Minutes of the 186th Meeting
(subject to approval of Commission at 187th Meeting)
Nauvoo Family Inn and Suites
1101 S. Goodwin Avenue
Tuesday, May 3, 2005 - 10:00 a.m.
186-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:05 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Drucker, the meeting began.
Don McFall gave the roll call.
Members present: Jill Allread, Harry Drucker, Dr. Ronald Flemal, Dr. Richard Keating, Bruce Ross-Shannon, and John Schwegman.
Members absent: Kristi DeLaurentiis, Jill Riddell, and John
Others present: Steven Byers, Judy Faulkner Dempsey, Bob Edgin, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Angella Moorehouse, Kelly Neal, John Nelson, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, Kim Roman, and Mary Kay Solecki, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Todd Strole, Bob Szafoni, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Randy Nyboer, Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB) and Illinois Natural History Survey, IDNR; Carl Becker and Fran Harty, The Nature Conservancy (TNC);Sue Dees, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); John Steffan, DuPage County; Jerry Robinson, Christopher B. Burke Engineering; Maurice Brucker and Emiko Yang, representing Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve; Marianne Hahn, representing Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve; Jeanine Damann, Dennis Dreher, and Lorna Gladstone, Boone Creek Watershed Alliance, representing Boloria Fen and Sedge Meadow; Bill Weber.
Chair Drucker stated that the Commission would like to thank Angella Moorehouse and Tharran Hobson for their help in arranging the field trip to Cedar Glen Nature Preserve.
Chair Drucker reported that at the 185th Meeting of the INPC, held at the Department of Natural Resources headquarters building in Springfield on February 1, 2005, legal protection for nine tracts of land totaling 934 acres was approved by the Commission. Four of the nine 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 $234,000, 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 185th Meeting of the INPC were Prairie of the Rock Overlook, Randolph County, 2.5 acres; addition to Gensburg-Markam Prairie Nature Preserve, Cook County, 3.8 acres; addition to Cedar Glen Nature Preserve, Hancock County, 50.5 acres; and addition to Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve, Jo Daviess County, 67 acres. A total of 123 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 323 dedicated nature preserves in 80 counties totaling 43,800 acres and 119 land and water reserves in 55 counties totaling 35,270 acres.
186-2) Adoption of Agenda
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the Agenda be adopted as presented.
186-3) Approval of the Minutes of the 185th Meeting, February 1, 2005
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Keating, and carried that
the Minutes of the 185th Meeting, February 1, 2005, be approved as presented.
186-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Meeting Date Location
187 2 August, 9:00 a.m. Morton Arboretum, Lisle
188 18 October, 10:00 a.m. Pere Marquette Lodge, Grafton
Chair Drucker suggested that a possible meeting location for one of the Commission meetings for 2006 would be in McHenry County near Boone Creek Fen.
186-5) INPC Staff Report
Don McFall reported that Michelle Klintworth, Office Specialist for the INPC, is absent today, and Debbie Reider agreed to help with today’s meeting. He stated that he would like to thank Ms. Reider for her assistance.
Mr. McFall stated that each Commissioner was given a copy of Creating Habitats and Homes for Illinois Wildlife. This publication is an excellent educational resource and practical guide for landowners working to make their land function better for wildlife. The principle author is Debbie Newman. This book is given as a small "thank you" from the Commission to private landowners who protect their land as a nature preserve or land and water reserve and to show them what other landowners are doing to protect and restore habitat on their land.
On April 5, 2005, open space bond referenda were approved by
voters in Will County, Kane County and in Campton Township in Kane County,
demonstrating continued strong public support for open space and natural area
protection. Will County voters approved $95 million for open space land acquisition
and development, Kane County voters approved $75 million, and Campton Township
approved $28 million.
Mr. McFall stated that there are two new Natural Heritage Landmarks to report. Angella Moorehouse enrolled Scotch Cemetery Savanna Natural Heritage Landmark. This is a 1-acre site in Knox County, and it protects a dry mesic prairie included on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI). The new landmark is owned by Copley Township.
Gramercy Park Natural Heritage Landmark is a 5-acre site on the bluff along the Mississippi River in Jo Daviess County. It is included on the INAI for a significant geological feature and the presence of cliff goldenrod, a threatened species. The new landmark is owned by the City of East Dubuque, and it was enrolled into the program by Ms. Moorehouse.
Mr. McFall reported that there are now 137 Natural Heritage Landmarks totaling 6,180 acres.
A symposium on the INAI was held on April 9, 2005, in Galesburg as part of the annual meeting of the Illinois State Academy of Science. Jack White and Deanna Glosser gave presentations on their plan for the INAI update. Commissioners Keating and Schwegman, Bob Edgin, Kelly Neal, Tom Lerczak, Angella Moorehouse, and Don McFall attended the symposium.
Mary Kay Solecki was a presentor at "Habitat Enhancement Day" on April 23, 2005. This was a workshop for private landowners to identify and controll invasive plants in woodlands.
Angella Moorehouse represented the INPC at the Endangered Species Protection Board meeting February 18, 2005, at Cedar Glen Nature Preserve.
Tom Lerczak coordinated a dedication ceremony in Clinton for Mettler Woods Nature Preserve on February 24, 2005.
The Henry Barkhausen Wetland Center at Cache River State Natural Area was dedicated on April 29, 2005. Commissioner Schwegman and Judy Faulkner Dempsey represented the Commission at the dedication.
Debbie Newman and Angella Moorehouse conducted aerial surveillance of natural areas in western Illinois. More than 100 natural areas, nature preserves and land and water reserves were checked and photographed from the air from low level, slow flights. This saved staff many days of checking areas on foot.
Kim Roman surveyed the hibernating bat population at Blackball Mines Nature Preserve. A large population of an endangered bat hibernates at this Nature Preserve.
Tom Lerczak spoke to approximately 50 junior high students from Pekin to prepare them for tree planting at Dirksen-McNaughton Woods Land and Water Reserve. The students planted the trees on April 15, 2005.
Bob Edgin has been coordinating the ordering and distribution
of land management tools and equipment for staff. Mr. McFall thanked Mr. Edgin
for working on this project.
Judy Faulkner Dempsey is reviewing the draft Forest Plan for the Shawnee National Forest. This plan will guide use and development of the Forest for the next 15-20 years. Ms. Faulkner Dempsey will prepare the Commission’s response to the Plan.
Mr. McFall updated the Commission on the status of Commission appointments. He stated that five of the nine Commissioners are serving on expired terms, and on June 30, 2005, three more terms will expire. He stated that the Commission has been in contact with the Governor’s office, and the Governor’s office is working on this matter.
Randy Heidorn reported that the INPC staff assisted or led in the prescribed burning of approximately 5,000 acres this spring at nearly 50 sites. INPC staff served as the burn boss on 7 prescribed burns. Two staff members participated in the burning of more than 1,000 acres. The following field staff participated in prescribed burns: Tom Lerczak, 24 acres at two sites; Angella Moorehouse, 75 acres at seven sites; Debbie Newman, 77 acres at five sites; Mary Kay Solecki, 133 acres at eight sites; Steven Byers, 186 acres at 14 sites; John Nelson 450 acres at five sites; Kim Roman, 1,734 acres at 15 sites, and Bob Edgin, 2,483 acres at 33 sites.
Mr. Heidorn stated that Mary Kay Solecki was the recipient of a surplus fire truck. This truck is being used to conduct prescribed burns in Ms. Solecki’s district. Mr. Heidorn stated that he wanted to thank Diane Tecic for her efforts in getting this truck.
Mr. Heidorn stated that he would like to thank Bob Szafoni, Restoration Ecologist, for his efforts with stewardship projects. Contractual land management efforts continue on lands protected through INPC programs. INPC and IDNR field staff continue to work with contractors, owners, and managers to implement stewardship. Jennifer Aherin and Dave Blatchford , Office of Resource Conservation, IDNR, have been instrumental in helping staff meet complex State procurement requirements. This kind of help is critical to set the ground work for increased funding of stewardship expected through the State Wildlife Grant Program and the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) Stewardship. A summary of the stewardship funding programs that are currently underway are:
1. NAAF Stewardship funded 67 projects across the State. Bob
Szafoni took the lead in coordinating with the IDNR and INPC field staff to
implement these projects with an overall value of $350,000. The amount available
for these kind of projects in Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 is proposed to be approximately
2. The INPC was able to allocate operating funds from INPC vacancies to fund an additional 11 stewardship projects totaling approximately $50,000.
3. The exotic species project (a federal FY 2002 funded project: R-6-1) is in the process of being wrapped up. This project, administered by INPC stewardship staff, funded five $25,000 restoration projects across the State over the last two years, and is helping to update the INPC’s Vegetation Management Guidelines for exotic and invasive species. Bob Edgin and Mary Kay Solecki were instrumental in this project.
4. State Wildlife Incentive Grant: Public Land Native Habitat Restoration Project (T-5- 1) is a $250,000 Federal Aid project that began with federal FY 2003 funds. Under current agreements, stewardship activities are implemented at eight IDNR natural areas. The IDNR has agreed to expand this project by adding $120,000 of federal FY 2004 funds, thereby adding four more projects. A proposal has been written by INPC stewardship staff to expand this project by an additional $330,000 from federal FY 2005 monies. The ultimate goal is to increase stewardship funds available by matching all IDNR habitat restoration activities on State-owned natural areas not already matched by other federal programs. Such an effort will require increased staff coordination support. Therefore, a second 2005 proposal was submitted to request funding for a project administrator. Until a project administrator is approved, INPC stewardship staff will continue to work with Eric Smith and Dean Corgiat, Restoration Ecologists, to implement this program.
Mr. Heidorn stated that there has been a continuing concern about deer management in the nature preserves. Deer are a problem at many of the sites. One of the problems associated with management is that the nature preserves tend to act as a refuge for the deer. Without special management plans, lethal methods of deer control does not occur. Approximately a year ago, a group, coordinated by Terry Esker, Restoration Ecologist, was formed to develop an approach that would make deer management routine in a nature preserve of a certain size. A control effort would be implemented in advance of actually seeing the damage from deer browse. A new management guideline will be presented at the 187th INPC Meeting.
Mr. Heidorn also updated the Commission on the following topics:
Illinois Beach Asbestos Investigations: The Attorney General’s task force continues to meet regarding asbestos at this site. The task force continues to wait for the results of a risk assessment contracted under the direction of the group. Task force members have been advised by the contractor that the report (being prepared by the University of Illinois - Chicago) should be completed by the spring of 2006. The report will be made available to the task force and the public.
MANAGE MATS: In 1994, the INPC developed a computer database
to track and plan management on nature preserves and land and water reserves.
The database also helped in the annual reporting and biennial reporting process
(MANAGE). Since then, there has been considerable change in the computer technology,
and MANAGE is obsolete. Through the State Wildlife Grant Program and the development
of the State Wildlife Plan, the IDNR has recognized the need to develop a
similar tool for tracking land management. Since the INPC already has had
some experience with this kind of project, the IDNR has decided to update
and rebuild MANAGE as a pilot project for development of a Department-wide
Management Activity Tracking System (MATS). The IDNR has allocated $125,000
for the building of this system. Staff have been working closely with the
IDNR and Central Management Services (CMS) in the development of a Charter
for this new system. It is hoped that the new MANAGE MATS will be built by
the end of 2005.
Annual Reports/Biennial Reports: Staff continues to collect annual report information for 2003 and 2004. This information will be used in the development of a biennial report that is due in the next few months.
Kelly Neal represents the INPC on the Hine’s emerald dragonfly Right-of-Way Management Team (ROWMT). The Hine’s emerald dragonfly has been documented at nature preserves in Will County. At a recent meeting, there was discussion of ROWMT partners pursing a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The partnership includes Material Services Corporation, EJ&E Railroad, Commonwealth Edison, the Forest Preserve District of Will County, as well as many other interest parties. The HCP is a mechanism under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) that provides for legal "take" of a listed species by non-federal parties/activities when incidental to otherwise lawful projects. The HCP is a part of the Incidental Take permit application and can provide for many activities that would benefit the listed species and its habitat to offset the presumably minimal take allowed under the permit. Ms. Neal has participated in early planning discussion for the proposed HCP and will represent the INPC as this process moves forward.
Ms. Neal continues to play a coordinating role of the Natural Areas Evaluation Committee. This internal IDNR committee sets standards for the INAI and determines what sites are to be included on the INAI. Ms. Neal serves as the clearing house for all the data needed to support the Committee’s decision making.
John Nelson updated the Commission on the Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve and the efforts of the INPC staff to protect the groundwater resource sustaining the Fen given the land use changes that are occurring around the Nature Preserve. He stated that Bluff City Materials is having difficulty grouting the deep underground mining portal to bring the groundwater discharge down to the 50-gallons per minute that is specified in the Fen Protection Plan. Bluff City Materials is going to a new method, chemical grouting, to deal with the water discharge. There is now a liquid asphalt plant on the mining site. Mining continues at the Gifford Lake site on the north side of Gifford Lake. Filling activities are in earnest on the south side of Gifford Lake. There is a concrete recycling facility south of the Nature Preserve, and an auto salvage yard, approximately 100 acres in size, is east of the Fen. There is a scrap metal facility on the south side of Gifford Lake, and there will soon be a waste transfer station at that location. There is a constant stream of trucks bringing in the fill material. Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve is an oasis in the midst of the development around it. He stated that INPC staff are working with Illinois State Water Survey and Geological Survey scientists to monitor the groundwater levels within the calcareous seep in the Fen. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) is going to sell a 77-acre parcel to the Cook County Forest Preserve District. This is an important buffer to Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve. The Groundwater Flow Model is now complete, and a copy of the report was given to the Commissioners. The interim report was prepared by Dr. Bruce Hensel with Natural Resource Technology. The Survey scientists are comfortable with the Groundwater Flow Model, and they have had a great deal of input throughout the process. The Model is now being used to make decisions. He stated that the monitoring well in the center of the Nature Preserve continues to exhibit a sustained draw down of 4-6 inches. The Model predictive runs at that monitoring well indicate that groundwater level impacts could be between zero and 2 ½ feet under different development and mitigation scenarios. The Model shows that we can get it to no impact, and that is what we want. Under the worse case, it would be 2 ½ feet. The Model confirms that the 77-acre MWRD parcel is playing a critical role as buffer to the Fen. The long-term mitigation strategies can be implemented on Bluff City Materials property. The INPC staff has recently conveyed to Bluff City Materials that the Commission would like to see all mitigation done on their own property rather than on MWRD property. The short-term mitigation action by Bluff City Materials to get the monitoring well in the center of the Nature Preserve back up to baseline during the second growing season could work. Bluff City Materials is going to pump water into one of the finger lakes on the MWRD property. The Commission is not endorsing that action. While the Model says this will work, it is not being endorsed because this short-term solution should not turn into a long-term solution. On the south side of the Fen, a project was initiated to pipe storm water discharge through an old ditch. This project was previously approved by the Commission. The first step was to clear the trees in the area. The project started on March 29, 2005, and it was stopped on March 30, 2005, because the MWRD had some concerns. The MWRD was concerned about the project, the tree clearing, and other projects nearby that Bluff City Materials had undertaken. One was related to a sanitary sewer hookup, which Bluff City Materials did not have a permit for, as well as a storm water culvert that was installed without any review or permitting. A permit was obtained for the piping of storm water discharge through the ditch from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with The Nature Conservancy listed as the applicant, along with the INPC. The MWRD was not listed on the permit, and that application is being revised. The INPC is working with the MWRD to solve their concerns and to get the project back on track.
Chair Drucker asked that if Bluff City Materials damages the Fen through their activities, what penalty is accessed.
Mr. Nelson stated that Bluff City Materials has been trying to avoid damaging the Fen, and that is why they undertook the modeling effort. Bluff City Materials has been working with the INPC to craft the Fen Protection Plan to insure that the Fen is protected, allowing them to develop their land. If the damage continues, the INPC may need to consider going to the Attorney General’s Office. It is hoped that the short-term mitigation will solve the monitoring well issue, but there is still the long-term issue. The Commission would like to see the groundwater protected without mitigation on the MWRD site. Bluff City Materials meets with INPC staff frequently. The Chief Operating Officer of Bluff City Materials goes to Springfield to meet with Don McFall and Randy Heidorn. Mr. Nelson stated that the lines of communication between Bluff City Materials and the Commission are open.
Randy Heidorn stated that there are specific penalties under the Natural Areas Preservation Act which would be civil penalties of $10,000 which could be on a per day basis. There could also be criminal issues, and that would be a $1,000 per day.
Mr. Nelson stated that there is no incidental take permit,
and penalties for the taking of threatened or endangered species would also
apply. Changes relating to external factors that are occurring within the
Fen can be proved through the existing monitoring. Baseline data has been
obtained, and monitoring continues.
Mr. Nelson updated the Commission on Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. A wildfire occurred at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve on March 30, 2005. The wildfire burned over 60 acres of the Nature Preserve. The local fire department responded to fight the fire, and a piece of machinery (a Bobcat) got stuck in one of the calcareous seeps. McHenry County Conservation District staff were brought in to assist with the planning efforts for getting the Bobcat out of the seep without causing further damage. It was decided to bring in a front end loader and use matting to walk the machine across the sedge meadow and the graminoid fen. This all happened within a 24-hour period. Several governmental agencies came together, McHenry County Conservation District, Village of Lake in the Hills, the fire department, and Richmond Township. The Bobcat was successfully extracted. Mr. Nelson stated that in the future, better coordination with the local fire departments will be done.
A copy of the Boone Creek Water Shed Protection Plan was given to each of the Commissioners. Mr. Nelson stated that the Plan is an outstanding example of a proactive approach to protecting the environment that goes beyond nature preserve dedication. This is a grassroots effort by the Boone Creek Watershed Alliance with the participation of many different organizations. The plan lays the ground rules for new developers coming into the watershed. Mr. Nelson stated that Dennis Dreher with the Boone Creek Watershed Alliance was instrumental in writing this document.
Chair Drucker thanked Mr. Nelson for his unflagging efforts.
186-6) IDNR Staff Report
Todd Strole stated that the personnel numbers for ORC have not decreased further, however, there have been a few personnel transactions that have occurred this past quarter. Two data entry specialists have been hired as part of a State Wildlife Grant. They will be working with Tara Kieninger, and they will be focusing on a backlog of element occurrence records (EORs). Mr. Strole stated that two natural heritage resident positions have been funded through a challenge cost share grant with the U.S. Forest Service in the Shawnee National Forest. Interviews for two more positions are scheduled for May, 2005. The positions will be based in southern Illinois, spending approximately 50% of their time on natural areas on the Shawnee National Forest. This is a good partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the Shawnee National Forest.
Mr. Strole stated that the Forest Plan for the Shawnee National Forest has been revised and is out for public review. Staff from the Forest Service did give a presentation to the IDNR, and comments will be submitted as a coordinated effort. Jody Shimp will be one of the coordinators.
Mr. Strole stated that a 230-acre parcel was purchased from the Illinois Audubon Society at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Jasper County.
The Citizens Advisory Committee for the Wildlife Preservation
Fund met in April, 2005, and recommendations made are making their way to
Director Brunsvold’s office. The Committee has recommended 29 small
projects for a total of $47,000. Small projects are projects that are $2,000
or less. Sixteen large projects, totaling $152,000, were recommended.
The Natural Areas Evaluation Committee met recently, and there were two new INAI sites added to the Inventory. Barnhart Prairie Restoration in Champaign County is a well-known site for the Franklin’s ground squirrel. Neoga Railroad Prairie in Cumberland County was also added.
May 2, 2005, was the close of the 30-day agency wide review of the Burn Policy. A few significant comments were received, and the Policy will be adjusted accordingly.
Mr. Strole stated that there is a partnership with the Forest Stewardship Section of the Division of Habitat Resources and the U.S. Forest Service to provide State Fire Assistance. Money is provided through the U.S. Forest Service through the IDNR to local fire departments. In the past, all of the money has been used to cost share equipment with local fire departments throughout the State. Because of things like the Bobcat getting stuck at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve, the Department has decided to take a significant portion of the money and channel it into training. This is in the early planning stages, but it is intended to provide training to local fire departments, mostly volunteer fire departments, on prescribed burning and wild land fire fighting. This will enhance the Department’s communication with local fire departments and expose them to the techniques that are used.
Chair Drucker stated that there was unbelievable news about the ivory billed woodpecker which was thought to be extinct, because it had not been seen since 1944. This species was one of the first attempts by the conservation community to understand the full life cycle of an organism and all the things that were necessary in order to insure its viability into the future. This was the birth of the modern land based conservation efforts to protect habitat for species. He stated that this validates why we do what we do. In reviewing the endangered species list for Illinois, it was noted that the ivory billed woodpecker was not on the list, and he asked Randy Nyboer, Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB), to address this issue because Cache River Land and Water Reserve and Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Nature Preserve are within the traditional range and habitat for this bird.
186-7) Endangered Species Protection Board Staff Report
Randy Nyboer stated the next ESPB meeting is May 20, 2005, at the McHenry County Conservation District offices. A field trip is scheduled for May 19, 2005, to be led by McHenry County Conservation District staff to showcase their work with endangered species on a number of their sites.
Mr. Nyboer stated that the ESPB has no full-time staff and no budget within the IDNR. A budget was submitted, however, it was not approved. The ESPB is also working with the Governor’s office regarding Board appointments and renewals. Mr. Nyboer stated that he has been reappointed as a part-time employee for FY 2006 through the Natural History Survey where he also works part-time and from funds through the Environmental Protection Trust Fund through Realty and Environmental Planning, IDNR.
Working with the INPC staff and IDNR staff, the ESPB has accomplished several projects. Mr. Nyboer stated that he gave a presentation on behalf of the ESPB at the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory Symposium at Knox College in Galesburg in April, 2005. The ESPB has been working with a number of different conservation plans where endangered species could be impacted by construction projects, either through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) or on State sites. The ESPB has worked on two recovery meetings for two listed fish and worked on the prairie white fringed orchid recovery plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the INPC, and a number of volunteers at the Morton Arboretum.
The ESPB has also been working with the Shawnee National Forest Plan, which has 92 state-listed species and the only location left in Illinois for the Mead’s milkweed. Fire management on that site is recommended to help with the recovery of that plant. The U.S. Forest Service has been working with the ESPB to try to get more of these areas protected.
Mr. Nyboer stated that the ESPB is also reviewing the Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Service’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The ESPB will also be reviewing the State Comprehensive Wildlife Plan being offered by the IDNR.
Five active bald eagle nests were found last year at the Savanna Army Depot. A storm knocked down one of the nests. Eight active nests were found in a survey done this spring.
Mr. Nyboer stated that the "beach heather moth" may have been located at the Savanna Army Depot. He stated that in 1983 a larva of this moth was discovered after a wildfire burned some of the beach heather at the Depot, however, he was never able to find the adult. He sent some specimens to the Smithsonian, and he was advised that it was an undescribed species. He stated that hopefully this moth will be named.
The ESPB is working with the recovery and reintroduction plan for the alligator snapping turtle that the IDNR has put together. The plan is under review at the present time for southern Illinois.
Mr. Nyboer stated that he is also working on the ESPB biennial report.
186-8) Kankakee Co. – Addition to Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Kim Roman presented a proposal to register an addition to Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve. Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve, a 65-acre natural area located in Kankakee County, is owned and managed by Dr. Marianne Hahn. The site is recognized on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1581) for its high quality natural communities including dry-mesic sand savanna, sand flatwoods, sand forest, and dry sand prairie, and also for the habitat it provides for twelve state endangered or threatened plants and the state threatened regal fritillary butterfly (Speyeria idalia). Since its registration as a land and water reserve in August, 2002, Dr. Hahn began purchasing lots adjacent to Sweet Fern Savanna as they have become available to help complete reserve design. Ten individual tracts, totaling 27.7 acres, are proposed to be added to the Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve, bringing the total protected acreage of this site to 90 acres.
Ms. Roman stated that the allowable uses include a minimally developed foot trail. Dr. Hahn is also planning to build a bridge over the large drainage ditch to make it easier to cross and to facilitate prescribed burns. Dr. Hahn will continue to allow her neighbors and friends to hunt deer on the property. Dr. Hahn also retains the right for cross country skiing, primitive camping, collecting cherry wood, and horseback riding. Most of these rights will be extinguished in 20 years.
Ms. Roman acknowledged the work done on this property by Dr. Hahn. Dr. Hahn purchased the property approximately five years ago and no one knew how special this property was. The property is of statewide significance because of its high quality natural communities, threatened or endangered species, and wildlife habitat. She originally acquired the property to have her own natural area. She has actively managed it and worked toward a reserve design. Ms. Roman thanked Dr. Hahn for her efforts.
Dr. Marianne Hahn thanked Fran Harty for suggesting that she
look for land in the Pembroke area. She also thanked the IDNR and INPC staff
who have helped her with the management of the property.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of an addition to Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve in Kankakee County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 8 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
Chair Drucker thanked Dr. Hahn for her generosity and dedication
to protecting natural areas.
186-9) Champaign Co. – Barnhart Prairie Restoration Nature Preserve, Dedication
Mary Kay Solecki presented a proposal for preliminary approval for dedication of Barnhart Prairie Restoration as an Illinois nature preserve. The Barnhart family proposes to dedicate 80 acres of the Barnhart Prairie Restoration. Barnhart Prairie Restoration, owned by five brothers and sisters of the Barnhart family - Amber, Brett, Donald and Trent Barnhart, and Karen Bush, is a prairie reconstruction located approximately two miles south of Urbana in Champaign County. Donald Barnhart and his father, Harry, began this prairie reconstruction in 1987 on 5.5 acres. The prairie has expanded over the years and encompasses approximately 100 acres in total. Of the100 acres, 80 acres of the restoration is in a conservation easement purchased with funding from the IDNR’s C2000 program and held by the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District. The site is recognized on the INAI ( #1717). A breeding population of the state-threatened Franklin’s ground squirrel (Spermophilus franklinii) occurs here. The prairie harbors numerous types of native plants and animals, with the greatest assortment of conservative plants found on the oldest restorations that came into existence 16-18 years ago.
Ms. Solecki stated that there is a board of trustees that governs the restoration and management of the restoration activities at this site. She stated that she is on the board, along with Fran Harty. The board is composed of a total of four representatives of the Barnhart family and three representatives from conservation organizations. Fifty-eight of the total 80 acres is in some stage of restoration. The 58-acre portion is typical of a young prairie restoration. The remaining 22 acres is scheduled to be planted in the next 3-4 years. As part of the C2000 easement, there is a management plan that requires the Barnharts to restore the entire 80 acres within the easement within 14 years of when they sold the easement in the year 2000.
Adjacent land uses were discussed. The University of Illinois (U of I) has an active farm research program. One of the challenges that face the U of I South Farms is odor management. As part of this, they have expanded and moved further south. As part of the South Farms modernization plan, the U of I has been purchasing land that has been in private ownership, and they now have various facilities built. The U of I wants the transition area to remain as open space to mitigate the odor problem. The U of I wants to remain a good neighbor to the surrounding landowners. The modernization plans calls for a green corridor concept where they intend to hook up existing green space. The Barnhart Prairie restoration is consistent with the U of I’s transitional usage of this area as part of their South Farms project. The U of I has contacted the Barnhart family in the past and let them know not to build additional buildings near the existing green space. The U of I land acquisition program has advised the Barnharts that the prairie restoration is completely compatible with their open space needs.
In addition to the 80 acres that is currently in the easement, the Barnharts have applied for additional C2000 funding to put an additional 200 acres (south and to the west of the existing planting) in a conservation easement. The 200 acres of crop land is currently owned by a cousin and their mother.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked if the drain tiles are going to remain on the property.
Ms. Solecki stated that there are existing drain tiles under
parts of the prairie, and there has been some discussion on whether the tiles
should be blocked or broken. There are no specific plans to do this in the
next year, but it is hoped that the hydrology can eventually be restored to
its natural state.
Chair Drucker asked that if the Franklin’s ground squirrel was not present at this site, would it meet the criteria for a nature preserve.
Ms. Solecki stated that the site probably would not qualify in its current condition. She stated that within three to five years, as the prairie planting matures, it would qualify. Three years ago Donald Barnhart wanted to dedicate this as a nature preserve, but the Franklin’s ground squirrel was not a listed species then. She stated that she did a site survey three years ago to look for two acres of grade B prairie, but there was not enough grade B prairie acreage at that time.
Chair Drucker asked if it is known how mobile is the population of the Franklin’s ground squirrel and is it possible that the population will move to another site.
A status and ecology report was submitted to the ESPB. The report showed that the Franklin’s ground squirrel has the potential to be a mobile species, however, they seem to have a strong sense of identity to certain places that have all their habitat requirements. It is thought that Barnhart Prairie is one of the few places that has the necessary habitat requirements.
Chair Drucker asked if the restoration could potentially adversely affect the Franklin’s ground squirrel population.
Ms. Solecki stated that most of the burrows were present in established grassland, whether is was cool season or warm season. The ground squirrels do not go onto the crop land to the west. The crop land is being replanted, and that will create additional habitat for them to forage and expand into.
Don McFall stated that the qualifying feature at this site is the Franklin’s ground squirrel. In this case, managing the area in ways that would be contrary to how a traditional prairie restoration would be managed would be appropriate.
Fran Harty stated that Route 45 is two miles to the east of this property. There have been Franklin’s ground squirrels found just south of the City of Urbana and Champaign since 1950, and this is probably the source population for Barnhart Prairie. The Franklin’s ground squirrel is very loyal to a site. The problem at Des Plaines is that it is also a pheasant factory, and poison was placed to kill rodents. The ground squirrel would probably still be at that site if it were not for that act of management. It is likely that the ground squirrel will stay at the Barnhart Prairie as long as there is viable habitat.
Mr. McFall stated that there is also precedence that if the qualifying species is no longer at a dedicated nature preserve, it is then used as a recovery site.
Mr. McFall stated that staff now feel comfortable bringing this property before the Commission for dedication as a nature preserve because there is a threatened or endangered species on the site. That has been the traditional standard, however, it could be dedicated based on the prairie restoration alone.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Barnhart Prairie Restoration in Champaign County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 9 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
Chair Drucker asked Ms. Solecki to thank the Barnhart family for their dedication and work to preserve their land.
186-10) Kankakee Co. – Pembroke Savanna Nature Preserve,
Kim Roman presented a proposal for preliminary approval for dedication of Pembroke Savanna as an Illinois nature preserve. Owned by the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), this 65 acres site is recognized on the INAI (#54) for its high quality dry sand savanna. Pembroke Savanna harbors numerous uncommon flora and fauna including the state threatened regal fritillary butterfly (Speyeria idalia) and the regionally rare fame flower (Talinum rugospermum). It is currently considered the best example of dry sand savanna in all of Illinois. Additionally, this site is part of a high quality, large-scale ecosystem of national significance. TNC wishes to provide the highest level of protection available in Illinois by dedicating it as Illinois nature preserve.
Ms. Roman stated that the main management concern at this site is ATV use. This is the largest sand dune in Pembroke Township, and people come from the area to ride ATVs. The dedication of this property will give the IDNR Conservation Police the ability to enforce the ban on ATV use in a dedicated nature preserve.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Keating, and carried, with Drucker abstaining, that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Pembroke Savanna as an Illinois nature preserve in Kankakee County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
186-11) McHenry Co. - Addition to Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve,
Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for dedication of an addition to Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve. The 5.47-acre addition to Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve, owned by Lorna and Evan Gladstone, is located within the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division of Illinois in McHenry County. Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve, and a small portion of the proposed addition, are part of the Gladstone Fen INAI (#1265). This site was recognized for high quality graminoid fen, calcareous seep, and sedge meadow wetland communities. The 6.44 -acre Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve was conferred final approval for dedication at the Commission’s 131st Meeting in May, 1991 (Resolution #1084). In 1999, the McHenry County Conservation District acquired an additional 38 acres of this INAI site. That acquisition, together with the amount of land formally protected by the Gladstone family (with this proposal 11.9 acres), brings the total amount of land protected at this site to 49.9 acres. Dedication of the proposed addition will protect the surface hydrology of the existing Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve, provide for expanded restoration efforts along a stream course that drains the INAI site, and protect surviving remnants of sedge meadow and mesic prairie. Dedication of this tract by Lorna and Evan Gladstone will serve as a model, in much the same way as the original dedication of Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve by Lee and Gertrude Gladstone, for further protection and stewardship efforts within this portion of the Boone Creek watershed.
Mr. Byers stated that the hydrologic study that is in the dedication proposal (Appendix C) provides for a series of French drains to dissipate the water that is coming from a single discharge point. The attempt will be to infiltrate that water back into the ground and trap it to reduce the amount of water that is surface flowing through the drainage. The hydrologic study also allows for repair of some of the damage that has been created by the single discharge point.
Lorna Gladstone thanked the Commission for considering this site for dedication as an addition to Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve. She stated that this is the second generation for ownership of this land, and it has been a joy to work with the INPC and IDNR to properly manage the site. Ms. Gladstone stated that because the fen is so small with numerous communities present, it is important to determine how to deal with the hydrologic problems. The hydrological study will collect information that will be used at larger fens to deal with the same types of problems.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon stated that this is the second presentation today where it is the second generation of landowners working to restore land, and it is reaffirming the work of the Commission staff. There is only so much land to protect, and it is wonderful to see this land protected. He stated that their parents must be very proud, and he is certainly proud to be a part in helping them to do that.
Ms. Gladstone stated that Mr. Byers and others have taught them about management of their land by gentle, but constant involvement. Through that instruction, they have developed the desire to see that their land is protected. She stated that the Commission should not underestimate the impact of the field staff contacting and working with the landowners.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon stated that the excellent work done by the field staff is evident at each Commission meeting.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the hydrologic study for Gladstone Fen Nature Preserve as presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
Chair Drucker thanked the Gladstones for their dedication and management of their property.
186-12) Jackson Co. - Lovets Pond Nature Preserve, Dedication
Judy Faulkner Dempsey presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of Lovets Pond as an Illinois nature preserve. Lovets Pond, owned by the IDNR, is recognized on the INAI (#1175). The Lovets Pond INAI site is located in the Southern Section of the Lower Mississippi River Bottomlands Natural Division. Lovets Pond is a wetland ecosystem of 150 acres 15 miles east of Murphysboro in Jackson County. The site is characterized by six natural communities, including pond, shrub swamp, swamp, marsh, floodplain forest, and successional field. The communities provide habitat for aquatic and semi-aquatic organisms, 328 taxa of vascular flora, four endangered and two threatened animal species. The natural character of Lovets Pond is similar to the earliest known presettlement description of the land. The pond, shrub swamp, swamp, and marsh are high natural quality and are rare in the natural division. Only two other significant natural ponds remain in this natural division. The Commission granted preliminary approval for dedication of 90 acres at this site at its 185th Meeting (Resolution #1815) in February, 2005.
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 Lovets Pond as an Illinois nature preserve in Jackson County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
186-13) Marshall Co. – Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dedication
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang are seeking final approval of a 0.5-acre addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, which is an 8.3-acre site included within the 78-acre Hopewell Estates Hill Prairies Natural Area (INAI #321) in the village of Hopewell. At the 185th INPC meeting, the Commission granted preliminary approval for this nature preserve addition (Resolution #1816). The currently dedicated nature preserve, owned by Dr. Brucker and Ms. Yang, contains a grade A glacial drift hill prairie on lot #117 and grade B hill prairie on lot #139. The proposed nature preserve addition on lot #138 supports woodland communities representative of the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division, which includes grade C woodland with white oak (Quercus alba), mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), red oak (Q. rubra), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) in the canopy and hazelnut (Corylus americana), black haw (Viburnum prunifolium), and bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) present in the shrub layer. French grass (Orbexilum onobrychis) is present within the ground flora in more open areas. Dedication of the proposed addition will increase the area of the nature preserve to 8.8 acres.
It was moved by Flemal, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve in Marshall County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
There was a break for lunch from 12:05 - 1:05 p.m.
186-14) McHenry Co. – Boloria Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of Boloria Fen and Sedge Meadow as an Illinois nature preserve. Owned by the Boone Creek Watershed Alliance, this 36-acre tract is located in the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division in McHenry County and is named in recognition of an abundance of Silver-bordered fritillary (Boloria selene). This site was recently included on the INAI (#1705) for high quality graminoid fen and sedge meadow communities. Dry-mesic forest dominates the balance of the site. Boloria Fen and Sedge Meadow was acquired by the Boone Creek Watershed Alliance with the financial assistance of the IDNR C2000 program and the landowner. The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission’s 185th Meeting in February, 2005 (Resolution #1817).
Mr. Byers recognized Dennis Dreher for his interest and commitment he has brought to the watershed and for crafting the watershed protection plan. His ongoing work with the restoration and management has been extensive. There has been large scale clearing of invasive woody species through a grant with TNC and the Forest Service to allow for a machine to come in and clear extensive stands of invasive woody species. In addition, control burns have been initiated on this site.
Lorna Gladstone, President of the Boone Creek Watershed Alliance (BCWA), read a letter from a landowner who lives on one of the edges of Boloria Fen and Sedge Meadow congratulating the BCWA on their efforts to protect the area for future generations. She stated that this landowner was one of the first three couples to move into Bull Valley approximately 50 years ago.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Boloria Fen and Sedge Meadow as an Illinois nature preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
Chair Drucker thanked the BCWA for their efforts at this site.
186-15) McHenry Co. – Dolly Kuetemeyer Woodlands Addition
of Nature Preserve Buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of the Dolly Kuetemeyer Woodlands addition of nature preserve buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve. Owned by Mr. Warren Kuetemeyer, this 6.95-acre site is located in McHenry County within the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division of Illinois. The proposed addition honors the memory of Mr. Kuetemeyer’s late wife, Dolly. This tract received preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission’s 180th Meeting in September, 2003 (Resolution #1740). The tract has ecological significance because its is located adjacent to the Boone Creek Fen and Seep (INAI #1015). It serves as an important groundwater recharge zone for this INAI site and supports remnants of mature dry-mesic forest. Dedication of the Dolly Kuetemeyer Woodlands as nature preserve buffer will increase the amount of land formally protected as nature preserve or nature preserve buffer by landowners within this INAI site from 88.15 to 95.1 acres.
Mr. Byers acknowledged John Nelson’s effort in working with Mr. Kuetemeyer to install a water treatment that would negate the need for salt or chlorides.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Keating, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of the Dolly Kuetemeyer Woodlands addition of nature preserve buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
186-16) Cook Co. – Busse Woods Nature Preserve, Spillway Modification at Busse Woods Reservoir
John Nelson introduced John Steffen, DuPage County Department of Development and Environmental Planning. He stated that Mr. Steffen would update the Commission on a proposed plan for action at the Busse Woods Spillway Modification at Busse Woods Reservoir.
Mr. Steffen stated that Busse Woods is north of DuPage County. In the early 1990s DuPage County adopted a watershed plan to control the flooding along Salt Creek. In 1987 there was a significant flood that caused over $200 million in damage. The watershed plan called for four new reservoirs, and they have been constructed. The Busse Woods spillway modification was also outlined in the watershed plan. While the project is not within the boundary of the Nature Preserve, INPC project approval is required as part of an inter-governmental agreement between DuPage County and the Cook County Forest Preserve District (CCFPD). DuPage County is responsible for the design, construction, and operation of modification. The CCFPD is responsible for the access and land rights to do the project, and the IDNR will be paying for the project.
As described at the 182nd Meeting of the INPC, the Busse Woods
dam is a weir type structure with two bays. Each weir is approximately 37
½ feet. The proposal is to provide an approximately three foot high
inflatable dam on one of the bays. In its unused state, the dam will act as
normal for the first two feet. The inflatable dam only comes into play during
flood conditions. Once there is more than two feet of water coming over the
weir, the dam will inflate to three feet. This will block off the flow from
one of the bays. Changes have been made due to the comments received from
the 182nd Meeting. The Busse Woods Nature Preserve is approximately a mile
and a half upstream from the dam. It is not in the core area of the reservoir.
When it does flood, the back water does tend to get into the Nature Preserve.
One change would be to make the dam smaller such as a 2-2 ½ foot dam
to minimize or eliminate the impacts to the Nature Preserve. Another option
would be to operate the dam only during the non-growing season and only when
it is needed during the growing season. Busse Woods dam modification is the
last resort in the watershed plan. They do not plan to operate it during every
storm. It will only be used during big events when downstream reservoirs are
unable to provide the full benefit. He stated that the downstream reservoirs
are operated in a real time network. They can look at the rainfall and determine
how they need to operate. They feel that they can do a good job of optimizing
the reservoirs downstream so they shouldn’t have to operate the Busse
Woods dam very often. The dam can be inflated and deflated as the need occurs.
He stated that DuPage County did hire an environmental firm, Applied Ecological
Services in September, 2004. Since this was late in the growing season, the
environmental firm did not feel that they had enough information to make sound
recommendations on the criteria to optimize the operation of the dam. Four
transects were developed at the Nature Preserve, and some vegetative inventory
was done. Five monitoring wells were placed in those transects to monitor
the groundwater. Each well is checked every two weeks, and they will be checked
on a daily basis during a flood event. A spring inventory is being done, and
that report will be ready in June, 2005. Mr. Steffen stated he will get the
report to the Commissioners as soon as it is released, and he would like the
Commission to submit its comments as soon as possible. The final design will
incorporate those comments, and it is hoped that the final design can be presented
to the Commission at its August, 2005, meeting for its approval of the project.
Jerry Robinson, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, stated that the information presented by Mr. Steffen at the 182nd Commission Meeting assumed that the inflatable dam, once it was inflated, it never deflated. That was a worse case scenario for the durations that were shown. Mr. Robinson stated that he could improve upon that by coming up with the operating schedule. There is flexibility that can be built into the operation of this structure. The dam can be deflated once the water has gone down.
Chair Drucker stated that the advantage to that would be that the dam would be deflated right after the storm so the inundation, if it occurs, will occur for a shorter period of time.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon thanked Mr. Steffen for his response to his letter. He stated that Dr. Weir from the Morton Arboretum, did a study on inundation. Apparently his findings were based on a 120 hour duration. According to Dr. Weir’s study he did for the plants and trees, under 120 hours of inundation showed no appreciable affect. Over that, it was more of a problem.
Mr. Steffen stated that he has taken those findings into consideration, and he has talked with Dr. Weir recently. Dr. Weir advised him that he felt his time of duration was conservative, and it was his opinion that other research has shown that the time of inundation could be longer especially during the late growing season. Mr. Steffen stated that based on the information that he has now, the area of concern will not be the trees but more of the vegetative cover.
Commissioner Keating asked if there was a plan to maintain the inflatable bladder.
Mr. Robinson stated that there is a plan to operate and maintain the inflatable bladder through the inter-governmental agreement and will be the responsibility of DuPage County. The manufacturer of the inflatable bladder, Bridgestone Firestone, has advised that their oldest inflatable bladder is approximately 30 years old. It is on a major river where it has experienced more debris than what is expected at this site. These dams have held up well in climates such as Pennsylvania. It is proven technology.
John Nelson stated that at the 182nd Commission Meeting a lot of the focus was downstream of the spillway. Now the focus is on what happens upstream, which is what the Commission has asked Mr. Steffen’s office to do. Hopefully in June the report will contain the information the Commissioners need to make an informed decision.
Chair Drucker thanked Mr. Steffen and Mr. Robinson for the time and effort they have devoted to this issue.
186-17) Natural Areas Acquisition Fund Fiscal Year 2006 Stewardship
and Defense Programs
Randy Heidorn updated the Commission on the budget proposal for the real estate transfer tax for 2006. Mr. Heidorn discussed how the real estate transfer tax is allocated. Fifty percent of the money goes to the affordable housing fund, 35% goes to open space land acquisition and development, and 15% goes to the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF). That 15% has translated into, based on predictions of the money that will come in and past history, $10.6 million being proposed for appropriation from the NAAF. The IDNR is proposing to allocate it as follows: $5.3 million would be used for land acquisitions, $3.4 million for operations of the IDNR (restoration ecologists, and those staff that do that type of work within IDNR), $1.2 million for the operation of the INPC, and the remainder would be divided between stewardship projects in the amount of $590,000, and $100,000 going to the defense of natural areas. The defense of natural areas would be a contract with the University of Illinois (Geological Survey and Water Survey). This money funds the contract with the Geological Survey and Water Survey. This is slightly different than what has been done in previous years in terms of the capital side. The operation side is one part of the budget, and the capital side is the land acquisition and the stewardship portion of the budget. The big difference from previous years is that defense of natural areas has come out entirely from the stewardship side. Starting with FY 2006, because defense issues are a regular part of everything the INPC and IDNR does, it was decided to take the $100,000 off the top of the capital budget. The stewardship and land acquisition was then divided, with 90% of the remainder going to land acquisition and 10% going to stewardship. There has been a significant increase in the amount of money that is being put towards stewardship. In previous budgets, only $450,000 was allocated to stewardship. An increased amount of money is being allocated to management of the resources within the system of natural areas, nature preserves, and land and water reserves.
Mr. Heidorn stated that Bob Szafoni stepped up when the need arose for someone to take over the stewardship coordination when Brian Reilly and Patti Reilly left the Department. This is an extra effort on top of his regular duties as a Restoration Ecologist with the IDNR, and he should be commended for this.
Bob Szafoni stated that it is a pleasure for him to do this because he feels very strongly that conservation does not really happen until something is affected on the ground. Stewardship is a big component of that. He stated he would like to recognize the field staff of the INPC and the field staff of Restoration Ecology. For FY 2005, 36 specific stewardship projects were funded statewide. This is something that usually happens over a 12 month interval. Because of the budget cycle, the field staff had to step up and do this within the last five months. This was done in an extremely dynamic contractual environment and during a busy time of year due to the burn season and exotic species control. Staff showed an extreme amount of dedication to get these projects done.
Mr. Szafoni reiterated that $590,000 has been budgeted for stewardship projects in FY 2006. This has been divided into three components: $405,000 for site specific stewardship projects on nature preserves, land and water reserves, INAI sites, and lands that immediately buffer those sites. There is a total of 67 projects in the package that was provided to the Commissioners. There are two lists. One list is for sites not owned by the IDNR for a total of 23 projects totaling approximately $130,000. The projects on the second part of the list will be performed on nature preserves, land and water reserves, and INAI sites owned by the IDNR for a total of 44 projects totaling $275,000. There are still approximately 85 unfunded projects on the list totaling $463,000. There is a regional and INPC stewardship project budget of $180,000. This is divided into six units of $30,000, one to each IDNR region and one to the INPC. This is used primarily to fund the same types of work done for a stewardship project, but it allows more flexibility to handle an emergency need. In many cases it also allows staff to provide a match to a federal grant where matching money is required. There is $5,000 for the INPC and IDNR to help support the Volunteer Stewardship Network which is sponsored by the INPC and TNC.
Chair Drucker stated that the Commission is responsible for the NAAF, and the Commission is to review and approve the budget for spending the money in the NAAF. The staff have reviewed the projects throughout the State, and the Commission has the responsibility to approve the recommendations of the staff if it feels the proposal is appropriate. He stated that it is his opinion that the Commission should exercise its oversight responsibility on the theory that the Governor appoints people to Commissions to discharge the responsibility of the Commission. The INPC Commissioners would not be doing a service to the Governor unless they reviewed and approved how monies were being spent. If the Commissioners agree with the methodology, they should give the approval, and if they disagree, they should let it be known why and where they disagree. The real estate transfer tax amount for FY 2006 is only an estimate at this time. To the extent that we underestimate the amount of money that will be collected through this tax, there is a portion above and beyond that which is collected that is never earmarked for anything. There are some very important projects, one being the INAI update, which is going to be an approximately $6 million project, $2 million dollars over each of the next three years. This project goes to the very core of what the Commission does. He stated that he could not imagine a better or more logical use for some of the funds that have not been appropriated from the real estate transfer tax. He stated that the Commission should weigh in to say that it should be the State’s responsibility to fund the INAI update rather than expecting private organizations, not-for-profit organizations, Clean Energy Foundation, and TNC to come up with the money to fund the process. Another part of the Commission’s task is the $5.3 million for land acquisition. That land acquisition list is reviewed by the Commission before it is approved. The $1.2 million for the INPC goes to pay the salaries of the INPC staff. When looking at what the State gets for that money, it is unbelievable leverage in terms of return to the State for land protected. He stated that the Commission should demand an accounting of the total amount collected by the State from the real estate transfer tax for the FY 2005. If the amount was underestimated, the Commission should make recommendations on what should be done with the surplus funds. Clearly the Commission has huge needs to appropriate the available monies to protect the natural areas of Illinois.
Commissioner Allread stated that she agrees with Chair Drucker’s
recommendation to monitor the amount collected from the real estate transfer
tax so the Commission may earmark the additional funds. She stated that the
report given by Mr. Szafoni was very comprehensive, and the only disturbing
thing is that there are 85 unfunded projects totaling $463,000. She stated
that along with the INAI update, the unfunded stewardship projects should
be addressed. She is happy to see the growth in the funding, but the Commission
should find ways to increase that stewardship budget.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon stated that he also agrees with Chair Drucker and Commissioner Allread. He stated that the legislature passed an act that expanded the reach of the transfer tax act which is generally applied to transfers of real estate between parties where there is consideration paid or transfers of interest in land trusts or things like that. The way that the act has been changed, the wording is so broad that theoretically any transfer of land for consideration or not could be subject to the tax. The county recorders are doing different things because there is no set procedure. In some counties, any transfer is being taxed. If someone is putting property into their own living trust for estate planning purposes, tax is being collected on that transaction. The calling for an audit is a wonderful idea because the collection from the transfer tax act may have a significant jump, and the Commission may have some leverage to request more funding.
Carl Becker stated that the information regarding the amount of money from the real estate transfer tax that is not currently earmarked can be requested from the Illinois Department of Revenue. He stated that there is approximately $4 million that is not appropriated at this time. He stated that $10 million could have been requested on the capital side because there is $4 million that has not been appropriated. He stated that he agrees with the opinions expressed by the Commissioners that the unappropriated money should be accounted for and put toward funding the stewardship projects. It is appropriate to be conservative with the estimated appropriations for the next budget year, however, one needs to take into account the extra money remaining in the account from the previous year. Mr. Becker stated that when the stewardship projects are identified, the staff know that there is a certain amount of money. If staff knew that there would be more than $590,000 of stewardship dollars available, staff would identify more projects.
Randy Nyboer stated that both the funding for operations for the IDNR Restoration Ecologists and the INPC come from the NAAF, and it was his opinion that the ESPB should be incorporated into the funding needs for their operating budget and stewardship projects in the amount of $350,000. He stated that the money is obviously there, but the issue is getting it appropriate for certain line items. When the ESPB did have a staff, the money did not come out of the NAAF, but now it is time to use the NAAF to fund these activities.
Steven Byers stated that the Commission staff is very good at leveraging those modest dollars, and it may be appropriate to capture the amount of money that is leveraged because of the commitment to stewardship. It allows the staff to make applications for other grant opportunities because they are able to show part of the match.
Randy Heidorn stated that one thing the Commission is doing more of, is using the State Wildlife grant. As that program expands, the Commission is building a system where it can move from the typical project costing $5,000-$10,000 to the $25,000-$50,000 range. The more the Commission builds the stewardship dollars from the NAAF, the more matching funds can be captured from federal dollars.
Chair Drucker stated that if the Commission allows its staff more stewardship dollars, it will bring more dollars into the State. It will not be a net loss from the budget.
Chair Drucker asked if the $3.4 million in the proposed FY 06 is just for the Natural Heritage section.
Don McFall stated that the core of the $3.4 million is for
natural heritage, but there is funding for support personnel for natural heritage
activities and support for land acquisition.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the stewardship component of the Fiscal Year 2006 Natural Areas Acquisition Fund budget as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 186th Meeting.
Carl Becker stated that the planning begins for the FY 2007 budget in September, 2005. He suggested that at the 187th Commission Meeting, the Commission should make recommendations to the IDNR for the FY 2007 budget.
Chair Drucker stated that the Commission would like to have an idea, if there were more money available, how the Commission would recommend that money be spent.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked that a report be presented at the 187th Commission Meeting regarding the audit of the NAAF and present a list of things the staff would like to see funded from the unappropriated dollars in the NAAF.
Commissioner Keating stated that he feels it is a good idea for the Commission to be more proactive in terms of approving budgets. To do that, however, he felt that the Commissioners were going to need much more information than what has been given so far. Once the information is gathered and the recommendations have made, a justified request can be made for the funds.
186-18) Designing and Establishing Buffers Around Nature Preserves and Land and Water Reserves
Don McFall stated that on a regular basis the Commission is asked to approve buffers to nature preserves and land and water reserves. At times, the sites are marginal or highly damaged and would not be eligible for the programs on their own merit. There is, however, a very critical need to protect what is already set aside legally. Mr. McFall stated that a discussion on how and why a buffer is used was suggested to further inform the Commissioners on the subject.
Nature preserves and land and water reserves typically include a highly significant "core" area and surrounding lands of lesser quality that buffer the significant feature from incompatible adjacent land uses. Incompatible adjacent land uses can damage or destroy the features for which a preserve or reserve was established. Nature preserves are dedicated in perpetuity, as are most of the land and water reserves, and assuring the long term viability of these areas is a critical responsibility of the INPC. The INPC staff use the principles of preserve design as they work with landowners, on a voluntary basis, to establish the boundaries of new nature preserves and land and water reserves and propose additions to existing preserves and reserves.
Mr. McFall stated that the Natural Areas Preservation Act (NAPA) gives some guidance on the use of a buffer. There are also traditional preserve design concepts that are considered in the buffer process. The NAPA limits the legal buffer to nature preserves and defines a nature preserve buffer as an area of land that protects, provides access to, or otherwise serves to a necessary adjunct to a nature preserve or land that, in the opinion of the Commission, will, with protection, become a natural area suitable for dedication as a nature preserve in the future. This is a broad statement, and it is in practice that staff has defined the use of buffer. There is no comparable buffering for the land and water reserves.
Mr. McFall stated that 93 of the 323 nature preserves include dedicated buffers. Of the 43,800 acres in the Nature Preserves System, 4,000 acres are dedicated as nature preserve buffer. The average size of a dedicated nature preserve buffer is 43 acres. This is a modest amount of land around the core of a high quality site. The major difference between nature preserve and nature preserve buffer is that there is a lesser legal standard for justifying the taking of a nature preserve buffer for some other public use. A nature preserve is declared to be put to the highest, best, and most important use for the public benefit by remaining a natural area. A nature preserve may not be taken by eminent domain, except for another public use and except upon approval of the Commission, the Governor, or any public owner of the nature preserve of the existence of imperative and unavoidable public necessity for a public use. That is a standard that has not been met in the 40 year existence of the INPC. The taking for a nature preserve buffer may occur if the Commission, the Governor, or any public owner of a dedicated nature preserve buffer jointly approve the taking of land or allowing an intrusion for another public use after finding by the Commission that such taking or intrusion would be in the public interest.
He stated that Commission staff will talk about the biological buffer around a high quality core.
Tom Lerczak stated that the core area is the high quality community or qualifying feature that needs to be protected from unwanted disturbance. A buffer is that area of lesser quality that is protecting the core area from things that are happening outside of the buffer. At Roderick Prairie Nature Preserve in Macoupin County, the significant feature is a population of the large ground plum and a population of prairie trout lily. Both of these populations occur in a natural community, Roderick Barrens Natural Area. The size of the natural area where the two threatened species occur is approximately one acre. In terms of nature preserve design, that small area needed to protected. The landowner wanted to protect six acres as nature preserve, and that was done. The nature preserve could have been just one acre with the remaining five areas dedicated as buffer. Since the landowner wanted to dedicate the entire six acres as nature preserve, a buffer designation was not done. Another consideration at this site was to make the area slightly larger to make it possible to burn it safely and efficiently. The long term plans for the entire site are to apply restoration and management techniques to improve the quality of the entire site. Through prescribed fire and stewardship projects, the size of the core area is gradually increasing. It is expected that one day the entire Nature Preserve will be of higher quality.
Mr. Lerczak stated that if there is a buffer around a core area, and the buffer improves in quality to a point where it is the same quality as the core area, one must ask if a buffer is then needed around that because it ceases to function as a buffer. It is a question that comes up when one starts out with a text book definition.
Another example where the concept of buffer fits even less well is with a plant called decurrent false aster (Boltonia decurrens) that occurs along the Illinois River Valley. It is a plant that needs a disturbed environment, and it tends to occur in areas after a large flood or areas that have been cleared such as a sand flat or a mud flat. A natural area along the Illinois River Valley in East Peoria was designated as Cooper Park Natural Area based on a large population of this plant. After a few years, the plant may not occur at the site if there is no disturbance. At Cooper Park Wetlands Land and Water Reserve in Tazewell County, decurrent false aster occurs along the shoreline, but not consistently in one place every year. Boundaries for the Land and Water Reserve were drawn from on the ground GPS readings. The neighbors had the land surveyed, and they have decided to build up the level of their ground so they can do more activities related to their construction company. There was some encroachment onto the Land and Water Reserve with their heavy equipment. Some of the trees were knocked down and the soil was disturbed in the area. Mr. Lerczak stated that he met with representatives of the construction company, and they took corrective action. The intrusion was resolved with informal meetings, and no legal action was necessary. The natural community type at this site is floodplain forest, and it is part of the protected area. There is no buffer between the Land and Water Reserve and the neighboring landowner. What was functioning as a buffer was wooded property which is owned by the construction company, and they removed that wooded area. Decurrent false aster came up in the bulldozer tracks. This plant will remain for a couple of years, then it will rapidly lose out to competition with other species.
When putting together a proposal, staff must operate under constraints of property lines, the landowner’s wishes, and aspects of the species to be protected. If there was a buffer area around a population of decurrent false aster, it would not be sustainable.
Chair Drucker asked if the staff have any guidelines on buffers
in terms of what type of buffer is needed for a particular species or the
management requirements for the qualifying feature.
Angella Moorehouse stated that certain species, such as a timber rattlesnake, need a two mile radius.
Randy Heidorn stated that the recommendations are directly related to the qualifying feature and are taken on a case-by-case basis.
Chair Drucker stated that because of the legal ramifications, the Commission needs to consider the designation carefully.
Mr. McFall stated that Chair Drucker had a valid point. Traditionally,
if there was no reason to think that the area would not recover in a fairly
reasonable amount of time, it would probably be incorporated into the nature
preserve. If it was a very damaged area, such as a field or something that
had been highly hyrologically damaged, the tendency would be designated as
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked if staff discuss the differences between the designation of a nature preserve and nature preserve buffer with the landowner.
Mr. Lerczak stated that he does not always discuss the differences. Some landowners ask for the highest form of protection for their land which is the nature preserve designation. He stated that if the situation aries where a portion of the land could be considered buffer, he will explain the difference in protection of the site.
Kim Roman stated that she also considers the legal description in making the decision of whether or not to have part of a site dedicated as buffer. If there is a large amount of work needed to define the buffer and describe it legally, it is her recommendation to dedicate the entire site as a nature preserve.
Mr. McFall stated that this a good practical consideration for making this type of decision. Field staff are unable to have the sites surveyed, so they must develop the legal description with the resources they have.
Chair Drucker stated that there are areas where human use and
the nature preserves are running into issues, and he does not want the core
areas to come under attack and have the protection somehow weakened through
legislative effort. If there is a buffer, there is a way for the Commission
to review on a case by case basis to determine if it is in the public benefit.
John Nelson stated that in an ideal preserve design, all nature preserves would have a buffer. The intent of the NAPA when defining the buffer gave the Commission a tool that would reach beyond the core natural areas and protect land that would not normally qualify for protection through the Commission’s programs. The buffer can keep development at least an arm’s length away from the core natural area. If the encroachment incurs into a nature preserve area that is not the core natural area, it does have an impact as to what damage was really done to the nature preserve by the encroachment. In a case like this, the question would be does the level of damage really rise to the level of $10,000 a day and threats that the Commission makes to protect these high quality areas, and he would say that it would not. When there is no buffer between outside development and the nature preserve, it is almost asking for conflict because the two land uses are not compatible. It is even worse if it is commercial development. It was his opinion that the NAPA gives the Commission a tool to reach beyond the high quality natural areas and enroll lands that would not qualify into a protection program and buffer the high quality areas. He stated that the Commission could dedicate just about any type of land as a nature preserve buffer, and Steven Byers has done a great job of using buffering as a tool for the fen wetlands to protect the recharge areas. These areas are not on the INAI, but they are within the recharge area and are very important as buffer. He stated that he understands the practicality of working with landowners and why the boundaries are done the way they are, but he also feels that it is very important to have buffer for a transition between the competing land uses. This is especially important in places in northeastern Illinois and near St. Louis. He stated that it also reflects on the Commission’s integrity when an intrusion does occur by the adjacent landowner onto an area that is not of high quality. If it was designated as a buffer, it may be easier to handle from a threat coordinator’s perspective. There are also more allowable uses in a buffer, and it makes the staff’s job easier if the landowner comes back and wants to allow something like a sewer line to be placed through that area. If it were designated as a buffer, it would be a simple matter for the Commission to rule on.
Mr. McFall stated that a buffer can be upgraded to an addition of nature preserve if the quality increased over time.
Dennis Deher stated that in northeast Illinois there is an ally in terms of protection of buffers around aquatic systems such as wetlands, floodplains, and stream corridors in that four of the counties have ordinances that require a minimum of 50 feet to as much as 100 feet of buffer in addition to the protection of the aquatic resource. They also require management and/or restoration of that land.
Mr. Nelson stated that there is still a tax break for that buffer, and this is something that could be used as a marketing tool.
Chair Drucker stated that even a farm field could be good buffer, and the landowner could continue to farm it.
Angella Moorehouse stated that Cedar Glen Nature Preserve was dedicated in the mid 1970s. The original nature preserve was 188 acres in size and was carved out in little pieces. If it was not a natural area, it was buffer. Ms. Moorehouse stated that when deciding what should be done with a particular site, she asks herself if the area outside of the INAI site is in an ecologically poor condition that it cannot, within a couple decades, be grade B or C. If she doesn’t feel that it would meet this standard, she recommends that the area be designated as a buffer. In one case, Short Fork Seep in McDonough County, there was a site that had been heavily grazed for over 80 years, and there were 10 acres within the internal boundary that was on the INAI. The landowners wanted more flexibility and wanted the buffer to potentially do some wetland restoration along the creek. Jamar Haven Land and Water Reserve. owned by Roger and Gretchen Batz, is 196 acres in size. Ms. Moorehouse stated that the landowners came to her in 1997 and wanted to put their entire farm in a program to protect it somehow. Even though this was legitimate rattlesnake habit, she was not able to locate a live rattlesnake. She felt comfortable with the designation of the area as a land and water reserve because it was within two miles of the area where the rattlesnake was found. The landowners also had several land uses that were not compatible with a nature preserve designation. The five acres surrounding the geo exposure has been designated as a significant geological site. Stony Hills Nature Preserve is also owned by Roger and Gretchen Batz, and it is a 54.4 acres in size. All the buildings were excluded from the nature preserve, and the nature preserve is a portion of the 196-acre land and water reserve. This is and example of how staff can work with the individual landowner to meet their needs for protecting their property.
Steven Byers stated that there was an article regarding protecting
natural areas in fragmented landscapes which contained three recommendations
to reduce the effects of fragmentation. The recommendations were, "make
the islands bigger, provide compatible buffers, and try to provide landscape
Commissioner Allread stated that she would hesitate to put any restrictions on the staff because the flexibility has been so important in each case, and it would be difficult to anticipate the different scenarios.
Commissioner Keating stated that he would like to add that it was his opinion that the important thing for the INPC, in respect to the duties of dedicating land, is to help the field staff with anything they need. At this time he was not sensing that there was a need for any kind of change in definitions or regulations.
Commissioner Flemal stated that he is of the same mind. He stated that he is extraordinarily pleased with the kind of thinking going on among the field staff in the rationale that is used to make the kinds of decisions that are then brought before the Commission. The Commissioners should then ask questions on a case by case basis as to the appropriateness of the proposal. The combination of qualified field staff and a Commission that will consider each individual case is a good one.
Chair Drucker thanked the Commission staff for taking the time to make this presentation, and it was helpful to the Commissioners.
186-19) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
There was no public comment.
186 -20) Other Business
Chair Drucker stated that he may not be able to attend the 187th Commission Meeting on August 2, 2005, because of a prior commitment. At a prior meeting the Commission had rescheduled consideration of the Kedzior Woodland addition to Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve for the August meeting. He asked that, if possible, this item be postponed to the 188th Commission Meeting in October, 2005.
Tom Lerczak stated that postponing the item to the October, 2005 meeting would not cause a problem.
It was moved by Ross-Shannon, seconded by Flemal, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission will postpone the issue for the Kedzior Woodlands
addition to Harper-
Rector Woods Nature Preserve to the 188th Commission Meeting, October 18, 2005.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked if a decision was ever reached regarding the sewer line at Skokie River Nature Preserve.
Randy Heidorn stated that the issue has not moved forward.
Don McFall stated that the discussions from the Commission meeting were relayed, and he feels that a decision was made to take an alternate route that would avoid the Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Allread, and unanimously
approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 3:00 p.m.
Illinois Nature Preserves Commission
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702