Rule entitled Regulation of Public Use of Illinois Dedicated Nature Preserves (17 Ill. Admin Code 1510) was revised by staff. This rule was located within the parks section of the Illinois Administrative Code, separate from other rules regarding the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. The rules were updated to include nature preserve buffer, clarify some of the confusion as it relates to dogs in nature preserves, incorporate technical changes relating to the formation of the IDNR, and citations of appropriate criminal code statutes relating to the personal conduct of visitors. The revisions were then codified as the Regulation of Public Use of Illinois Dedicated Nature Preserves (17 Ill. Admin. Code 4015). The old rule (17 Ill. Admin Code 1510) has been repealed.
2. Illinois Beach: The remediation and closure of the Johns Manville (JM) property, including work on the Industrial Canal that separated Illinois Beach Nature Preserve from JM, continues. Staff have reviewed plans from JM that would block northward flow of water into the Nature Preserve, but not block southward flow in the swales to the Canal. There is continuing study on exactly how the surface water hydrology works between Dead River and the swales in the Nature Preserve and the Industrial Canal. Observations have documented the water flows either direction depending on Lake Michigan levels, upland storm water flow, groundwater, and whether the Industrial Canal’s outfall to Lake Michigan is open. The intention of this design is to address the uncertainty of the hydrology by engineering a solution that can handle both directions of flow and prevent sediment laden or potentially contaminated Canal water from reaching the Nature Preserve. This could prove important during final closure of the Canal. All construction would be on JM property. Since there will be no direct change to the Nature Preserve or its hydrology, INPC approval is not required.
In early July, 2004, there were media reports that friable asbestos containing material (ACM) was found on the beach within North Dunes Nature Preserve (northern unit of Illinois Beach State Park). When investigated by the asbestos abatement contractors hired by the IDNR, it was found that the debris was paper from spent fireworks. However, the contractor found an ACM called transite. Transite is a product that consists of asbestos fibers imbedded into concrete and is generally not considered friable. ACM has been picked up from the shoreline in this region during beach sweeps. Prior to purchase of this property by the IDNR, the area contained houses and other infrastructure that were constructed using transite. It has been speculated that this transite debris may be from the old structures. It is also possible that some of the material was washed down the shoreline from the north through littoral drive, or that during beach nourishment operations, the material was accidently deposited. The ACM was collected by the contractors in accordance with the IDNR remediation procedures in place to address asbestos that washes up on the beach.
The Attorney General’s Asbestos Task Force continues to work on a comprehensive review of the asbestos at Illinois Beach. Additional background sampling has been conducted under the guidance of contractors who specialize in human public/environmental health issues from the University of Illinois-Chicago. The task force met on August 2, 2004.
Natural Areas Conference, Chicago: The registration and preliminary program
document for the Conference was mailed on July 15, 2004, to approximately 3,500
people. Several INPC staff are participating in the planning and implementation
of the conference that will be held October 13-16, 2004. The keynote speaker
will be Dr. Eric Freyfogle. Governor Blagojevich and Mayor Daley have been invited
to speak at the Conference.
183-9) IDNR Staff Report
Don McFall stated that Todd Strole, Acting Division Chief of Habitat Resources, was unable to attend this meeting. Mr. McFall stated that Brian Anderson, Director of the Office of Resource Conservation, IDNR, left State service on July 6, 2004, to assume the position of Chairman of the Department of Biology and the Physical Sciences with Lincoln Land Community College. Dr. Anderson is also a former Director of the INPC.
Anne Mankowski, Acting Regional Administrator for the Heritage efforts in northwestern, Illinois, has accepted a position as the Midwest Invasive Plan Network Coordinator with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana.
Mr. McFall reported
that the budget that was passed for fiscal year 2005 left the Heritage concerns
in good position. The funding for the Division Restoration Ecologists has been
Chair Drucker stated that approximately $5 million was allocated for the operations of the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund, of which a portion funds the INPC and the Division Restoration Ecologists. He stated that the Commission is extremely thankful that this funding was maintained. He stated that $4.5 million was allocated for the acquisition, preservation, and stewardship of natural areas. This money will be used to do stewardship and protection efforts on existing nature preserves and to acquire new natural areas. Chair Drucker stated that $6.5 million was reappropriated to cover costs that were under contract or obligated in the prior year. He stated that there were three things that were important. The General Assembly and the Governor demonstrated their long term support for natural area protection by preserving the dedicated funding source for the Commission’s activities. The dedicated funding is a percentage of the Real Estate Transfer Tax. The purpose behind this was to take the activities of the Commission to make them less political. Everyone in Illinois should be concerned about their natural heritage. Monies that were unspent last year were reallocated and can be used for the same purposes this year. The last point is that the Commission did receive full funding for its programs. This would not have happened if not for the efforts of those bringing the necessary information to the attention of the decision makers.
Commissioner Allread stated that she would like to reiterate what was said by Chair Drucker. She stated that the Commission is grateful to the Governor and the legislators for putting the funding into the budget. This accomplishment was greatly due to a group, Partners for Parks and Wildlife, that came together after February 19, 2004, when the budget was announced. This was an unprecedented coalition that came together. The Commissioners, as private citizens, were a part of this group. There were a total of 150 different groups and organizations that signed on to support this coalition, and the coalition was able to orchestrate a public education effort. This group wants to stay together. She stated that she would like to acknowledge the efforts of Partners for Parks and Wildlife and their members.
183-10) Schuyler Co. – Williams Creek Bluff Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Tim Kelley presented a proposal to register Williams Creek Bluff Land and Water Reserve. The proposed Williams Creek Bluff Land and Water Reserve, owned by the IDNR, is 75.24 acres in size and is located wholly within the boundaries of Weinberg-King State Park in Schuyler County. The proposed land and water reserve includes the Weinberg-King INAI site (#0246), which is recognized as Category I and VI for its grade B significant sandstone cliff community, grade B eroding bluff community and grade C shale glade, representative of the Galesburg Section of the Western Forest Prairie Natural Division. The primary goal for this land and water reserve is to preserve the integrity of the unique natural communities on the site. Activities to be undertaken to achieve this goal are limiting off-road, non-designated uses to control erosion and removal and control of exotic and invasive species. Existing hunting activities will continue on the site, and any new programs will follow the site resource planning process with approval by the INPC through a revised management schedule.
Mr. Kelley stated that the registration proposal states that there is an established equestrian trail within the natural area and buffer area around it. This trail will also be maintained.
Mr. Kelley thanked Angella Moorehouse for preparing the registration agreement and reserve design. The slides were also provided by Ms. Moorehouse.
Commissioner Riddell asked if there was any interest from either the IDNR or local groups to provide protection to the areas upstream.
Mr. Kelley stated that the IDNR owns some of the area upstream. Beyond that, he is not aware of any plans for more acquisition.
Chair Drucker asked if the equestrian trail is within the INAI site or just within the larger buffer boundary.
Mr. Kelley stated that the trail is not within the INAI site.
Chair Drucker asked why this site is not being presented for dedication as a nature preserve.
Mr. Kelley stated that the main reason for the land and water reserve designation is to allow some of the historic uses of the site such as hunting and equestrian use.
Chair Drucker stated that he would like to see the INAI site become a nature preserve at some point in the future.
Mr. Kelley stated that the issue could be revisted at some point in the future.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Riddell, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Williams Creek Bluff in Schuyler County as an Illinois land and water reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
183-11) Cook Co. – Addition to Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for dedication of an addition to Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve. The Nature Conservancy proposes to dedicate a 36.3-acre addition to Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve. This prairie is in an area known collectively as the Indian Boundary Prairies. The other prairies are Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve, and Dropseed Prairie Nature Preserve. The Indian Boundary Prairies are a surviving remnant of a vast prairie that once extended along Lake Michigan in the Chicago Lake Plain Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division of Illinois. Although Sundrop Prairie was not identified on the original INAI, this prairie was included on the INAI in December, 2000, for its significance as part of the Indian Boundary Prairies. Sundrop Prairie received preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission’s 145th Meeting in October, 1994 (Resolution # 1249). Final approval for dedication of 53.56 acres as an Illinois nature preserve was granted at the Commission’s 166th Meeting in February, 2000 (Resolution # 1522). In February, 2003, the Commission granted final approval for dedication of a 1.34-acre addition to Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve at its 166th Meeting (Resolution # 1704). This 36.3-acre addition will increase the size of Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve from 54.9 to 91.2 acres.
Commissioner Riddell asked if Mr. Byers has talked with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) about management of the right-of-way or the interchange along Interstate 57 in a compatible way that would increase the size and provide some sort of connective tissue.
Mr. Byers stated that he has talked with the IDOT specifically about the alignment of one of the access routes off of Interstate 57 as it might connect with the 294 tollway. Opportunities were also discussed about identifying lots owned by TNC that might be considered trade lands due to the lack of natural resource value. Working with the Tollway Authority and the IDOT to provide additional funding for management was also discussed. Mr. Byers stated that the issue of management of the right-of-way will be revisited and look at ways to include that. He stated that TNC has been aggressively pursuing acquisition of lots adjacent to the 294 tollway to preclude those from being used for locations of large signs.
stated that she resides within a few miles of this area, and she would like
to recognize TNC’s stewardship of the area. She stated that moving this
property forward for dedication precludes a lot of economic development proposals
that are going on in the area.
It was moved by DeLaurentiis, seconded by Riddell, with Drucker abstaining, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
Chair Drucker stated that other groups such as CorLands and Northeastern Illinois University have also played an important part in protecting sites in this area.
Co. – Kedzior Woodlands Addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve,
(Actually presented after Item 13)
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for preliminary approval for dedication of the Kedzior Woodlands addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve. Mr. Lerczak stated that Ken Kedzior proposes to dedicate a 69.3-acre addition, known as Kedzior Woodlands, to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve. The proposed addition is located within the Western Forest-Prairie Natural Division and consists of three tracts within a 302.54-acre site that also includes the 120-acre Kedzior Woodlands Land and Water Reserve. Native plant communities on Mr. Kedzior’s land support species that are characteristic of the Western Forest-Prairie Natural Division. The northwestern corner of Tract 1 (33.7 acres) is adjacent to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve. Most of the proposed nature preserve addition consists of second-growth mesic to dry-mesic upland oak-hickory (Quercus-Carya) forest within a steep-sided ravine system, part of which drains into the southwestern corner of Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve and then into Spoon River. Tract 2 (13.7 acres of early successional woods) is adjacent to and north of State Route 95. Tract 3 of the proposed nature preserve addition (21.9 acres) is separated from the other two proposed nature preserve tracts by State Route 95. Tract 3 supports early successional woodland plus a 2-3-acre open woodland or savanna community that includes hazelnut (Corylus americana), New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus), prairie willow (Salix humilis), melic grass (Melica nitens), and lead plant (Amorpha canescens). This remnant natural community has a good potential for recovery with renewed fire management. Mr. Kedzior wishes to add the three Kedzior Woodlands tracts to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve in order to ensure the protection of the forest and savanna/open woodland communities present on the site, to increase the diversity of community types protected as dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve at the Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve, to enhance the protection of the high-quality forest and the Spoon River at Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve; and to ensure that a proper restoration management program will maintain natural ecosystem dynamics and processes that are capable of perpetuating natural communities into the future.
Sue Dees, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Springfield, introduced Mike McLuckie, District 4 IDOT, Peoria. Mr. McLuckie stated that in November, 2003, a five year study was initiated to find a route for a four-line highway between Peoria and Macomb. A corridor study that was done in the late 1960s was also revisited. Through a series of meetings ending on June 23, 2004, an improved corridor was developed. The proposed corridor splits Illinois Route 95 near the proposed Kedzior Woodlands Addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve. He presented an aerial photo of the possible alignment for a four-lane highway. Alignments have been under review for the last several months. Several different roadway widths, anywhere from a mile and a half wide to five miles wide, have been discussed. This is being narrowed down to the actual roadway itself. One of the goals is to try to utilize as much of the existing right-of-ways, whether they be State right-of-ways, county or township roads, or old railroad right-of-ways. One of the proposed alignments would follow Illinois Route 95 near the Spoon River. This area of the Spoon River has been nominated as a wild and scenic river. The right-of-way, currently owned by the State in this area, is approximately 100-150 feet wide. If this alignment is chosen, a right-of-way of approximately 300 feet would be needed. Mr. McLuckie stated that the IDOT is interested in working with the INPC on the establishments of the boundaries for this area. Choosing another location for this highway would require another crossing of the Spoon River. Funding was only given to do the corridor study, design report, and environmental impact statement. He stated that it will take another three and one-half years to get this work completed.
Randy Nyboer asked if there is any type of citizens’ committee involved in this project.
Mr. McLuckie stated that there is a group of people from the area that are involved with this project. The IDOT meets with this group approximately three times a year, and several more meetings will be scheduled. This group was involved with the project from its beginning. He stated that there is a 336 coalition that has been actively involved. At the inception of this project, numerous people were invited to discuss the economic impacts.
Commissioner Riddell asked how this project is connected with the proposed addition being split by Illinois Route 95.
Mr. McLuckie stated that both of the tracts proposed as an addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve are adjacent to Illinois Route 95. Approximately 300 feet of right-of-way is needed to put the highway through there. A determination will need to be made as to the boundaries of this property. The proposed project would only affect the proposed addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Riddell asked if some type of culvert has been considered to allow the wildlife to safely cross the four-lane highway.
Ms. Dees stated that the consideration of a culvert is part of the normal coordination process with the resource agencies. The IDOT then works with these agencies to avoid impact or minimally impact the resources.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis stated that the IDOT has been discussing a contact sensitive solution plan for future State investments. This site is a natural area and a four-lane highway has been proposed. This area is more of a scenic byway which requires lesser impact on surrounding land. She asked if those new methods for highway alignments have been considered.
Mr. McLuckie stated that the IDOT has always been sensitive to impacts to natural areas. One of the reasons for this particular alignment was to avoid creating another crossing on the Spoon River. The Spoon River takes a big loop as it goes further south, and considering an alignment of the highway through that area may require two crossings. If the alignment is taken to the north, Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve comes into play.
Chair Drucker stated that this project presents a dilemma for the INPC. The Commission is considering the dedication of an addition to an existing nature preserve. By law, a nature preserve designation requires the highest and best use of the land. The Commission is wary of setting up a situation where there would be a need to undo a nature preserve dedication through some type of legislative action. Chair Drucker acknowledged the IDOT’s efforts to not disturb natural areas, and he stated that this is a balancing act. He thanked Mr. McLuckie for bringing this project to the Commission’s attention, and he asked that the IDOT continue to exhaust all the different alternatives before making the decision to place the alignment through this area. Chair Drucker also acknowledged the IDOT’s efforts to not disturb the Spoon River.
Mr. McLuckie stated that the IDOT was made aware of this situation just a few days ago and is exploring all posibilities. The IDOT is in the very early stages of the alignment studies, and they will look at each and every alternative.
Marilyn Campbell stated that the Kedzior Woodlands addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve is before the Commission today for preliminary approval for dedication. She urged the Commission to move forward with approving the request for preliminary dedication of this site. Commissioner Allread stated that there will be a lot of environmental disruption if there is another roadway put through along with another bridge. She asked what would happen to the existing roadway that goes through this area.
Mr. McLuckie stated that if this alignment were chosen, Illinois Route 95 would become part of the main highway in this area. If another alignment was chosen, the IDOT would prefer to leave the existing Illinois Route 95 open to provide access to that area. The IDOT has not yet decided if this project would be an expressway, which is a four-lane highway with access every half mile to a mile. Another option would be to make this a freeway like I-55 or I-74. The traffic volumes in this area are rather low, and he would be surprised if this becomes a freeway. A freeway causes more access problems.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon stated that he appreciated the fact that Mr. McLuckie attended today’s meeting to advise the Commission of this early stage of the planning for this project. This allows a dialogue to take place. He stated that a final recommendation from the Commission will not be made until the final studies have been completed, and the Commission will have to ultimately rely on staff to review the studies and make recommendations. The issue before the Commission today is to consider preliminary approval for dedication of the Kedzior Woodlands addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve. It will be up to the Governor to make the final determination for dedication of this addition at some point in the future.
Dave Monk stated that the Federal Department of Transportation has funding for studies for projects like this, and he suggested that this possibility be explored if funding is an issue.
Ms. Dees stated that the IDOT contracts with the Illinois Natural History Survey, and studies have been ongoing since March, 2004, for the entire project. Much time has been spent specifically on the area of the Spoon River because of its recognized importance. She stated that she recently received the first quarterly report, and there are singing Henslow sparrow males in the CRP land owned by Mr. Kedzior. Even through this particular parcel is not proposed for dedication, it is close to the corridor in question. There are also three listed plant species that were found within the general area. At this time, it is unknown if there are any listed species on Mr. Kedzior’s land or on the tracts that are being proposed today. She stated that the scientists are at the site to study the area and any other area within the corridor that is deemed important. Prior to that, the District did a search of the Natural Heritage Database with all three proposed corridors. In order to avoid Banner Marsh and other sensitive areas, a compromise was made to consider the corridor that is being presented today. She stated that the biological surveys will continue as long as needed.
Chair Drucker asked if Mr. Kedzior is interested in dedicating the land currently in the CRP program, if the land is suitable, once the maturity date has been reached.
Mr. Lerczak stated that Mr. Kedzior has indicated several times that his long-term goal is to dedicate all of his property.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of the Kedzior Woodlands addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve in Fulton County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
Chair Drucker thanked Ms. Dees and Mr. McLuckie for their presentation.
183-13) Jo Daviess
Co. - Addition to Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 11)
Angella Moorehouse presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of an addition to Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) proposes to dedicate 48.466 acres as an addition to the 361.7-acre Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve owned by the IDNR. This would increase the size of the Nature Preserve to more than 410 acres. Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve received final approval for dedication at the 113th INPC Meeting in May, 1987 (Resolution #929). The site lies within the Wisconsin Driftless Natural Division in western Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The proposed addition lies within the western portion of the 1,600-acre Hanover Bluff INAI site (#1058), recognized by the INAI as a Category I (high-quality dry dolomite prairie and dry sand prairie), Category II (for the presence of 11 state-endangered and threatened species), and Category III (dedicated nature preserve). One state-listed plant, meadow horsetail (Equisetum pratense), has been observed within the proposed addition to Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve. The proposed addition also contains suitable habitat for the state-endangered shadbush (Amelanchier interior) and hairy white violet (Viola incognita).
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Schwegman, with Drucker abstaining, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve in Jo Daviess County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
183-14) Lake Co.
- Addition to Hybernia Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 12)
Steven Byers presented
a proposal for final approval for dedication of an addition to Hybernia Nature
Preserve. The Hybernia Homeowners Association proposes to dedicate a .46-acre
addition, consisting of three lots, to the 27-acre Hybernia Nature Preserve.
Hybernia Nature Preserve is located within the Morainal Section of the Northeastern
Morainal Natural Division of Illinois in Lake County. The ecological significance
of this site was first recognized by the INAI in 1990 for high-quality mesic
prairie and sedge meadow plant communities (#1235). These natural plant communities
support the state-endangered and federally-threatened Eastern prairie fringed
orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) and the state-threatened small sundrops (Oenothera
perennis). Hybernia was dedicated as an Illinois nature preserve by the Red
Seal Development Corporation at the 128th INPC Meeting in August, 1990 (Resolution
#1050). The adjacent Highmoor Park Nature Preserve received final approval for
dedication at the 131st INPC Meeting in May, 1991 (Resolution #1083). The proposed
addition is also included within the INAI site and supports high-quality sedge
meadow and wet mesic prairie natural communities. Protection of the three lots
that comprise this addition are considered critical for the long-term survival
of the federally-listed Eastern prairie fringed orchid and were inadvertently
excluded from the original dedication of Hybernia Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Hybernia Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
Chair Drucker asked that the thanks of the Commission be conveyed to the Hybernia Homeowners Association.
183-15) St. Clair Co. – Addition to Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of an addition to Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve. The proposed Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve addition is 74.82 acres of mixed forest and old field prairie restoration owned by the IDNR. This addition is adjacent to and bisects the original 105-acre Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve. The proposed addition is comprised of 2 parcels, one approximately 5.5 acres running through the southern end of the Nature Preserve, and the other 69.3 acres located on the west side of the Nature Preserve. This will bring the total size of the entire Nature Preserve to approximately 200 acres. This proposed addition is important because it protects grade B dry and dry-mesic upland forest, representative of the Northern Section of the Ozark Natural Division, and numerous sinkholes within the Stemler Cave recharge area. This area is at the northern edge of the "sinkhole plain" karst region of Randolph, Monroe, and southwestern St. Clair counties. The cave was recognized by the INAI for its high-quality terrestrial and aquatic cave communities. The cave has particular importance because it was a collection site for the State and federally-endangered Illinois cave amphipod (Gammarus acherondytes) and the newly listed enigmatic cave snail (Fontigens antroectes).
It was moved by DeLaurentiis, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve in St. Clair County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
Chair Drucker asked that Ms. Newman extend the thanks of the Commission to Diane Tecic. He stated that the Commission is pleased to see the IDNR dedicating this important area as an addition to Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve.
Co. – Addition to Fairchild Cemetery Prairie/Savanna Nature Preserve,
Mary Kay Solecki presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of an addition to Fairchild Cemetery Prairie/Savanna Nature Preserve. Grand Prairie Friends-Prairie Grove Volunteers propose to dedicate an .889-acre addition to Fairchild Cemetery Prairie/Savanna Nature Preserve in Vermilion County. Fairchild Cemetery Prairie/Savanna Nature Preserve, located approximately six miles northwest of Danville, is a .5-acre nature preserve that was dedicated in 1986 to protect the high-quality savanna found here. The Nature Preserve, owned by the Vermilion County Conservation District, is included within the larger 1.5-acre Fairchild Cemetery Savanna Natural Area which is listed on the INAI (#1073) in recognition of the high-quality savanna, representative of the Vermilion River Section of the Wabash Border Natural Division. Grand Prairie Friends-Prairie Grove Volunteers recently acquired this portion of the unprotected area of the INAI site and proposes to dedicate this part of the savanna, with the exception of a public road right-of-way, as an addition to the Nature Preserve. Fairchild Cemetery Prairie/Savanna Nature Preserve and the proposed addition contains the only high-quality savanna known in east-central Illinois and this natural area is one of the few remaining savanna remnants in Illinois.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Ross-Shannon, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Fairchild Cemetery Prairie/Savanna Nature Preserve in Vermilion County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
Chair Drucker asked that the thanks of the Commission be conveyed to the Grand Prairie Friends-Prairie Grove Volunteers.
183-17) Will Co.
– Addition to Long Run Seep Nature Preserve, Dedication
Kim Roman presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of an addition to Long Run Seep Nature Preserve. The IDNR proposes to dedicate 35.75 acres as an addition to Long Run Seep Nature Preserve, and dedicate 5.75 acres as nature preserve buffer. The proposed addition is an extension of the natural communities found within the existing Nature Preserve, and may also provide suitable habitat for the state-threatened and endangered species currently inhabiting Long Run Seep Nature Preserve. The IDNR dedicated Long Run Seep as an Illinois nature preserve in 1990. Long Run Seep is recognized on the INAI (#1039) for its high-quality fen and seep communities, representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division, and the presence of three state-listed species: beaked spike rush (Eleocharis rostellata), grass pink orchid (Calopogon tuberosa), and slender bog arrow grass (Triglochin palustris). In addition, Long Run Seep is one of the few sites in Illinois to provide habitat for the federally and state-endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana). Most of the INAI site is included within the boundaries of the original 43.1-acre Nature Preserve. Since the IDNR’s original dedication of Long Run Seep, it has recently secured 41.5 acres adjacent to the Nature Preserve, completing land acquisition of the entire INAI site, and helping complete preserve design.
It was moved by Flemal, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Long Run Seep Nature Preserve in Will County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
183-18) Cass Co. – Cox Creek Hill Prairies Land and Water Reserve - Request for Snowmobile Trail
Tim Kelley stated that the IDNR is proposing the construction of a snowmobile trail in Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area which entails routing the trail through a portion of the Cox Creek Hill Prairies Land and Water Reserve. At the time of registration, no trail was included in the management program for the Land and Water Reserve. The proposed trail is located an average of 250 feet from the INAI site and will separate the Land and Water Reserve from Conservation Reserve Program tree plantings. The proposed trail route will not adversely impact the high-quality hill prairies for which the Land and Water Reserve was established and will be used as a fire break in managing the prairie and prairie restorations in the Land and Water Reserve. Other alternatives outside of the Land and Water Reserve were considered, but were less desirable due to safety concerns and snowmobile trail design standard
Mr. Kelley stated that the reason the snowmobile trail was proposed was to provide this type of activity to the public. There have been some public requests for a snowmobile trail at this site. There are extensive hiking and equestrian trails that run through Panther Creek, and there are some field trial trails at a portion of the site. There is a 17-mile mountain bike trail around Prairie Lake.
He stated that the ORC staff, site staff, and INPC staff did not have any objection to this proposal. Mr. Kelley stated that there are State regulations that require the trail not cross intermittent streams. Auto usage areas are also prohibited. This area was considered the preferred alternative because of the aforementioned restrictions. The area for the field trials was considered, however, it was determined not to be a viable alternative because the trail would have to cross intermittent streams and be in conflict with auto routes. The proposed snowmobile trail would utilize an already existing bike trail, then head west along Cox Creek which is a portion of Cox Creek Hill Prairies Land and Water Reserve. He stated that one of the advantages to considering this route is that when the Land and Water Reserve was registered, the site already had that portion along Cox Creek enrolled in the CRP program. There were 150 feet of trees planted from the bank. To the north there is a mixture of native grasses and cool season grasses to the toe of the slope where the hill prairie starts. This area is burned every four years. Federal mandate states that the tree plantings have to be maintained until they are of size that would not be affected by fire. The suggested trail route would be located between the CRP trees and the CRP grass. This is still a considerable distance away from the actual base of the slope where the hill prairie starts. He stated that there would be no resource impact to any of the sensitive natural areas with this trail alignment. There is a potential for people to ride their snowmobiles up onto the hill. If this occurs, it would become a law enforcement issue. A Conservation Police Officer (CPO) does live on site. An advantage of this trail location would be that it creates a permanent firebreak between the CRP trees and the CRP grass. This would greatly enhance the ability of the staff, as wildlife managers, to burn the area and not have to worry about impacting the federal mandate of maintaining the trees. Mr. Kelley stated that it also allows a greater usage of the site by a variety of people. The trail could also be used as a walking trail. It would be zoned that the snowmobile trail could only be used if there were four inches of snow or more. The trail availability would be on a daily call-in basis. The opening of the trail would be at the discretion of the Site Manager. This trail would be completely separate from any other trail on the site so that the only usage would be snowmobiles or foot traffic. There would be no equestrian or mountain bike use. The trail inside the Land and Water Reserve would be maintained at a maximum of six feet wide. This would consist of mowing the vegetation which would be done approximately one or two times a year.
Commissioner Riddell asked if consideration was given to overwintering hawks or owls that might be affected by the noise of the activity.
Mr. Kelley stated that he is not aware of any impact study of this nature. This area may only be used a total of two weeks out of the winter season. This time period will vary on the snowfall. He stated that the newer snowmobiles have quieter engines and lower emissions.
Marilyn Campbell stated that consideration should be given to the fact that the trail will be in use at the time when wildlife is at its most vulnerable.
Mr. Kelley stated that this is a valid concern. Hunting is allowed in the Land and Water Reserve, but this area is not highly hunted because of the up and down topography.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked if the goal of protecting the trees without creating a snowmobile trail would be accomplished if the Commission granted permission to mow a firebreak trail.
Mr. Kelley stated that would be a possibility.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked if it would be possible to allow the snowmobile trail usage for a limited time, then re-evaluate the issue. He stated that he is familiar with snowmobile usage, and there are those people who will not stay on the designated trail. He is concerned that some people will not stay on the designated trail. He asked if ATV use of the proposed trail would be allowed in the summer.
Mr. Kelley stated that ATV use is not a compatible use of this area. Snowmobiles generally require a more flat trail. Any off-trail violations would become a law enforcement issue and would be aggressively pursued. The CPO lives within two miles of this trail.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked if there was any precedence where the Commission has approved snowmobile use on any of the registered or dedicated lands within its system.
Randy Heidorn stated that the reason this issue was brought before the Commission is because snowmobile trails within a land and water reserve are permitted. He stated that up until this point, such a trail has never been brought in after registration of a site. When Cox Creek Hill Prairies Land and Water Reserve was designed, very generous buffer areas were incorporated into it. The feature that is being protected is the hill prairies. By using a large buffer area around the feature being protected, lands were brought in that were not of very high quality. Restoration work has been done in the buffer area. The request for the snowmobile trail route would be in the buffer area of the Land and Water Reserve. He stated that by allowing an activity in the periphery that may not be as compatible with the resource itself, the Commission is allowing some flexibility in the land and water design. If this flexibility is not allowed, it will be more difficult to get the buffer area. The buffer area is critical in the long-term viability of many of the sites that are brought into the land and water reserve program. He stated that staff did review this project. Once the details were discussed, staff felt comfortable with this project.
Chair Drucker asked if there is any reason why the Commission could not consider provisional approval of the snowmobile trail, then revisit the issue after a period of time to evaluate the trail usage. If there is a problem, approval could be rescinded.
Randy Nyboer stated that in the past provisional approval has been given by the Commission for other issues such as cross-country skiing.
Mr. Heidorn stated that the Commission could give provisional approval, however, there may be a problem if the Commission is placed in a position of having to close a popular trail.
Chair Drucker stated that provisional approval would give the Site Manager and the CPO the authority to tell the people who are abusing the trail that the trail may be closed because of the illegal activity.
Commissioner Riddell stated that the Commission did not have information on the other alternatives that were considered. She asked if there were some other trail that could be used for this activity. She also asked if a decision could be deferred until more information could be provided.
Mr. Nyboer stated that in northern Illinois many of the snowmobile trails cross intermittent streams by using a wooden structure that can be removed during the non-use periods.
Mr. Kelley stated that an effort was made to separate the equestrian use and the snowmobile use at this site. Even through the activities do not occur at the same time during the winter, the field trials start in early spring when there is still a chance for significant snowfall.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis stated that she would like to note for the record that the information provided in the Agenda packet stated that four feet of snow would be required, and it should actually state "four inches" of snow. She stated that in the description there is no discussion of the length of the snowmobile trail through the Land and Water Reserve.
Mr. Kelley stated that the length of the trail is approximately two linear miles. He stated that the site staff are committed to this only being a snowmobile trail.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that this is a land and water reserve, not a nature preserve, and the proposed trail will be located approximately 250 feet from the significant feature. He stated that the concept of a land and water reserve designation is to allow other uses. Hunting is allowed in the Land and Water Reserve, and hunters walk all over the prairie during this activity. The proposed snowmobile trail will be a significant distance from the natural area. He stated that he would recommend that the snowmobile trail be approved as proposed.
Commissioner Riddell stated that she would recommend that additional information be presented at a future meeting to allow the Commission the ability to review other alternatives. She stated that she is concerned that approving a use that was not originally provided for in the original registration may cause problems in the future such as impacts on the wildlife during the winter, and possible conflicting uses of land that is protecting plants and wildlife.
Commissioner Flemal stated that he agrees with Commissioner Riddell’s comments. He stated that he would also like to emphasize that this is also a first time issue for him, and he would like the opportunity to reflect on the issue before making such a decision. Commissioner Flemal stated that he would like to review a more detailed map to be able to visualize where the Land and Water Reserve is located and its relationship to the proposed trail. He would also like to review the original proposal for registration of Cox Creek Hill Prairies Land and Water Reserve when this matter is brought back to the Commission for consideration.
stated that he would tend to rely on the expertise of the staff regarding this
issue, however, since there are several Commissioners who would like to have
more information before making a decision on this issue, he would agree that
this matter should be deferred.
Mr. Kelley stated that this site does have multiple uses. Hunting is allowed, and there is a 30-acre area of row crops in the bottomland area that is for the wildlife. There are areas which have high impact because of these uses.
Mr. Nyboer asked if the proposed snowmobile trail through the buffer area of the Land and Water Reserve will connect to a trail outside of the park.
Mr. Kelley stated that the trail will connect to another trail outside of the Land and Water Reserve which is a mostly paved bicycle trail. The entire length of the snowmobile trail will be approximately 17 miles, but only approximately two linear miles would be within the buffer area of the Land and Water Reserve. He stated that the actual feature of the Land and Water Reserve is of nature preserve quality. The area for the proposed trail within the buffer area is former crop ground.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by DeLaurentiis, and carried that the matter be deferred until the 184th INPC Meeting so that additional information can be presented and alternate routes be considered.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis stated that it would be helpful for the Commission staff to draft a memo stating a consensus on the opinion of whether this snowmobile trail would have a negative impact on the site.
Chair Drucker thanked Mr. Kelley for his presentation.
A break for lunch was done from 12:10 - 12:50 p.m.
Areas Acquisition Fund Fiscal Year 2005 Land Acquisition and Stewardship Proposals
(Actually presented after Item 21)
Patti Reilly stated that the information regarding the Natural Areas Stewardship Program was provided in the Agenda packet. At the time the information was submitted, she did not know if the funding would be available. She stated that even though the funding has been restored, a decision has not been made as to how the money can be spent. A list was comprised with possible projects, and the list is being presented for the INPC’s recommendations. Once the projects are approved by the Director of the IDNR, the funding issue will be addressed. Ms. Reilly gave an overview of the Natural Areas Stewardship Program. She stated that priority for land management is given to nature preserves and land and water reserves. The amount of money that is appropriated for stewardship from the NAAF is 10% of the land acquisition budget. A projected funding level for fiscal year 2005 is $450,000. She stated that Randy Heidorn assisted her in the development of a list of projects. The projects were chosen by considering ongoing projects, projects that need money match, and field staff recommendation for the priority of each project. The list consists of 24 projects on State-owned properties for a total of $130,686 and 12 projects on privately-owned properties for a total of $69,799. She stated that $250,000 is allocated for annual projects such as the hydrology project that is being conducted on fen areas in northeastern Illinois to determine how groundwater driven systems can be protected into the future. There is discretionary money that goes to each of the districts, the INPC, and the Volunteer Stewardship Network. Ms. Reilly stated that $20,000 goes to each of the Regions for Department-owned land. She stated that there is a master list that totals approximately 170 projects and totals approximately $920,000. Ms. Reilly reported in detail how this list was developed. She stated that Mr. Heidorn is administering some of the State Wildlife Grant money, and he has approximately $250,000 that he is managing which is also going toward stewardship efforts.
Don McFall stated that the groundwater consulting project is $100,000. The scientific information obtained from the groundwater research is often taken to meetings by John Nelson to protect the resource. The Volunteer Stewardship Network is budgeted for $5,000. He stated that this will purchase shovels, rakes, and other items needed to work on the natural areas.
Commissioner Riddell asked what has to happen to free up this money.
Brian Reilly stated that the IDNR fiscal people are coordinating the budget with the Governor’s Bureau of the Budget. This process takes approximately three weeks. Once that process is complete, a determination can be made as to how much money will be available.
Brian Reilly stated that the budget for fiscal year 2005 was passed on July 24, 2004. The budget for the NAAF totaled $16 million which included $4.9 million for operations. This included $4.5 million for the capital projects funded through the NAAF. Capital projects include land acquisition and stewardship. The budget also included $6.5 million of re-appropriated funds. The re-appropriated funds were left over from fiscal year 2004. The Bureau of the Budget and the Director of the IDNR decided that the Department will stop spending natural areas acquisition dollars until a determination is made to spend the money in other areas such as operations or other projects. Mr. Reilly stated that 10% of the NAAF, on the capital side, will go to stewardship projects, and 90% will go to land acquisition.
The proposed acquisition sites are as follows:
1) Beall Woods Nature Preserve is a National Natural Landmark because it is the biggest and best example of the immense forests which grew along the Wabash River. This acquisition will border the 333-acre nature preserve and contains forest habitat similar to the forest in the nature preserve. Beall Woods in located in Wabash County, south of Mt. Carmel, Illinois.
2) Black-Crown Marsh is a 236-acre wetland less than a quarter of a mile east of Moraine Hills State Park in McHenry County. The marsh provides habitat for eight endangered and threatened species of wetland dependant birds. This project has been the focus of several conservation groups including the Lake County Forest Preserve District, Illinois Audubon Society, Conservation Fund, Corlands, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Currently, the IDNR owns approximately 170 acres of Black-Crown Marsh. Acquiring additional lands here will benefit the birds nesting at the site, while protecting the marsh’s drainage basin.
3) The lower Fox River ecosystem, in La Salle County, is an outstanding example of how several natural areas form a complex system created by a river and its floodplain in association with adjacent wetlands and uplands. Most of the natural areas along the lower Fox River are in private ownership and two are dedicated as Illinois nature preserves. The proposed acquisition will expand the 29.68-acre IDNR-owned Lower Fox River-Blake’s Landing Nature Preserve, while preserving habitat for the state-endangered snowberry.
4) The Cache River State Natural Area, in Johnson and Pulaski counties, is one of Illinois’ premier natural areas. It is a large, diverse area of bottomland forest, swamps, upland forest, hill prairies, bedrock glades, cliffs and successional fields. Twenty endangered and threatened species of plants or animals occur here. Protected within the 14,780 acres owned by the IDNR is Illinois’ best example of a bald cypress and tupelo swamp. The proposed additions will protect both upland forest and bottomland habitat while playing an instrumental role in the Cache River’s hydrologic future.
5) Carl Fliermans’ Nature Preserve is a privately owned 23.40-acre site on the Little Vermilion River in Vermilion County. The site provides habitat for a remarkable diversity of fish because of its excellent in stream habitat with gravel/cobble substrate and submerged woody debris. The acquisition of additional land surrounding the Nature Preserve will buffer the site from construction activities that may cause damage to the stream, while preserving the ravines and water quality flowing into the Little Vermilion River.
6) Where the Embarras River crosses the Lawrence-Crawford county line lies Chauncy Marsh Nature Preserve. Chauncy Marsh is a 920-acre natural area that includes marsh surrounded by mesic prairie, bottomland forest and riverine natural communities. This site was created by the shifting river channel which left an oxbow that later filled in to become a marsh. Even though the site is a dedicated nature preserve, it is under constant threat by changes to the hydrology caused by a nearby artificial drainage canal. This acquisition will expand the wetland while protecting it from drainage threats.
7) Collier Limestone Glade is a small, very high-quality limestone glade in Hardin County. This site is within the Shawnee National Forest and is currently owned by The Nature Conservancy. The site is in need of management, and State ownership will provide the needed burning and brush removal to keep this site in its high-quality natural condition.
8) Cypress Pond is a 477-acre swamp bisected by the Johnson-Union county line. The site contains one of the largest cypress-tupelo stands in the State. What makes this area unique is the trees grow in a depressional pond rather than a linear slough. In 1998, the 310 acres owned by the IDNR was registered as an Illinois land and water reserve.
9) East Glen Shoals Prairies, near Hillsboro in Montgomery County, is a large prairie complex with a population of state-threatened savanna blazingstar.
10) Gibbons Creek Barrens is a 173-acre site in Pope County. The site is one of the few high-quality barrens within the Shawnee National Forest. This site is owned by The Nature Conservancy who is interested in selling the land to the State at cost.
11) Gribsby Marsh, in McDonough County, is a natural, spring-fed wetland. This high-quality marsh and swamp is the largest of its kind in west central Illinois. This site provides habitat for the state-threatened prairie spiderwort.
12) Guthrie Cave, in Union County, was registered as a 79.3-acre Illinois land and water reserve in October, 1999, as an example of high-quality terrestrial and aquatic cave communities. Guthrie Cave may be one of the longest caves in Illinois, measuring over two miles in length which extends under land south of the land and water reserve. The proposed addition is intended to protect the cave from above. Land above the cave is grade C and D forest with some old fields.
13) Hanover Bluff, in the JoDaviess County driftless area, is a 450-acre natural. It is located on a high dolomite ridge that forms a valley wall over the Mississippi River. It includes a 362-acre nature preserve that has six native plant communities, sand hill prairie, dry dolomite prairie, dolomite cliff, dry-mesic and mesic upland forest, and seep springs. Hanover Bluff provides habitat for 11 state-endangered and threatened species. Expanding this site will provide additional habitat for the rare species occurring here while implementing the area’s preserve design.
14) Harlem Hills
Prairie is a dedicated nature preserve and is one of the best gravel hill prairies
in the State. It is located in Winnebago County and is surrounded by development.
The tract to be added is registered as a Natural Heritage Landmark and has been
managed as a natural area for the past 10 years.
15) Located in Monroe County, close to St. Louis, Illinois Caverns, Krueger Dry-Run, and other cave systems are subject to increasing effects from surface development. The protection of these sensitive ecosystems is a priority for the State, and the acquisition of additional land at the State-owned Illinois Caverns will protect this site as well as an area that contributes water to Armin Krueger Speleological Nature Preserve.
16) Iroquois County Conservation Area is a large natural area containing sand savanna, shrub prairie, sand prairie, flatwoods, sedge meadow, and marsh. Fourteen endangered and threatened species occur here. A large portion of Iroquois County Conservation Area is registered as a land and water reserve, and Hooper Branch Savanna Nature Preserve is located within the boundaries of the site. Additions to this site will expand Hooper Branch Savanna Nature Preserve.
17) Lake Mildred is at the base of Demint Prairie, Prairie Du Rocher Herpetological Area, and Renault Herpetological Area. Together, these sites form a mosaic of habitat vital to the bluff ecosystem in Monroe County.
18) Long Branch Sand Prairie Nature Preseve, in Mason County, is a 93.1-acre site typical of the Illinois River Sand Areas with its gently rolling dunes covered with little bluestem, goats rue and prickly pear cactus. Unfortunately, only part of this prairie is protected as a State-owned nature preserve. The acquisition of additional land here will provide an opportunity to expand the nature preserve while buffering this natural area.
19) Warren County is at the historic interface of the forest and prairie. Most of this area was converted to agricultural use, except for the 6.2-acre Massasauga Prairie Nature Preserve which was too steep to plow. The tall grass prairie and the wet prairie at the base of the hill provides habitat to the state-endangered reptile.
20) Menard County Hills Prairie is a high-quality natural area that was recently discovered while performing ariel surveys of neighboring natural areas. This site has maintained all of the desired flora, including the recently delisted Hill’s thistle and the state-threatened pale false foxglove. The restoration potential for the entire tract is very high, making this site highly desirable for conservation.
21) Pelican Pouch, in Clinton County, is a high-quality forest identified by the INAI. It has mature woods, deep ravines, and several seep/springs.
22) Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve consists of 111 acres of forest and sandstone cliffs along Piney Creek in Jackson and Randolph counties. Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve is one of two locations in Illinois where the shortleaf pine naturally occurs. Other plants in the Nature Preserve are farkleberry, lowbush blueberry and sedge species. Expanding this site will buffer and provide extra protection for the Nature Preserve.
23) Potato Hill Prairaie and Monroe City Hill Prairie are two INAI sites owned by Columbia Quarry Company in Monroe County. These sites contain high-quality hill prairies and limestone glades. Several endangered and threatened species live in these natural areas. These sites are part of a larger forest that harbors neo-tropical migrant birds.
24) Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, in Marion and Jasper counties, is made up of several blocks of grassland habitat. Prairie Ridge supports breeding populations of 7 species of declining state-listed grassland birds, including the critically endangered greater prairie chicken. Other grassland birds occurring here include northern harrier, upland sandpiper, Henslow’s sparrow, shorteared owl, and loggerhead shrike. The IDNR owns more than1,500 acres at Prairie Ridge, 566 acres as a dedicated nature preserve and 1,023 acres as a registered as an land and water reserve. The IDNR has partnered with the Illinois Audubon Society to provide trails and platforms for public viewing of the birds at Prairie Ridge.
25) The proposed
additions at Redwing Slough State Natural Area in Lake County, will provide
additional habitat, buffer, and access to one of the largest wetlands remaining
in the six county Chicago metropolitan area. Approximately 734 acres of Redwing
Slough State Natural Area have been registered as Redwing Slough/Deer Lake Land
and Water Reserve. The marsh provides habitat for a large variety of wetland
wildlife including 6 species of endangered and threatened wetland dependent
birds. The additions will be restored to native vegetation and managed for the
wetland and wetland dependant bird species.
26) Richwood Hill Prairie is a large, undisturbed hill prairie in Jersey County. The prairie provides habitat a state-threatened reptile and state-threatened pale false foxglove.
27) Sandy Ford Land and Water Reserve, in LaSalle County, is 200 acres in size and has high shale cliffs along the Vermillion River. Small hill prairies line this cliff with mesic forest behind the prairies. Two streams flow through the Land and Water Reserve with rock outcrops and small waterfalls creating a picturesque natural area. Sandy Ford is a favorite birding spot for many local bird watchers because it attracts a large number of neo-tropical migrant birds during the spring when the forest floor has a carpet of wildflowers. Expansion of this area will provide additional protection for the Land and Water Reserve while providing clearly defined boundaries to simplify management of the site.
28) Swayne Hollow, in Randolph County, is located near Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve. Swayne Hollow has many of the features of Piney Creek Ravine, and this acquisition may lead to the future connection of these two sites.
29) An addition of 345 acres of forested land adjacent to the Trail of Tears State Forest, in Union County, will assist in the efforts to improve breeding conditions for forest interior nesting birds. These birds need dense stands of forest to reduce predation from edge species. This site will expand the forest and preserve the existing habitat. Purchasing the site will also help remedy the problem of illegal ATV, horseback riding and poaching.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Riddell, and carried that the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission go into closed session, pursuant to Section 2 (c)(5) of the Illinois Open Meetings Act [5ILCS 120/2 (c)(5)] for purposes of discussing the purchase or lease of real property for the use of a public body. Section 2 (c)(5) of the Illinois Open Meetings Act provides that a public body may go into closed session to discuss, "the purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, including meetings held for the purpose of discussing whether a particular parcel should be acquired." A unanimous roll-call vote was taken. Closed session started at 1:04 p.m.
The meeting was called back to order at 1:40 p.m.
It was moved by Riddell, seconded by DeLaurentiis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the fiscal year 2005 Natural Areas Acquisition Fund land acquisition list as presented, with the addition of sites near Starved Rock State Park and the Savanna Army Depot, under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 183rd Meeting.
183-20) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
(Actually presented after Item 18)
Fran Harty stated that he has some exciting news to report. He stated that earlier this year the Clean Energy Foundation and others in Chicago asked Dr. David Thomas, Chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey, Carl Becker, and himself to give an overview of the function of the INAI. After the presentation was given, a request was made to submit a proposal to develop a plan to update the INAI. A $125,000 grant was awarded to develop the plan to update the INAI. This will be done in partnership with the IDNR and Illinois Natural History Survey. He stated that Patti Reilly will play a key role in this project. A $20,000 grant was awarded from the Wildlife Preservation Fund, along with a letter of support from Director Brunsvold. Deanna Glosser and John White were hired to work full-time on the planning project.
Chair Drucker stated that this is exciting news. The INAI sites are the blueprint that guide the Commission’s protection activities.
Guy Fraker, former Chair of the INPC, stated that he participated in the talks with the legislators about the strength of the open land preservation movement in the State. He stated that this movement is stronger now than it has ever been. This advocacy has been victorious up until this point, and he feels it is important that this structure be kept in place. He stated that everyone should be in touch with the legislators and thank them for what they did. It took hard work on their part because they were under substantial pressure to the contrary. They had the courage and conviction to stand up and be counted. The legislators took positions that the advocacy wanted them to take. He stated that it is very important that we solidify the position politically that we have gained in this battle by letting the legislators know how much we appreciate their efforts so they can go away having it confirmed that the preservation of open land is an important political value in the State of Illinois.
Randy Heidorn stated that he wanted to remind everyone that the Natural Areas Conference will be held October 13-16, 2004 in Chicago. The Commission will be strongly represented at the Conference. He highlighted the issues that will be featured at the Conference. People from all over the world will be attending the Conference.
Chair Drucker thanked Randy for his efforts in organizing the Natural Areas Conference.
Dave Monk stated that he would like to thank the Commission for all it does. He also stated that the North American Prairie Conference starts on August 8, 2004, in Madison, Wisconsin.
Chair Drucker stated that he would like to thank the University of Illinois for providing the Heritage Room meeting facility.
183 -21) Other
Jonathan Furr presented a handout to the Commissioners regarding the new ethics guidelines. Mr. Furr explained in detail the ethics guidelines regarding registered lobbyists, holders of State contracts, disclosure of State contracts, conflicts of interest, gift ban act, ethics training, revolving door prohibition, time sheets, ex parte communications in rulemaking, and the process of taking the ethics test online. Mr. Furr stated that there are some exceptions to the gift ban act. Travel expenses for board meetings are excluded, along with gifts provided on the basis of personal friendship. There is an exception for food or drink that does not exceed $75 per calendar day, with the clock starting again at midnight. Food, refreshments, lodging, transportation, and other benefits resulting from outside business, employment activities, or outside activities not connected to your official duties as a board member are not included. For most of the Commissioners, 99% of their time is not spent serving as a Nature Preserves Commissioner. He stated that the Commissioners need to be cognizant and ask themselves is the person giving the gift doing so because you serve on the Commission or could they be affected by the actions of the Commission. If the answer is yes, then the gift ban act applies. He advised the Commissioners that he is available for any questions that may arise.
Mr. Furr stated that the current period for board and commission members to take the ethics training is September 9 - October 8, 2004. This will be an online training, and notification will be sent to each Commissioner via email with instructions on how to take this test. This test should not take more than 30 minutes.
There is a requirement for time sheets. He stated that he is generally instructing commission members to fill out a time sheet at each commission meeting to indicate the travel and any time spent on commission activities since the last commission meeting. The time sheets are kept on file within the Department. There is no real requirement for reporting or submission. The time sheet should be filled out even if the Commissioner is not seeking reimbursement for travel expenses.
Mr. Furr stated that there is a requirement for reporting exparte communications during rule making to the extent that you would have any discussions with outside entities after the first notice period has begun in the rule making process. A written statement should be submitted to either Don McFall or himself of that communication. That will be included in the rule making process.
Mr. Furr stated that the IDNR appreciates all the hard work being done by the INPC, and it wants to make compliance with this as painless as possible.
Chair Drucker thanked Mr. Furr for taking the time to address the Commission.
It was moved by
Ross-Shannon, seconded by Sommerhof, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The
meeting was adjourned at 1:45 p.m.
Illinois Nature Preserves Commission
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702