Johnson and Pulaski Co. - Cache River Land and Water Reserve, Registration 8
Johnson and Union Co. - Cypress Pond Land and Water Reserve, Registration 9
McHenry Co. - Knox Farm Addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve, Registration 10
St. Clair Co. - DesPain Wetlands Land and Water Reserve, Registration 11
Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication 12
Cook Co. - Addition to Proposed Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication 13
Henry Co. - Mineral Marsh Nature Preserve, Dedication 14
Madison Co. - Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary
Addition of Buffer to John M.Olin Nature Preserve, Dedication 15
Marshall Co. - Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dedication 16
Pike Co. - Twin Culvert Cave Nature Preserve, Dedication 17
Vermilion Co. - Jordan Creek of the North Fork Nature Preserve, Dedication 18
Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication 19
McHenry Co. - Wilson Tract Addition to Buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve, Dedication 20
Will Co. - Hitts Siding Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication 21
Cook Co. - Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve - Request
to Delegate Authority to
Deputy Director for Stewardship to Review and Approve Proposal to Re-contour Landscape 22
Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes
Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation 23
Johnson Co. - Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Nature Preserve, Update on Erosion Control 24
Adoption of Agenda 2
Approval of Minutes of 160th Meeting, August 4, 1998 3
1999 Proposed Meeting Schedule and Locations 4
INPC Staff Report 5
IDNR Staff Report 6
IDNR, Office of Resource Conservation Reorganization 7
Public Comment Period 25
Other Business 26
161-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:10 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Ranney, the meeting began.
Chair Ranney reported that the Peoria Park District has dedicated more acreage than any other park district in the State of Illinois, so we are really proud to hold our meeting in Peoria at the Park District's Camp Wokanda Lodge. Chair Ranney thanked representatives of the Park District for the opportunity to meet here.
Carolyn Grosboll, Director of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC), gave the role call.
Members present: Dianne Burton, Jonathan Ellis, Guy Fraker, Lorin Nevling, Victoria Ranney, and Michael Schneiderman.
Members absent: Penny Beattie, Joyce O'Keefe, and Don Pierce.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Steven Byers, Bob Edgin, Judy Faulkner, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Patti Malmborg, Angella Moorehouse, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, Brian Reilly, Mary Kay Solecki, and Barbara Ver Steeg, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Kirby Cottrell, Jim Garner, and Tim Hickman, Office of Resource Conservation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Carl Becker, Dave Cooper, Mark Guetersloh, Bob Lindsay, Anne Mankowski, Randy Nyboer, Michael Redmer, and Michelle Simone, Division of Natural Heritage, IDNR; Jennifer Coady, Susan Dees, George Rose, and Barb Traeger, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Edward Armbrust, Dan Robinson, and Dr. K. Mrij, Illinois Natural History Survey, IDNR; Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society and INPC Consultant; Jane Amorosi, Gordon Goodman and Rita Martin, Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance; David Monk, Educational Resources in Environmental Sciences (ERES), Champaign; Susie Barber, Jean Dennis, Dick Jackson, Vern LaGesse, Tim Tear, and Susan Wainscott, The Nature Conservancy (TNC); Chris Ryan, volunteer, Peoria Park District and TNC; Wayne Freeman, Great Rivers Land Trust; Maury Brucker, Lloyd Perkins, and Emiko Yang, representing Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve; and Gene Vginski, Facility Manager, Camp Wokanda.
Chair Ranney gave an update on properties which were dedicated or registered at INPC's 160th meeting which was held at Byron Colby Barn at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois on August 4, 1998. Chair Ranney reported that legal protection of seven tracts of land totaling 1,026 acres was approved by the Commission. Four of these seven areas are owned by private individuals or not-for-profit conservation groups. The dollar value of the four tracts of non-government owned land is $564,000.00 based on a conservative estimate of the fair market value of the land. These properties include the Addition to Gensburg Markham Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, totaling .67 acres, with a value of approximately $13,000. The Mullaney Addition to Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve in Lake County, totaling approximately 4.5 acres, with a value of approximately $5,000, the 2-acre Wittman Addition to Boone Creek Fen in McHenry County with a value of approximately $10,000, and Colman Dells in Winnebago County is 54 acres with an estimated value of $540,000. So, a total of 57 acres were protected with an estimated value of $568,000. This land is protected because the Nature Preserves Commission has nine staff in the field working with private landowners. Chair Ranney thanked the private landowners who came here today, and she also thanked the staff for their hard work.
161-2) Adoption of Agenda
Chair Ranney reported one change in the order of the 161st Agenda. Item 19 will be presented after Item 12 because they are related topics.
It was moved by Burton, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the Agenda be adopted as amended.
161-3) Approval of Minutes of 160th Meeting, August 4, 1998
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Nevling and carried that the Minutes of the 160th INPC meeting be approved.
161-4) 1999 Proposed Meeting Schedule and Locations
Carolyn Grosboll reported that the following dates and locations are suggested for next year's meeting schedule:
2 February - Illinois State Library, Springfield
4 May - Volo Bog State Natural Area, Ingleside
3 August - Vermilion County Conservation District,Westville.
26 October - Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Burton and carried that the 1999 meeting schedule for the Commission be approved.
161-5) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll introduced Debbie Reider, who will begin working for the Commission on November 1, 1998, as an Office Specialist. Debbie worked for the Springfield Clinic for the last 19 years, and she lives in Taylorville, Illinois with her family. Carolyn stated that she is really happy to have Debbie join the INPC staff. Debbie will be replacing Karen Tish, who left the Commission in January, 1998.
Carolyn updated the Commission on four topics that were discussed at the last meeting. The first topic is in regards to the Brookville Lutheran Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve, located in Carroll County. At the last Commission meeting, Carolyn reported that the owners of the Nature Preserve had sued the Commission, as well as the IDNR, to have a judge determine whether or not the owners had the authority to bury people within the dedicated portion of the Nature Preserve. There is language in the dedication document that states that the owners have the right to, "maintain plots and markers of existing graves, or to use lots for burial purposes." However, Section 11 of the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act provides that lots cannot be conveyed for burial purposes once an area is dedicated. If lots had been conveyed for burial purposes prior to the dedication, the burials could occur, but that was not the case in this situation. There had been no lots conveyed prior to the dedication. The Attorney General's Office has agreed to represent the Commission in this matter, and a Status Hearing was held on October 19, 1998, where it was agreed that both parties would file motions for summary judgement, and ask the judge to determine, based upon the law, which party should prevail. Motions are to be filed by December 15, 1998. Replies are due in the middle of January, and a hearing is set for February 17, 1999, at 1:30 p.m. Carolyn will continue to keep the Commission updated as the case progresses through the system.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked Carolyn if there was some formal process by which INPC staff decided that this matters. Carolyn asked for clarification. Commissioner Schneiderman replied, that there is a cemetery in which we said we would allow burials, in which there are some existing graves. He asked if a professional review was completed to determine the potential adverse impacts to the Nature Preserve if the cemetery was used. Carolyn responded that this is a tract of land, part of which is an existing cemetery, and part of which has no burials occurring there. The dedicated portion, which is about half of an acre in size, is the area with no existing graves. This area is about a half of an acre in size. To bury people in that area would destroy the vegetation and the prairie plants for which it was dedicated to protect.
Carolyn also updated the Commission on the situation at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. At the last meeting, the Commission passed a resolution, after much discussion, urging the IDNR to "act at once to preserve the Fen, and if immediate cooperation of Material Service Corporation (MSC) was not forthcoming, to seek assistance from the Attorney General's Office to take appropriate legal action including an injunction against Material Services to have them stop mining."
The Commission's action was widely reported in the Chicago area press. Carolyn emphasized that the IDNR has been very helpful on this issue. The day after the last Commission meeting, on August 5, 1998, IDNR'S Director, Brent Manning, wrote a letter to Gerald Nagel, President of Material Service Corporation. Director Manning expressed his concern for the Fen, and that MSC may have a report indicating that the current mining activity is not harming the Fen. Manning also stated that if there was a report available showing there would not be a negative impact to the Fen, that MSC should provide it to IDNR staff so that they would have an opportunity to review it and make a determination as to whether or not it is going to have an impact. Manning's letter also referenced a meeting that was scheduled for August 11, 1998, of the technical staffs involved, and he emphasized the importance of MSC using that meeting as an opportunity to share any information that they have that would show there would not be a negative impact to the Fen.
The meeting of the technical staff was held on August 11, 1998. Nothing new was presented, but the parties did have an opportunity to share their opinions. In that respect, it was a good meeting. Several concerns were brought out, but little consensus was reached. MSC said that once this report was released, that it would alleviate a lot of the Commission's and IDNR's concerns, and the group then agreed to meet again once the report was released.
At the end of August, Chair Ranney and Carolyn each received calls from MSC informing them that MSC had been working on the report, but that they would need another four plus weeks to update it. In the interim, MSC indicated they planned to cease all mining adjacent to the Fen until the report was updated. This is exactly what the Commission was looking for, and we were very pleased about that. Chair Ranney and Carolyn thanked them for stopping the mining.
In early October, Carolyn stated she received an update from Frank Werderitsch of MSC indicating that MSC had seen a draft of the report being prepared by their consultants, but that it was not in the final stages yet. He was not sure when the Commission would receive a final copy, but they would continue the moratorium on their mining activities. Mr. Werderitsch told Carolyn that November is the end of the mining season. Once the report is received, staff will have an opportunity to review it and make a determination on whether or not the Commission and IDNR feels the mining activity is going to have an impact on the hydrology of the Fen.
The Attorney General's office has been briefed on this issue, and the Department and Commission staff are very much involved in monitoring the situation and updates will be provided as more is learned on this topic.
Carolyn Grosboll updated the Commission on the issues surrounding the Savanna Army Depot. Carolyn reported that at the last meeting, the Commission passed a resolution "urging the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to identify those areas on the Savanna Army Depot that are under the control of the Jo-Carroll Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) that contain significant natural resources so that a process could begin to protect those areas."
The identification of the significant natural resources has been completed by IDNR, and a meeting was held on September 21, 1998, between representatives of the LRA, the IDNR, the Governor's Office, the Natural History Survey, the Army, Representative I. Ron Lawfer, the Commission, and the Endangered Species Protection Board. John Moorehead was also there as the newly appointed Chairman of the LRA. Mr. Moorehead was the Executive Director of the Ft. Sheridan Local Redevelopment Authority; therefore, he has some experience in dealing with base closure issues.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss where the significant natural resources are located on the LRA's property, as well as to learn some of the ideas that the LRA has for developing the area, and also to discuss ways in which we can all work together.
The IDNR and the Natural History Survey presented maps describing where the significant natural resources are located and what areas could be developed or could be used for storage. Carolyn reported that there are several bunkers on the property that the LRA would like to use for storage areas which would be a compatible use.
Carolyn gave a presentation at this meeting on the Commission and the types of protection tools that the Commission offers. The meeting was very productive. She reported that at the end of the meeting, Representative Lawfer said that when he came to the meeting he was not very optimistic about its outcome, but upon leaving, he felt very positive. One of the more significant things that came out of the meeting was that the LRA will be working with the IDNR consultation staff to come up with a memorandum of agreement that will establish guidelines for use of the area. The LRA was very happy to have that option so that they will not have to enter into consultation on each proposed project.
Also at the meeting, a team was assembled from IDNR to work very closely with the LRA to make sure that as this process continues, that the IDNR can provide any assistance necessary to them. John Alesandrini will be serving as a representative from the Commission on that team. Carolyn stated that the team has already met once, and at that meeting John was able to give an update on the kinds of assistance and protection tools that the Commission offers. John also learned that the new Chair of the LRA will be putting together an environmental subcommittee in which John will be serving.
Carolyn Grosboll also gave an update on the dealings with the natural areas on the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. At the last meeting, the Commission passed a resolution urging the Forest Service to "expeditiously implement, as specified by law, those portions of the Forest Plan pertaining to the closure of natural areas to equestrian and other uses."
Shortly after the meeting, staff learned that the Shawnee National Forest had been sued in Federal Court by several equestrian groups. The groups are represented by the Mountain State's Legal Foundation based in Denver, Colorado. The lawsuit challenges the designation of two Research Natural Areas and the jurisdictional status of certain roads within the Shawnee. The areas that are involved were closed in the first round of closures in early 1997. The two Research Natural Areas are being challenged because they have old roads that go through them, and the lawsuit states that in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations which sets out the parameters for designation of Research Natural Areas, those areas have to be in pristine condition. The lawsuit alleges that if roads go through them, how can they be in pristine condition.
After reviewing the complaint, Carolyn determined that there was a distinction between what the Commission was asking them to do versus what the lawsuit was all about. The Commission was asking them to implement a plan that has been in existence for over six years that has the status of law, and the lawsuit dealt with the designation of Research Natural Areas, as well as jurisdictional status of certain roads.
In mid August, Carolyn sent a letter to the Forest Supervisor, Louise Odegaard, and copied Under Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Jim Lyons, Congressman Glen Poshard, and the Regional Forester, Robert Jacobs. The letter outlined the Commission's involvement in this issue and asked that the Forest Plan be implemented as provided in the resolution passed by the Commission. The letter recognized that a lawsuit had been filed against the Shawnee, but stated that what the Commission was asking them to do was different than the issues in the lawsuit.
In early September, Carolyn received a response from Forest Supervisor Odegaard. She indicated that the Forest Service was not going to proceed with any closures until the case was decided in Federal Court. She said that to close any areas might offend the Court by taking away options the Judge might have.
The letter also stated that it was a priority of the Shawnee to continue working to designate trails through at least two natural areas which contain corridors grandfathered in during the planning process before closing any other areas. The letter further stated that the Forest Plan was merely a broad, programmatic guide, and that its contents were not mandatory on the Shawnee. This interpretation was troubling because the Commission had always been told that the Plan did have the force of law. Finally, the letter stated that the Shawnee does not have money to implement the Plan because their budget in the area of natural areas management has been significantly decreased over the years. The Commission recognized that the Shawnee has financial limitations, and that is why INPC offered assistance and manpower to help delineate the boundaries of the natural areas over the last year.
Carolyn reported that several letters have been written to the Shawnee since this summer expressing concern about damage being done on the Shawnee. These letters have come from the Endangered Species Protection Board, as well as a well respected doctoral candidate at SIU Carbondale, and several other respected botanists from Illinois and Indiana. The newspapers have been writing on this topic almost daily. In fact, the outdoor writers from the area have taken this on as their issue. These writers generally write about hunting and fishing issues, but they feel very strongly that the Shawnee needs to take some action to protect the high quality natural areas.
INPC has learned that the Sierra Club is planning to file for intervenor status on behalf of the Shawnee. This is unique because generally the Sierra Club is suing the Shawnee, but in this instance the Sierra Club is going to be taking the Shawnee's side in helping to fight the lawsuit.
INPC staff are continuing to monitor this issue. Carolyn stated that she does not know what more can be done at this time since the Shawnee has taken the position that they will not close these areas because of the pending lawsuit. Carolyn reported that staff will be working with the Sierra Club to offer any assistance that they can in their intervenor status, and staff will do whatever they can to help the Shawnee in the lawsuit.
Judy Faulkner will be attending a strategic planning session to be held by the Forest Service in Chicago in mid November. It will be helpful to have INPC's concerns expressed at this meeting.
Chair Ranney asked if there were any questions from the Commission, and there were none.
Don McFall updated the Commission on some of the activities of the staff in the field since the last Commission meeting. Don stated that we had a great opportunity for some staff training and professional development when two national conferences that travel around the country landed here in the midwest which made it affordable for staff to attend. The 25th Annual Natural Areas Conference was October 6-10, 1998, at Mackinac Island in Michigan. Five of INPC staff, one on their own time, attended this conference. At the Natural Areas Conference, Randy Heidorn was elected to the Board of Directors of the Natural Areas Association for a three-year term. He will serve as Chair of a committee focusing on development of new information and tools for people working in the natural areas field in the United States.
The Natural Land Trust Rally was held October 18-20, 1998, in Madison, Wisconsin. Six staff were able to attend, two on their own time.
Steven Byers continues to be active with the Chicago Wilderness Recovery Plan Task Force. He spoke at a workshop hosted by the Fox Valley Land Foundation entitled "Conservation Design for Communities: Blending the Needs of Citizens, Developers, and Government." The featured speaker was Randall Arendt, a nationally known land use planner. The workshop was attended by over 200 Chicago area developers, consultants, municipalities, and natural resource agencies.
Patti Malmborg worked with IDNR to develop clean-up, monitoring and remediation plans for the Millhurst Fen INAI site in Kendall County where there was a major spill from the Lakehead pipeline into the Fen. Patti has also participated in a pilot study and evaluated the Wetland Watch program for Eco Watch.
As Carolyn previously mentioned, John Alesandrini is working again with the Savanna Depot LRA. INPC is hopeful that John will be asked to serve on the Environment Subcommittee to represent the Commission's interest there.
In accordance with the Commission's request last year, Brian Reilly is continuing to work with Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Iowa-Montana Rail Link to protect prairie remnants along their lines. Don reported that these efforts should have some success by later this year.
Angella Moorehouse assisted researchers from the Chicago Botanic Garden with locating, identifying, and collecting seeds of endangered species of plants to be used for genetic and propagation research. Don further reported that a field trip is planned here at Camp Wokanda after the meeting. For anyone wishing to walk through the area, Angella will be leading the tour. The camp has an INAI site located behind the lodge which is a wonderful glacial drift hill prairie, recognized as a very fine example of that community type. The Peoria Park District owns and protects it.
Tom Lerczak has negotiated two new Natural Heritage Landmarks. Leigh Woods Natural Heritage Landmark, located in Marshall County, is a 38-acre tract of dry mesic upland forest and ravines. It has a very good population of Illinois threatened species of arrowwood shrub. It is significant because there is very little land protected in west central Illinois. The second site is Lucas Woods Natural Heritage Landmark in Mason County, a 10-acre tract of dry sand savanna in an inventory natural area. The Commission signed up another landowner at this site in 1983.
Mary Kay Solecki has found an innovative way to get more work done collecting prairie seed and protecting prairie remnants. She has enlisted the aid of the Lincoln's Challenge program, which is for high school dropouts from throughout the state who are getting their GED. As part of their work, these students conduct community service. They are helping to restore the prairies of east central Illinois.
Debbie Newman organized and spoke at a dedication ceremony for the Brickey-Gonterman Memorial Hill Prairie Nature Preserve that was dedicated last summer. The dedication ceremony was held at the site on October 4, 1998. Seventy people attended the ceremony and toured the Nature Preserve. Commissioner Pierce spoke, which was greatly appreciated. A landowner in the neighborhood, who owns more of the natural area, attended the ceremony to see what this was all about and is now interested in the Commission's programs.
Bob Edgin negotiated a new Natural Heritage Landmark. Belle Rive Railroad Prairie Natural Heritage Landmark in Jefferson County is a 6-acre dry mesic prairie owned by CSX Transportion of Jacksonville, Florida, another one of the active railroad lines. This site is located in the part of the state with very little prairie, so it is a rare prairie type. Bob is also working with the IDNR and private landowners who are considering a donation to IDNR of a 93-acre wooded natural area located in Clay County in southeastern Illinois. There have been two landowners in the last year that, as a result of ongoing landowner contacts where staff has discussed the different protection options, that have decided to donate property to IDNR. Cecil White Prairie is another property that was donated to IDNR, and Carl Becker will report on this in his report. This is not something that is expected, but every once in awhile someone does decide that is what they want to do.
Don reported that on today's Agenda, IDNR is proposing to register the 9,274-acre Cache River as a Land and Water Reserve. This is by far the largest area of land to be legally protected in the Commission's 35 year history. Judy Faulkner played a key role in this registration. After the decision had been made to register it, the logistics of getting it done seem somewhat overwhelming. Don reported that Judy volunteered to get together the legal description for the IDNR, which meant assembling dozens of deeds. The legal description is 29 pages in length. Judy's long, hard effort on assembling the legal description is greatly appreciated. In addition, Judy continues to work on issues involving natural areas on the Shawnee National Forest.
Randy Heidorn reported that he had four items on which to update the Commission in terms of Stewardship of the Nature Preserves System. Randy reported that we are entering into the second year of the deer management program at Goose Lake Prairie State Park which includes Goose Lake Prairie Nature Preserve. That program includes archery and firearm hunting of antlerless deer to reduce the deer population to the point where the rates of browse to the sensitive prairie species would be reduced to acceptable levels.
Randy stated that there has been a deer management program developed for Castle Rock State Park, which includes George B. Fell Nature Preserve. This program will be implemented in 1999. The program was prepared by IDNR and approved by staff. The program will include a firearm deer hunting program, modeled after the Goose Lake Prairie program basing management decisions on deer impact to vegetation.
A third deer management program is in the process of being approved. Randy stated he has seen the proposal, and it is in very good shape. This program is located at Beall Woods State Park, which includes Beall Woods Nature Preserve. This program is also scheduled to be implemented in 1999.
Randy updated the Commissioners on the special use permit program. We end our permit year on October 1, 1998, and then begin issuing 1999 permits. Barb Ver Steeg has been the person spearheading this project. Over the last two years, we have had a 69% increase in the number of permits that have been requested and issued.
Randy reported that he has been active, along with the Division of Natural Heritage, in seeking funds for a research program to develop a biocontrol agent for garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is an exotic species that invades forested areas. Randy reported that researchers have had one field season in Europe to begin the work. Harriett Hinds, from CABI Bioscience in Belmont, Switzerland was at the Natural Areas Conference to discuss progress made. Ms. Hinds indicated that four candidates of insects have been identified at this point. Other potential insect candidates that could be used to control this exotic will be looked at also. Randy stated that the researchers will have an additional field season to complete this preliminary work, and then the next phase of the project will be the screening of the four candidates to see whether or not these insects will eat other types of plants. It is important to make sure that these agents are very host specific. Illinois has been a big contributor into this effort with $31,000 coming from Illinois. $30,000 came from various State funds, including the Wildlife Preservation Fund, Stewardship monies, the Chicago Wilderness, and Conservation 2000. Private monies were donated from the Native Plant Society. Other states who have been involved include Indiana and Minnesota. Cornell University is coordinating this activity. Approximate cost for the project is $50,000 for the first couple years, and that figure will probably go up to $100,000 in future years. The cost depends on how difficult it is to determine whether or not the species are host specific. It may take 5-6 years before this project will produce agents to be released here in North America.
Lastly, Randy reported that he will be participating later this week in a Regional Ground Water Protection Policy Forum, sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ( IEPA) and the Ground Water Advisory Council. They have asked Randy to give a presentation on the development of Class III ground water designation for natural areas. Nature preserves qualify as Class III ground water, and we have been gathering data with the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois State Geological Survey to put together data so that IEPA can list the waters that contribute to the nature preserves as Class III ground water. This designation gives this ground water a higher level of protection than other ground water.
161-6) IDNR Staff Report
Carl Becker reported that he had a few items to share with the Commission. Since the last meeting, the IDNR has optioned two properties and has received a gift of another natural area for a total of 108 acres.
First of all, the IDNR has optioned a 35-acre addition to Rockton Bog State Natural Area which is near Rockford, Illinois, almost on the State border with Wisconsin. This property contains sedge meadow, prairie, and sand forest. It also contains four endangered or threatened species and is located immediately adjacent to the existing Rockton Bog Nature Preserve. With this tract, the IDNR holding is now 103 acres in size.
The second tract is a 40 acre tract at Chauncey Marsh in Lawrence County. This particular tract is marsh and old field on an old oxbow of the Embarrass River. This acquisition will increase the IDNR holding there to 440 acres. One hundred forty acres of the total property is a dedicated Nature Preserve.
Finally, as stated earlier in Don's presentation, a 33-acre hill prairie in western Illinois was donated to the IDNR by the landowner, and is named Cecil White Prairie. This natural area in Hancock County was owned by Cecil and Eleanor White of Tennessee, Illinois. The property was donated to the IDNR in October. This donation was a direct result of the landowner contact work by Angella Moorehouse.
Carl also reported that as a result of a meeting held last year between a Committee from the Nature Preserves Commission and Director Manning where it was proposed to increase the Stewardship efforts on dedicated nature preserves and natural areas from what was annually $100,000 per year up to $250,000, we were able to add the increase to the Agency's FY '99 budget. The budget add on was approved by the General Assembly. Consequently, the Division proposed and the Director has approved the funding of 47 projects throughout the state. Below is a list of some of the activities: exotic species control, including woody plant control in prairies; forests and savannas; wetland restoration projects; biocontrol, which Randy mentioned earlier; boundary protection; a cave gate on a nature preserve to keep people out of the cave to protect the bat population inside; and erosion control. The work on these projects is done contractually, and we are able to get a lot done in a very efficient way. Carl reported that he wanted to share this with the Commissioners so that they know that their efforts are doing a lot to help the management of natural areas and nature preserves.
Finally, Carl provided an update on the progress of the Teaming With Wildlife initiative. Carl reported that legislation was introduced in Congress on October 7, 1998, in both the House and Senate. The bills are entitled the Conservation Reinvestment Act of 1998. The House Bill is H.R. 4717, and the Senate Bill is S. 2566. Carl distributed a press release to the Commissioners and others. The press release was issued by IDNR and the Director, and it briefly summarizes these proposals. Essentially, the Act dedicates 50% of the outer continental shelf oil revenues to three specific purposes, all of which are of great interest to conservation efforts in Illinois.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there were three titles to these bills.
Carl responded that the first title was creatively called Title I, and it takes 27% of the outer continental shelf oil money and dedicates it to coastal impact assistance. All states that have coastlines, including the Great Lakes states, will receive funds for the purposes of protection and restoration of wetlands and for creation of onshore infrastructure. The amount of funds each state will receive is based on a formula based on how far the state is from the production of oil and how much coastline the state has. The estimate for the State of Illinois is up to 12 million dollars a year, which is significant considering how little shoreline Illinois has. Also, part of the formula is based on population so Illinois will score high there. Funds received by Illinois could be used to feed the beach at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve with sand, which is an ongoing need.
Title II's concept has long been of interest to open space advocates in the State of Illinois and elsewhere in the country. LAWCON has been a source of funding in years past, but in recent years has been unavailable for grants to local units of government to protect open space. This proposal would dedicate 13% of the offshore oil revenues for that purpose, and then allocate the money to the states. The money would be deposited into a dedicated fund, not subject to appropriation. Illinois would receive an estimated 9 million dollars per year under this effort.
Finally, Title III is the Teaming With Wildlife Concept, and it would dedicate 10% of these outer continental shelf oil revenues which would be about 400 million annually nationwide. Based on the formula, Illinois would receive approximately 13.4 million.
Carl reported that people are encouraged to write the Illinois Congressional Delegation to support these bills. These bills will have to be reintroduced in the new Congress, as the current Congress is already pretty much over. He stated that when people write letters of support, they need to reference the old bill numbers, and ask that when they are reintroduced in the next session in Congress, that our Congressman sign on as co-sponsors. These bills not only will have great significance nationwide but will have significant benefit in Illinois for the protection of open space and fish and wildlife habitats.
Chair Ranney stated the introduction of the bills is very good news.
Carl indicated that he brought two sets of the bills with him and offered a copy to anyone who was interested.
Chair Ranney asked whether people should wait until January to write letters.
Carl responded to wait until after the election to know who the Representatives and Senators will be. Carl recommended that letters be sent asking the Congressmen to co-sponsor these bills when they are reintroduced in the new session.
Rita Martin asked if these bills currently numbered H.R. 4717 in the House and S. 2566 in the Senate, will appear with those same numbers in the next session.
Carl responded that they will not have the same number when they are reintroduced, but legislators will know what they are if the old number is referenced.
Rita Martin asked if these appropriations were tied to extending the offshore drilling in Alaska.
Carl responded that they were not. The bills do not extend any more opportunity for oil exploration at all.
161-7) IDNR, Office of Resource Conservation Reorganization
Chair Ranney introduced Kirby Cottrell, Director of IDNR's Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), to discuss a reorganization within that office.
Kirby Cottrell distributed organizational charts to the Commissioners and offered a few extras to those interested in the audience. Kirby thanked Director Grosboll and Chair Ranney for the opportunity to come and talk about what he believes are exciting things that are happening in the Department and within the office of ORC. Kirby stated that the realignment will allow greater opportunities and provide greater service, particularly to IDNR's field staff within the divisions. Kirby reported that there are two things which have been completed. Kirby provided an organizational chart and referred everyone to the right side of the chart first, which lists the Watershed Management/ Wetlands Unit under Debbie Bruce, and the Watershed Unit under Doug Austen. Kirby reported that all of IDNR's databases in the individual divisions have been combined into a single unit at the office level. Kirby stated that it makes perfect sense to put all of the information technology people together who are handling the resource information. IDNR can use the information as a powerful tool, along with the GIS capabilities they have in that particular unit, to provide the kinds of information to field staff which helps them make management decisions they need on the ground. Kirby stated that those were the reasons why a realignment was done. Kirby again stated that it makes perfect sense to have all the database people together. Kirby stated that he feels IDNR will reap rewards from this change. There is opportunity for all to share the expertise among each other. It seems to be a very good fit for providing the kinds of information and providing a unit that would be a very powerful unit with all the information about our resources in this State together in one place. Kirby stated he has also asked this unit to look at how to get compatible with other information sources out there, like the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the University of Illinois, and the Surveys. Kirby stated that Doug Austen has a very good relationship with the Surveys in Champaign, and that staff will be working through Karen Witter's office to come up with a system on how this data can be put together so IDNR can have the kinds of information staff need to do management in the field.
Kirby asked if there were any questions about that side of the organizational chart. Kirby indicated he would like to discuss each change separately. Commissioner Schneiderman asked what difference it makes to the Commission.
Kirby responded that he thinks that this will let IDNR staff have greater access to the kinds of information that they need to perform their function, and that will allow the Commission staff to have the same kind of information. Kirby stated that he believes the Commission staff has some GIS capability at the field level, but that his staff does not have that yet within any of the divisions. Kirby stated that he wants to get GIS capability to the regional level, and then, potentially at the district level. This new unit forms the foundation unit to do that. Commissioner Schneiderman then asked Carolyn Grosboll if this reorganization is good for the Nature Preserves Commission, and if she agreed with it.
Carolyn Grosboll responded that it is important to ensure that the database is updated on a regular basis, and that information is continually provided and fed into the database. She indicated that to be able to share information is a great thing and it really will benefit if that is the case. However, Carolyn stated that she has a concern because a committee was formed about a year ago that looked at combining the databases, and the committee had some concern that the databases were not compatible to be able to share information efficiently without a lot of updating of the equipment. Also, the way the different disciplines collect information is different, and perhaps could not be compatible. Carolyn stated that the concept is a great one, and that the Commission could benefit from the new unit.
Kirby stated that obviously there are some technical issues to work out in terms of the databases being compatible, but he feels the IDNR should get its own databases, particularly within ORC because of its important resources, in a compatible format to be able to use that information wherever it is needed. That is really the impetus behind forming this new unit. In terms of how those individual databases are developed, Kirby stated that he wants to see them continue to be developed by the individual disciplines. IDNR is not changing the protocols or procedures or anything in terms of how the Biological and Conservation Data System (BCD) or the Heritage Database is kept. Kirby stated that the database will be fed by those field managers out there doing their daily job, feeding that information into the database. It will then be the responsibility of this unit, working together, utilizing that information to the best available source or as best as possible. Commissioner Schneiderman asked Carolyn Grosboll if she was consulted when this was being done. Carolyn responded, "no."
Commissioner Fraker stated that on the organizational chart he noticed that the Wildlife Database, Fisheries Database, and GIS Unit have no individual names with them, while the others do. He asked Kirby if that is significant. Kirby responded that it is significant from the standpoint that there are no individuals in those positions at this time. Those positions have been advertised, and should be filled soon.
Commissioner Fraker indicated that he has another hat that he wears occasionally, and that is with The Nature Conservancy. He stated that TNC was the creator of the Heritage Database nationwide as well as in the State of Illinois. He further stated that TNC put the Heritage Database in its basic form in every state, and that TNC takes great pride in its role as it relates to conservation and protection throughout the state. Of course, the database belongs to IDNR to do with as IDNR chooses. Commissioner Fraker further stated that TNC takes great pride in its role as a partner with IDNR, and that he has heard comments from the staff of TNC that there is concern that TNC was not consulted either. Commissioner Fraker again stated that TNC does not claim any proprietary interest in the database, but he would be remiss if he did not express this concern, because whether the concern is expressed as a representative of TNC, or somebody interested in protection in Illinois, he thinks it is important that all of the partners work together toward the protection that everyone is seeking. He stated that there is concern that TNC was not consulted, and also that the database may not continue to operate as effectively as it has. Commissioner Fraker concluded by stating that he realizes that this is a done deal, but he wanted to express his concerns, and also to indicate that one of the main reasons for the concerns is to be sure the database continues to be as effective a tool as it has been in the past.
Kirby responded that putting all of the databases together in one unit will make it that much more effective by having all of those people together. He stated that the protocols for the database, the partnerships developed with the Heritage Database, the memorandum of understanding that we have between IDNR and TNC will continue. He further stated that this reorganization is an opportunity to be able to put everyone together who are dealing with the databases so IDNR can have a more powerful unit in total rather than separately.
Commissioner Nevling stated that while Commissioner Fraker stated that there was no proprietary interest by The Nature Conservancy, in fact there is, because is not that software package proprietary? Kirby responded that he believes it is. Commissioner Nevling stated that it seems to him that IDNR should have consulted with its partners. He asked what is the definition of a partner.
Kirby responded that the database is not changing. He indicated a unit is being put together in terms of having wildlife data, fisheries data, heritage data, all of that information together in one unit to be looked at as a whole. If IDNR is going to do holistic management, ecosystem management, IDNR needs to have its databases built around that. Kirby stated that if there are compatibility problems, security problems, or proprietary problems, he is looking for help as we go.
Commissioner Nevling said that in the case of the Heritage Database, it is a pretty arcane piece of databasing, and he is not sure it will be fully able to mesh with other databases. Speaking from his own experience, he expressed concern of problems arising when the machines are taken farther from the people who interpret the information. He stated that it is important to bring the people who are actually going to do the interpretation into the process. Kirby responded that this is a physical move of people to make the databases work together in terms of having the data in one place. This is the foundation unit that will send the information back to the people for them to make their interpretations of the information.
Kirby stated that the other side of the organizational chart deals with a new unit called Federal Aid/Special Funds Unit. Kirby pointed out that the unit was put together to be a service unit, and again, to give IDNR opportunities. The unit will also provide some leverage to be able to use dollars IDNR has and get more outside dollars, or to use a combination of dollars to increase IDNR's purchasing power. Tim Hickman will head up this unit. Tim has a lot of experience working with grants and proposals. Kirby has asked him to take on a huge challenge in running this unit. IDNR had some internal problems in its Federal Aid Coordination Unit that needed to be addressed. When this was done, it seemed like a good time to take advantage of an opportunity to look at special funds across all of the disciplines in the divisions under ORC. The major purpose is to make sure that IDNR is maximizing its state dollars, and then providing an opportunity to leverage those state dollars for more outside dollars that can be obtained through matching grant programs. One of the charges to Tim's unit is to be a grant go-getter, to go out and look for additional money that will match up to the programs that IDNR has so that the programs will continue or be enhanced. That is really the foundation for that unit. Kirby further reported it also sets up the unit, "that I'm not going to say, if, but when," the TWWOCS money comes to us, then a unit will be able to handle that money immediately and will have some matching funds to be able to work with.
Chair Ranney asked Kirby to explain what TWWOCS means. Kirby responded that this is the Teaming With Wildlife Outer Continental Shelf money that the IDNR has been working on for several years. This is the bill that Carl Becker discussed earlier that has been introduced in Congress.
Kirby concluded by saying that what IDNR really wanted within this unit, was someone who would be able to look across all divisions, look at all the special funds that are in those individual divisions, and be able to say they can match this and match that, enhance IDNR's dollar expenditures, and then to go outside and look for other dollars. IDNR has done a lot of purchasing, if you will, through the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund. There is an opportunity to match that money up where IDNR has bought wetlands with North American Wetlands Conservation Act money. This unit would be the primary unit to do that.
Chair Ranney asked if there were any questions.
Commissioner Fraker asked if it is inconsistent that some special funds have a separate oversight committee, and others do not. He also asked why there is no one listed under the Special Funds Coordinator position on the organizational chart.
Kirby replied that there was no inconsistency. What happens in terms of those special funds that have oversight committees, whether it be the Habitat Fund, the Pheasant Fund, or some other funds within the Agency, there are some oversight committees, if you will, or advisory committees that meet annually and evaluate projects for expenditure of that money. What he wants Tim to do through a process of probably about a year's time, is to get involved with all of those committees, get involved with the protocols and procedures for some of the other expenditures out there in terms of special funds like the Wildlife Preservation Fund or the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund, and come back and make a recommendation about whether or not there even needs to be a Special Funds Coordinator, or what that might look like, or how that position would be utilized to maximize our dollars and then leverage our dollars, very simply.
Commissioner Fraker responded that the reason he asked was because he had the occasion last week to discuss with Director Manning the possibility that this Commission serve as the oversight committee for the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund.
Kirby responded that he had talked to Director Manning about that. He said let Tim do the job that he has been asked to do. Let him get involved in all the committees and come back at this time next year with a recommendation after he has gone through all the committees and makes his recommendations. Let him do his job and see how that falls out. Kirby stated let's let Tim do his job, and let's let the process work.
Commissioner Fraker expressed concern that the die will get cast before the Commission is consulted in that regard which is similar to what happened with the Heritage Database. He indicated he does not want to sound critical or anything, but the Commission cares about what it does and wants to have a role in those issues that effect the INPC.
Kirby responded that this is one reason why he is here today, and why he is willing to come back to the Commission as this process moves along. If the INPC need updates, he can provide updates. Tim Hickman is going to have to get involved particularly in the special funds. The cycle for the Habitat Fund, Duck Stamp Fund, and those kinds of things start the first of November. Projects are due in at the end of this month.
Commissioner Fraker asked if the Pheasant Stamp Fund, for example, has an oversight committee. Kirby responded they have an advisory committee. Commission Fraker asked if the Duck Stamp Fund also has one. Kirby responded that they have one. Kirby went on to say that maybe at some end point, a recommendation of Tim's will be to change that. He said to let this process work, and then we will see. We need to keep you involved, and we will keep you involved. We have to keep all the constituents involved in all of these fund committees. There is a legislative mandate about those funds as well, and Tim has to look at that as well as he goes down the road. Kirby stated let's see where we can maximize dollars. Let's see where we can provide some opportunity, particularly for my staff out in the field, to get more dollars to be able to do better things. Commissioner Schneiderman asked if Kirby would give a report at each of the Commission's meetings until this is done. Kirby replied, "certainly."
Commissioner Schneiderman said that the Commission is puzzled as to why the Department went ahead and did something that is important to Nature Preserves and to the work of this Commission without ever once consulting with either INPC's Commissioners or its staff. It would not have been a hard thing to do. It would have been a very easy thing to do, and you might well have ignored whatever the Commission had to say. The Commission has a deep concern and are asking for consultation. Commissioner Schneiderman stated that given the history of this, perhaps the Commission can get Kirby to agree to attend each of our meetings, either Kirby, or Tim, or somebody at each meeting and be available to answer questions as to what is going on.
Kirby responded that he would be more than happy to do that. He went on to say that the reason the box is dotted under the Special Funds Coordinator and that there is no name in it is because they do not know what that is at this point in time. Involving the constituency will be the right thing to do, all the constituents for all of the special funds in terms of how to maximize those dollars, and how to leverage those dollars in other programs that we know are out there but have never had anybody sitting down actually looking at those opportunities for IDNR.
Commissioner Nevling asked if when Kirby was speaking of leveraging, was he looking to go outside to some new source that we have not been able to tap into previously. Kirby responded, "that is correct."
Commissioner Nevling stated that in order to identify those sources and go after them, it takes a little bit of time. He stated that there was about $1,200,000 or something in an additional appropriation this year. Will that be spent for land acquisition? Kirby responded, "oh yes, it will be spent for land acquisition." He stated that IDNR is not looking at the land acquisition process for this fiscal year. We are talking about the future. In terms of the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund, in terms of that part of it, there is a list already developed for this year. Carl has developed that. In FY '99 we are moving forward with that list.
Tim Hickman stated that one example that might be helpful is to look back in the past year or so at what has occurred in the Pheasant Fund, Duck Stamp Fund, and Habitat Fund in relation to his role as the Special Funds Coordinator and Deputy Chief in the Division of Wildlife. Each of those committees had their own chairpersons; they had their own advisory groups, but there may have been a proposal in one committee where there was a land acquisition proposed. It was a good acquisition, but that committee did not have enough money. It was up to Tim, perhaps, to go and grab up the other chairpersons and talk to them about maybe combining efforts, satisfying the committees' needs in both cases, and still being able to acquire that property and meet the objectives of both committees. No one committee could have done that independently, so there was a necessary coordination. That is the kind of thing that could occur with other funds as well. When there are opportunities with joint projects, having someone to look at those different activities will help facilitate those partnerships.
Commissioner Nevling stated that he did not think anyone would call that leveraging. That is putting together, but that is not leveraging and getting new funds. When you are doing that, it is important to be very careful about the whole question of commingling of funds when those funds are laid out for particular purposes by the Legislature.
Tim agreed and responded that in each of those cases, the statutory mandate for both funds were met. He said there may not be a 90% commingling; it might be a 4%, a 1%, or 2%. That is not yet known. That is exactly why there is a need for someone to take a look at that and make sure it is legal.
Carolyn Grosboll asked Tim how much money is in those other funds. She stated that the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund is usually around five to six million or something like that annually. She asked what type of money do those other funds have?
Tim responded that the Habitat Fund has receipts of about a million and a half every year. Thirty percent, or $500,000, whichever is greater, automatically goes to the Pheasant Fund, as required by statute. One hundred thousand goes to the Furbearer Fund. The Duck Stamp Fund collects about $600,000 a year. Half of what the Habitat Fund retains goes to an endowment fund, which once it reaches a corpus of ten million dollars, and it is about half way there, the proceeds of that will be put back into projects. Probably within three years, IDNR will have an additional $200,000 - $300,000 a year for projects.
Carolyn asked Tim how he will be reviewing the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund. She noted that the other funds have advisory committees with their own procedures, but that the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund has no advisory committee to work with.
Tim responded that he would sit down with Carl Becker and Don McFall, and others that are involved with data, to see what involvement they can start up and coordinate. He stated that the idea of oversight may be a misnomer at this point. It is more just an understanding at the office level to see if they can help facilitate what the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund might be trying to do. Tim indicated that his staff has done a lot of contract management. There might be some service needs that they can help out on Natural Areas.
Chair Ranney asked if there were any other questions from the Commission.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he did not know if everyone else shared his anxiety about this, but that he would sure like to hear a fairly detailed report at each meeting as to what is going on with the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund and how this new unit is being administered. He stated he has nothing against the other special funds, but they have a nice, neat organizational system which has been consulted. He stated that he does not feel that the constituents of the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund have been consulted.
Kirby stated that in terms of those other special fund committee members, those advisory committee members have not been consulted either. Commissioner Schneiderman stated " I do not know how that makes me feel."
Kirby reiterated that he will be more than happy to attend future meetings and again stated that this is all based on trying to find opportunity to leverage dollars, if you will. He indicated he will look at this as a business, as a manager, in terms that he has all of these special funds, and that he has all these people out there working, clambering for more dollars. He needs to provide more for them so they can get their job done.
Chair Ranney stated that the deep concern here comes from the fact that the Commission is charged by the legislation that set up the Nature Preserves Commission, the Natural Areas Preservation Act itself, to promote the protection of natural areas in this state. This includes not only those that are already nature preserves, but also those that are not dedicated nature preserves yet. That is the key thing. The Natural Areas Acquisition Fund is needed to do the job. She stated that the Commission is charged with overseeing this and wants Kirby to keep that in mind as he moves ahead. She expressed her appreciation to Kirby, Tim, and Jim for attending the meeting and for laying it out, as well as for their offer to provide updates with what is going on.
Commissioner Burton presented the following resolution for the Commission's consideration.
It was moved by Burton, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
In accordance with the statutory duties of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to protect, manage, and provide advice on the State's highest quality natural areas and habitats of threatened and endangered species, either dedicated or undedicated, the Commission would accept the opportunity to serve as a committee to advise and make recommendations to the Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on the administration of the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund.
Commissioner Schneiderman said that the problem with the motion is that it assumes that the Commission does not have some actual power in this area. In his opinion, it speaks from a position of some weakness, and the Commission may be able to speak from a position of more strength. It is the word "accept" that is bothersome to him. He would prefer a word that is some synonym of grab, but it is fine, and he voted for the motion as proposed.
11:30 - A spontaneous break was taken. 11:52 meeting resumes.
161-8) Johnson and Pulaski Co. - Cache River Land and Water Reserve Registration
Carolyn noted that Judy put a lot of work into this effort, and the front page of the Land and Water Reserve proposal will be changed to reflect Judy's effort. It was an error not to have Judy on the cover page.
Judy Faulkner and Mark Guetersloh presented a proposal for the registration of the Cache River Land and Water Reserve. The proposed reserve includes 9,274.89 acres in Johnson and Pulaski counties that are within the watershed of the Cache River in extreme southern Illinois. The land to be included is present within the 11,768-acre Cache River State Natural Area which is owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The areas excluded from the Reserve are the Cache River headquarters (40 acres), Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Nature Preserve (1,939 acres), Section 8 Woods Nature Preserve (326.8 acres), the proposed Cache River visitor center (95.1 acres), and the Cache River-Tunnel Hill State Trail (92.21 acres). The communities along the Cache River that are within the proposed Reserve are: pond, wet floodplain forest, mesic and dry-mesic upland forest, limestone glade, and sandstone cliff. Over 20 unique plant communities are found within the Cache River basin, as well as a large number of rare plant and animal species. The wetlands along the Cache River have been recognized as "Wetlands of International Importance", placing them with such well known sites as the Florida Everglades and the Okefenokee Swamp.
Judy recognized people who have worked on this project over the last 20 years. Judy noted that many people have spent their careers trying to accomplish what we are finishing up today here. There is only one person whose whole career was primarily devoted to this area, and that is Max Hutchison. John Schwegman did a lot of work on this area as well. Judy highlighted some of the people and the events from her personal perspective that have led to the protection of this area.. Before Judy was employed by the Commission, she was active with the Audubon Society, and this was a project that the Southern Illinois Audubon Society was working on and trying to work with the then Illinois Department of Conservation (IDOC) to help make this happen. People like Andy West, who currently works for the IDNR, Office of Land Management, was working hard on protecting this area. The Citizens Committee to Save the Cache River was formed. The person locally in the area, and who probably knows more about the area on the ground than anyone else, is Henry Barkhausen. Henry has been very instrumental in helping push things ahead and getting money to make this all happen. The Citizens Committee to Save the Cache was a driving force that pushed the IDOC to keep working to protect this area. Neil Needham was also an important person. In 1980, at a Commission meeting at Giant City State Park, Andy West came, and Judy assisted him in giving an impassioned plea to the Commission to urge the IDOC to condemn a particular landowner who was cutting down thousand year old trees on the lower Cache. The Commission voted that they would do whatever it took to stop the trees from being cut down. The trees were saved because of the work of the Commission in conjunction with the Department. In the early 1980's, Judy remembers working with Ralph Burnnett of The Nature Conservancy, who was probably, single-handedly responsible for purchasing most of the tracts that are being protected today.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked either Mark or Judy why this property is being presented as a land and water reserve registration instead of a full nature preserve protection for this area.
Judy responded that historically the people who have been behind preserving the Cache, the Citizens Committee to Save the Cache, and the local people, find the Cache to be a great fishing resource for them. Fishing is not allowed in a nature preserve. The registration is an effort of the partners and something that all of the partners can agree to. Judy stated that several parcels have been dedicated in the area, and some are large, almost 2,000 acres at Heron Pond-Little Black Slough. There may be a tract in the future that may be dedicated, but in order to continue to have the support of so many different players, this is the route that was decided upon. Registration will protect the area almost like a nature preserve. Land and water reserve status confers protection in perpetuity.
Carolyn added that the registration also insures the area will be managed for its natural resources, and that is significant.
Commissioner Fraker asked Judy if she had the legal descriptions for all 9,000 plus acres.
Judy responded that she had to go through each tract, and mark it on the map to make sure there were no missing pieces. Then she tried to see if there were pieces, like whole sections, that could be combined. Unfortunately, it turned out that there were not any after all that effort. The legals basically ended up being strung together in some kind of logical order. It is all documented now. The map with all the parcels could be referred to in the future if needed.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of the Cache River in Johnson and Pulaski counties, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 8 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
Chair Ranney reported this is the largest land and water reserve ever to have been designated in Illinois. She commended all for their efforts to protect this area.
161-9) Johnson and Union Co. - Cypress Pond Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Bob Lindsay presented a proposal for the registration of Cypress Pond as a land and water reserve. This proposed reserve consists of 310.7 acres in Johnson and Union counties within the Coastal Plain Natural Division. The site contains a swamp community, consisting of tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Virginia willow (Itea virginica), and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), and is known to contain one of the largest and the northernmost stands of cypress-tupelo in Illinois. In addition to the swamp, the site also contains wet floodplain forest comprised of pin oak (Quercus palustris), swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), kingnut hickory (Carya laciniosa), and sweet gum (Liquidamber styraciflua). The site was identified by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #62) as a high quality cypress-tupelo swamp. The site is owned and managed as a satellite of Ferne Clyffe State Park by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked when the State acquired this piece of real estate. Bob Lindsay responded that it was acquired within the last ten years. Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there was other land in this vicinity which has a potential for acquisition. Bob Lindsay stated that there is, and that someone is working on that.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution by adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Cypress Pond in Johnson and Union counties, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 9 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-10) McHenry Co. - Knox Farm Addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Steven Byers presented a proposal for registration of the Knox Farm Addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve. This proposed addition is a 1.26-acre tract, owned by Albert Enterprises, Inc. Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve is a 26.4-acre mosaic of graminoid fen, sedge meadow, and uplands located within the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division of Illinois and was granted approval for registration as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission at its 158th Meeting in February, 1998 (Resolution #1397). Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve is owned in part by the City of McHenry (17.8 acres) and McHenry County (8.6 acres). Two state-threatened plant species have been recorded on the site, the early fen sedge (Carex crawei) and the common yellow lake sedge (Carex rostrata var. utriculata). The INPC staff recommends that the 1.26 acres identified in the proposal for registration be granted approval as an addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve.
Steven reported Smith Engineering Consultants are signatories to the Management Plan and have agreed to be responsible for the management of the site for the first three years, and then INPC staff will be working with the Homeowners Association which will serve as a single point of contact for this particular site. That would preclude the need for six different management plans, working with six different individuals with regard to management. In all fairness, after the first three years, this site will most likely be managed in coordination with the City of McHenry who manages the nearby Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve. The management concerns include restoration of prairie, signage, and fencing to identify the site, and to make sure the owners recognize the boundaries and abide by the agreements that have been reached between Albert Enterprises, Smith Engineering Consultants, INPC, and IDNR.
Carolyn Grosboll added that it is important to note that this is the first time that the Commission will be voting on an addition to a land and water reserve. The Commission often has nature preserve additions, but this is the first time INPC will be voting on an addition to a land and water reserve.
Steven added that this site in and of itself would not merit consideration by the Commission, but because of its location adjacent to Wheeler Fen, it is worthy of the Commission's consideration. In fact, it will be referred to as the Knox Farm Addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Knox Farm in McHenry County, as an addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-11) St. Clair Co. - DesPain Wetlands Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for the registration of DesPain Wetlands as a Land and Water Reserve. DesPain Wetlands is a 164.5-acre parcel consisting of 50 acres of reconstructed wetlands, surrounded by reconstructed prairie, reforested flatwoods, bottomland and upland woods, and remnant forest. The wetlands, while fairly new, already support large numbers of migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, and have been used regularly during the breeding season for foraging by state-endangered waders such as the little blue heron (Egretta caerulea) and snowy egret (Egretta thula) . The state-threatened pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) has been documented nesting at the site. A variety of herpetofauna have also already been documented using the site. The DesPain property is adjacent to the 2,000-acre Peabody River King State Fish and Wildlife Area, and is 2/3 of a mile south of the 18,000-acre Kaskaskia River State Fish and Wildlife Area. The owners, Douglas and Rebecca DesPain and David and Susan DesPain, are proposing registration as a site of unusual concentrations of wildlife.
Debbie reported that Commissioner Pierce was able to visit the site; however, he was unable to attend this Commission meeting. She quoted what he had said about the site. He told her that this was exactly the type of land that INPC's land and water reserve program was established for back in 1995. He was very excited about the opportunity to put this property into the program.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he was feeling a little bit out on the frontier here, and that he wanted Carolyn to reassure him that INPC is not going out on a limb. He stated that the Commission is putting into its program, under the statute, something which is, at least on the face of it, entirely artificial, something that is invented. He realizes the word reconstructed is used in here, but there is something that he feels uncomfortable about.
Carolyn Grosboll responded that INPC's statute provides that the Commission is to protect habitats for endangered and threatened species. The fact that endangered and threatened species are using the site justifies why it would qualify for the register program.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there was anything in the statute about requiring the area to be a natural area. He stated that whatever this is, it is not a natural area.
Carolyn responded that the statute talks about habitats for endangered and threatened species, as well as natural areas. They are not necessarily combined together.
Commissioner Schneiderman said that if there is some finding or something that the Commission needs to say when they approve this registration which tucks it in a little more firmly, they ought to say it or do it. He said he could see somebody wondering what is going on there.
Don McFall stated that in the case of 80-90% of the nature preserves and land and water reserves, it is the natural community that is being protected and restored, but for that other percentage, INPC goes where the endangered species go, and sometimes they are highly damaged areas. For example, Baker's Lake is highly artificial. The fact that the little blue heron uses this site and there is the only one population in the state, is very significant. It is unusual to protect these types of areas, but not unprecedented.
Debbie Newman added that the wetlands in the metro East St. Louis area are disappearing at a rapid rate, and everyone in this room knows that reconstructed wetlands cannot take the place of natural, fully functional wetlands, but they can, over time, replace a bit of the value. This is an individual trying to add something back to the landscape where a lot has been destroyed. The water control capabilities will keep the wetland artificial always, but the communities of the wetlands will eventually revert to a large degree. This was a former wetland site, according to the National Wetland Inventory Maps. It was not a shrub swamp or a marsh site, but it was an ephemeral wetland site according to the National Wetland Inventory Maps.
Commissioner Burton noted that the Commission had protected prairie restorations in the past, which would be similar to what is being done here.
Carolyn added that protecting these types of areas was clearly something different from what the Commission usually does, but the fact that the endangered species are there warrants its protection.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of DesPain Wetlands in St. Clair County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-12) Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, Steven Byers presented a proposal for the dedication of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. The proposed addition is approximately 5.1 acres (54 lots) and is located within the designated boundary of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #400) for Gensburg-Markham Prairie as well as the boundary established for Gensburg-Markham Prairie National Natural Landmark. A preservation strategy for this site was first articulated in a Master Plan approved by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission at its 95th Meeting in August, 1983 (Resolution #75), which called for protection of the prairie extending north and south of Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve is part of an archipelago of four prairies that are collectively referred to as the Indian Boundary Prairies, surviving remnants of the vast prairie that once extended for miles along Lake Michigan and the Lake Plain Section of old Lake Chicago. Both the INPC staff and The Nature Conservancy recommended that the 5.1 acres identified in the proposal for dedication be granted preliminary approval for dedication as an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve.
Steven recognized Tim Tear, the Director of Conservation Science with TNC.
Tim related that Jeff Powers of TNC could not attend the Commission meeting, but he was really pleased to be in attenance. This was his first meeting of the Nature Preserves Commission. Tim stated that The Nature Conservancy is very concerned and places a great value on the partnerships it builds in conservation, particularly at this prairie where there has been a long-standing relationship with the INPC, as well as Northeastern Illinois University, Natural Land Institute, and the Army Corps of Engineers. This is a really good example of how communication, working together, and good partnerships can lead to the effective conservation of an important area like this. He noted that on behalf of TNC, he hopes that the sort of relationship that TNC has with the INPC continues, particularly on areas at Indian Boundary Prairies, because it is these sorts of cooperative partnerships that enables us to be able to preserve the important resources that Illinois has to offer.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-13) Cook Co. - Addition to Proposed Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, Steven Byers presented a proposal for the dedication of an addition to the proposed Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve. Approximately 60 acres of Paintbrush Prairie was conferred preliminary approval by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission at its145th Meeting in October, 1994 (Resolution #1248). At the Commission's 148th Meeting in August, 1995 (Resolution #1281), the Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of a key 8-acre addition. Neither tract, however, has been conferred final approval for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve. This proposal provides for preliminary approval to dedicate an additional 10.1 acres. Paintbrush Prairie is one of four prairies located in the City of Markham, Illinois that are collectively referred to as the Indian Boundary Prairies. The other prairies are Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Sundrop Prairie, and Dropseed Prairie. Aside from the collective importance of this archipelago of prairies, Paintbrush Prairie supports over 200 plant species, including the state-listed eared false foxglove (Tomanthera auriculata). The early fen sedge (Carex crawei), which also occurs at Paintbrush Prairie, was recently removed from the list of threatened and endangered animals and plants of Illinois. Both the INPC staff and The Nature Conservancy recommended that the 10.1 acres identified in the proposal for dedication be granted preliminary approval for dedication as an addition to Paintbrush Prairie.
Commissioner Ellis asked if there were any additional lands to be acquired at this site.
Steven responded that there are approximately 2.1 or 3.1 acres still in private ownership, but that TNC is working to acquire those tracts.
Commissioner Schneiderman noted that the Commission has been approving preliminary dedications at this site for a long time, and none have final approval. He asked Steven if he was going to come back in February so the Commission can finally dedicate the whole group of them.
Steven responded that yes, that is the idea. He said he would not have prepared this proposal for the Commission's consideration without some expectation. Based upon his conversations with Michael Reuter and Bruce Boyd of TNC, Steven will have a document of dedication ready for the Commission's consideration at the next meeting of the INPC.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked how old is the oldest of these preliminary dedications.
Steven responded that the first one was conferred preliminary approval for dedication in 1994, an addition was conferred preliminary approval in 1995, and now three years later, he is asking for the Commission's consideration for preliminary approval of an additional 10.1 acres.
Carolyn Grosboll added that if a long period of time has gone by between preliminary and final approval, staff will consider a reiteration of preliminary approval, but generally, this issue is taken on a case by case basis. If something has happened at a particular site to make staff rethink its qualifications for nature preserve status, that is generally the determining factor. If it looks as though the property increased in its natural area significance, then staff will go ahead and proceed with final approval even with a time lapse.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there was a statutory reason for the Commission at this meeting to renew or reaffirm those other preliminary dedications at this meeting so at the February meeting they are not faced with a stale preliminary dedication.
Carolyn responded that there is no time limit or expiration of preliminary approvals.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to the proposed Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-14) Henry Co. - Mineral Marsh Nature Preserve, Dedication
Anne Mankowski presented a proposal for the dedication of Mineral Marsh as a nature preserve. This 230-acre natural area in Henry County, within the Green River Lowlands, is owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The site contains sand prairie and semi-permanent ponds that are surrounded by marsh and wet sand prairie. The site was recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1103) as a category II site because of the presence of endangered species, including one of the largest populations of the Illinois mud turtle (Kinosternon flavescens) in the Midwest. The site contains dry/dry mesic sand prairie, dry sand savanna, and wet sand prairie and marsh communities.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Mineral Marsh Nature Preserve in Henry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-15) Madison Co. - Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary Addition of Buffer to John M. Olin Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman introduced Wayne Freeman, the Executive Director of Great Rivers Land Trust (GRLT), located in the Alton area. On behalf of Great Rivers Land Trust and The Nature Institute, Mr. Freeman presented a proposal for the dedication of Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary as an addition of buffer to the John M. Olin Nature Preserve. This 42.38-acre site is a key parcel in the watershed of one of Olin's primary streams. The site was donated to GRLT by Tom Hutchinson in honor of his parents, Kemp and Cora. GRLT is placing a conservation easement on the property, and will eventually gift the land to The Nature Institute, who are the owners of Olin Nature Preserve. A complex of adjoining lands in the area, including Olin Nature Preserve (292.7 acres), Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve (42 acres) and Oblate Fathers' Woods Nature Preserve (16 acres) comprise a total of 350.7 acres. This addition will increase the amount of contiguous preserved land to 393 acres. The preservation of the parcel, which is currently part forested and part agriculture, will prevent further residential development encroachment on the established bald eagle winter roost (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) on the Olin Preserve. It will also preserve habitat for the state-threatened timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), which has been observed multiple times less than 300 feet from the border of the Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary parcel.
Debbie Newman stated that this is a key parcel in protecting the Olin Nature Preserve. Debbie reiterated that there are three nature preserves that are all contiguous to each other in this area. There are encroaching subdivisions all the way around the area, and the GRLT, and The Nature Institute, Debbie, and the IDNR Natural Heritage Division staff believe that in the next ten years all of the land in the area will either be developed or protected, and there will be no other options left.
Commissioner Burton stated that during her involvement with the Nature Institute for five years, there was initially a very long-standing resistance to dedication or any other type of protection of this property. It is her hope that this is the beginning of something that will add a lot more acreage to that three-piece parcel. She congratulated Mr. Freeman because he was able to get this done.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked Mr. Freeman what the GRLT is .
Mr. Freeman responded that they are a not-for-profit Section 501-(C)3 charitable land trust. The organization protects lands via scenic and conservation easement, as well as through land acquisition. He noted that he is a big proponent of the layering of protection of land. He indicated that they do that through their land stewardship program, as well as by working with organizations like The Nature Institute. The land trust buys property, then deeds it to The Nature Institute after putting a conservation easement on it. Dedication provides a third tier of protection. The more layering of protection on land, the better.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of the Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary Addition of Buffer to John M. Olin Nature Preserve in Madison County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-16) Marshall Co. - Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dedication
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve is an approximately 1.26-acre tract within the 78-acre Hopewell Estates Hill Prairies Natural Area (INAI #231). Owned by Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, this nature preserve is located along the Illinois River bluffs about 18 miles northeast of Peoria in Marshall County in the Village of Hopewell. Ms. Yang proposes to dedicate approximately 0.74 acres on an adjacent lot (#116), of which she is the sole owner, as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve (lot #117). The rare Schreber's aster (Aster schreberi) has been found in the woodlands of the proposed preserve addition, and Grade A glacial drift hill prairie openings containing several conservative plant species including lead plant (Amorpha canadensis) and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) occur here. Prairie openings on the site have greatly improved as a result of recent restoration management by Mr. Brucker and Ms. Yang. A Wildlife Preservation Fund grant of $1,000.00 is being used to conduct a professional botanical survey on the dedicated nature preserve and proposed addition, the results of which will help to guide further management. The staff of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission recommended preliminary approval of the 0.74-acre tract on lot #116 as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve in Marshall County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
Chair Ranney stated that the Commission is very proud of the nature preserves that are owned by private citizens who see the importance of these areas, and not only dedicate them, but work on their management, and work on their neighbors, and it is a wonderful thing to see this movement growing. She expressed her appreciation to Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang.
161-17) Pike Co. - Twin Culvert Cave Nature Preserve, Dedication
Angella Moorehouse presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Twin Culvert Cave as a nature preserve. Twin Culvert Cave consists of a 5-acre tract owned by The Nature Conservancy which includes the entrance and a portion of the passageway of a Grade A limestone solution cavern. At the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission's 37th Meeting (Resolution #184), "approval for dedication in principal" was granted for Twin Culvert Cave. Preliminary approval for dedication of the site was granted at the Commission's 53rd Meeting (Resolution #357). Twin Culvert Cave is unique in its developmental process and contains exceptional cave features. The cave serves as a migratory resting place for the federally-endangered gray bat (Myotis grisescens). A subterranean lagoon and other spring fed water sources within the cave provide habitat for rare and outstanding cave invertebrates such as a cave dwelling amphipod (Bactrurus brachycaudus), a rare Illinois endemic millipede (Erodesmus remingtoni), cave millipede (Tingupa pallida), and an undescribed dipluran insect (Eumesocampa sp.). Dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve will help preserve the cavern for use by rare and endangered fauna and will result in the establishment of the first nature preserve within the Driftless Section of the Middle Mississippi Border Natural Division of Illinois.
Angella Moorehouse acknowledged those who helped with this project. Vern LaGesse, with TNC, and Dean Corgiat and Joe Kath with IDNR's Division of Natural Heritage. Angella stated that Joe coordinates all of the bat surveys for the State. Another person who helped was Steve Taylor with the Natural History Survey who is a spelunker by hobby, and he is a cave invertebrate specialist. Dave Mahone, a spelunker, was also helpful in the protection of this cave. Dave constructed the fence on top of the cave. He also constructed the fence for Burton Cave Nature Preserve in Adams County.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked the reason for the 24-year delay.
Angella responded that it might have been a change of administration, and someone may have just dropped the ball.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there is a way for organizations like TNC, perhaps particularly TNC, to look and see if it has got anything or any others of these orphaned preliminary dedications out there.
Carolyn Grosboll responded that there are currently a dozen or more areas that for one reason or another the landowner has not gone forward for final approval.
Commissioner Schneiderman wanted to know that as a routine matter if Commission staff follows up on them.
Carolyn responded yes, the staff does follow-up on those.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Twin Culvert Cave Nature Preserve in Pike County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-18) Vermilion Co. - Jordan Creek of the North Fork Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Outdoor Heritage Foundation, Mary Kay Solecki presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Jordan Creek of the North Fork as a nature preserve. The site is located about 15 miles north of Danville in the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. The proposed preserve is a 0.97-mile long segment of Jordan Creek and a 200-foot wide strip on either side of the centerline of the creek, totaling about 46.8 acres. An additional 231.7 acres of former pasture and forest is proposed as buffer. Jordan Creek is recognized as an outstanding example of the streams of the Wabash-Ohio River watershed. Five state-endangered mussels occur in the creek at this site. These are the slippershell (Alasmidonta viridis), wavy-rayed lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola), purple lilliput (Toxolasma lividus), rainbow (Villosa iris), and little spectaclecase (Villosa lienosa). In addition, the state-endangered red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) and northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) have been observed in the proposed preserve.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of the Jordan Creek of the North Fork Nature Preserve in Vermilion County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 18 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-19) Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 12)
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission conferred preliminary approval for the dedication of eight additional lots (approximately 0.67 acres) as an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve at its 160th Meeting on August 4, 1998 (Resolution #1430). The Natural Land Institute seeks final approval for dedication of these eight additional lots. The additions are located within the designated boundary of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #400) for Gensburg-Markham Prairie as well as the boundary established for the Gensburg-Markham Prairie National Natural Landmark. A preservation strategy for this site was first articulated in a Master Plan approved by the Commission at its 95th Meeting in August, 1983 (Resolution #75), which called for protection of the prairie extending north and south of Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve. Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve is part of an archipelago of four prairies that are collectively referred to as the Indian Boundary Prairies, surviving remnants of the vast prairie that once extended for miles along Lake Michigan and the Lake Plain Section of old Lake Chicago. The INPC staff recommended that the 0.67 acres identified in the Instrument of Dedication be granted final approval for dedication as an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-20) McHenry Co. - Wilson Tract Addition of Buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of the Wilson Tract Addition as buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of 31.47 acres as buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve at its 160th Meeting on August 4, 1998 (Resolution #1432). This 31.47-acre parcel was purchased by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in January, 1998 with funding from the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund and CorLands. Pistakee Bog received final approval for dedication at the Commission's 55th Meeting in April, 1975 (Resolution #378). This buffer serves as an important recharge zone for Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. Remnant marsh, sedge meadow, and mesic prairie communities on the Wilson tract are hydrologically connected to the Pistakee basin via a wide band of hydric soils. Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve contains high-quality tamarack bog, marsh, pond, sedge meadow, and calcareous floating mat communities. Both Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve and nearby Volo Bog Nature Preserve are located in the Volo Bog State Natural Area. Both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and INPC staff recommended final approval of this 31.47-acre parcel as buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of the Wilson Tract Addition of Buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 20 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-21) Will Co. - Hitts Siding Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Michael Redmer presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Hitts Siding Prairie as a nature preserve. Hitts Siding Prairie is owned and managed by Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The site is 261.3 acres in size and contains high quality examples of mesic/wet mesic prairie, wet prairie, mesic sand prairie, marsh, mesic sand savanna, and sedge meadow. Fifty-seven acres of this site were recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1047) as a natural area of statewide significance. Four state-listed species are present on this site, including the rattlesnake-master borer moth (Papaipema eryngii), grass pink orchid (Calopogon tuberous), ear-leafed foxglove (Tomanthera auriculata), and the red-veined prairie leafhopper (Aflexia rubranura). The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 157th Meeting on October 28, 1997 (Resolution # 1385).
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Hitts Siding Prairie Nature Preserve in Will County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 21 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-22) Cook Co. - Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve - Request to Delegate Authority to Deputy Director for Stewardship to Review and Approve Proposal to Re-contour Landscape
Steven Byers presented a proposal to delegate authority to the Deputy Director for Stewardship to review and approve a proposal to re-contour landscape at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve. Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve was conferred final approval for dedication at the Commission's 112th and 116th Meetings in recognition of extant high-quality graminoid fen, sedge meadow, and calcareous seep wetland communities. The boundary of this preserve, as presented in the proposal for dedication, encompassed two gravel pit lakes. Subsequently, re-contouring occurred in 1990 that included pushing an earthen berm and overburden into one of the gravel pit lakes. In addition, prairie sod was transplanted to Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve shortly after with a special permit issued by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to do so. At INPC's 151st Meeting in May, 1996, the Commission adopted a resolution stating that "...the Commission set policy on management, approving management in general terms, especially the first few times an activity is done, and then the staff would apply that (policy) to other sites" (Resolution #1318). Given that re-contouring, or extensive earth moving activities, has occurred only very infrequently in nature preserves and given the guidance provided in the above-referenced resolution regarding approved management activities, the Commission staff requested that the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission delegate authority to the Deputy Director for Stewardship to review and approve additional earthmoving activities at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve.
Randy Heidorn explained that a similar kind of activity was done in the early 1990's. According to Brian Anderson, former Director of the Commission, this earlier approval was given following discussions with Commissioners over the telephone; therefore, there was never anything in the public record relative to conducting these activities. Given the way the earlier approval was given, he stated he thought it was prudent to bring this issue before the Commission for approval on the project, and make sure that there is something in the public record describing approval for this activity. This type of activity requires Commission approval even under even normal conditions.
Steven referred to a resolution passed by the Commission in 1996, stating that the Commission sets policy on management, approving management in general terms, especially the first few times an activity is done, then the staff would apply that policy to other sites. Given the fact that earth moving is not a common occurrence at nature preserves, it was felt at this point that it was important to seek approval from the Commission and to delegate that authority to the Deputy Director for Stewardship.
Commissioner Schneiderman said that he does not think that is any way to do business. He indicated he will vote to approve it, but he does not think the staff should take this approval as a reason or a basis for taking similar action in the future. He stated that if this is what the Commission wants to do, then a rule should be adopted through the proper rule making process which sets up that kind of authority.
Randy said that staff are looking for approval specifically for this site and this project only.
Commissioner Schneiderman said that is what should be granted.
Commissioner Fraker asked who was going to do the earth moving if it is done.
Steven reported that he has been working closely with TNC, and he has every expectation that support will be provided from Caterpillar. Steven indicated that additional funding has been received and has been earmarked specifically for this project. Steven pointed out that the nuts and the bolts of this will continue to be conducted by the Friends of the Fen. Representatives of Friends of the Fen or Steven will be present on site when these earth moving activities are scheduled and implemented.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the request to delegate authority to the Deputy Director for Stewardship to review and approve the proposal to re-contour the landscape at Bluff Spring Fen in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 22 of the Agenda for the 161st Meeting.
161-23) Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve, Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Randy Heidorn provided an update on asbestos investigation and remediation at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve. Randy reported that the larger project of investigating the source asbestos containing material (ACM) on beaches and properties adjacent to Johns Manville continues. Randy continues to work with the Federal and State agencies that are involved in that investigation. In regards to the IDNR property and the Nature Preserves proper, the IDNR has hired permanent staff to routinely check the beaches for ACM and to pick it up. Up until now, those beach sweeps were conducted by a contractor through the State of Illinois' Capitol Development Board. The approach of using staff people and training them appropriately to handle hazardous material is a great economy to the Department. That is the approach that they are taking now.
As far as the road with the ACM located in the south end of the preserve, staff are waiting for a prescribed burn to be conducted by the Division of Natural Heritage at the site. That could happen any day, or staff may have to wait until spring, depending on the weather. Once that occurs, contractual crews will locate exposed ACM and hand remove it.
Finally, Randy reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a local citizens advisory committee for the inner Waukegan Harbor clean up and dredging are looking at potential sites to place dredge spoil from that operation. This spoil is known to be contaminated with low levels of PCB. They are looking at the Johns Manville site as a potential disposal site. There are still a lot of questions that will need to be answered as to the impacts of such activity on the hydrology of the preserves and possible contamination. The problem is that the other options being considered deal with either in lake disposal or trucking the material off site. There are a lot of issues that the various agencies involved are going to have to discuss before occurs. Randy said he will continue to keep the Commission involved.
161-24) Johnson Co. - Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Nature Preserve, Update on Erosion Control
Randy Heidorn reported that he has great news. The project is done. He distributed pictures of the placement of the gabions for the erosion control. Randy reported that the new system has been functioning as planned.
Randy asked the Commission if this item could be removed from future meeting Agendas.
Commissioner Fraker expressed appreciation to IDNR and others involved for the quick action that was taken to remedy this most dire situation. He stated that it was really a significant piece of salvation work that was done, and it was terrific that it was done with the efficiency that it was.
All agreed that quarterly updates on this topic were no longer necessary.
161-25) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Dave Monk, ERES, stated that the spirit of Bob Evers is here today because he could remember sitting with him one day. They had just come back from southern Illinois, and he had gone to see this forest. He was a consultant to the Commission for some time.
Mr. Goodman gave an update on the lawsuit involving Lyman Woods and the consultation process. The appeal briefs have all been filed, and he wanted to say that on appeal, the IDNR took a very reasonable position. They said that although the consultation was moot from their point, there was an issue of sufficient public interest that the courts should decide, and he is now hoping that they will get a ruling by the end of the year about whether oral arguments are permitted and a ruling on the appeal by maybe early next year.
Mr. Goodman also stated that Lyman Woods is a preliminarily dedicated nature preserve. It was given preliminary designation in February, 1994. Most recently there was about five acres that were not purchased in 1996, when the rest of the property owned by Town and County Homes was purchased. In early September, it was brought to the Forest Preserve District's (FPD) attention that they should buy this land. The issue was tabled on September 1, 1998. On September 3, 1998, the owners cut three-quarters of the trees on the land. The next time the FPD Commissioners met was September 15, 1998. The motion to approve the purchase was defeated, 10 votes in favor, and 7 votes against, but 13 votes are required to take such an action. On October 6, 1998, the purchase was approved 20 votes to 1, so a letter was sent to the owner. The FPD received no reply, and the owners were out moving dirt on the property. On October 20, 1998, it was approved 17 to 1 to condemn or negotiate. By that afternoon, the Forest Preserve District had obtained a temporary restraining order. There will be a hearing on this condemnation action on Thursday, October 29, 1998. He is quite hopeful that the FPD will acquire this property and possibly use this site for an interpretive center.
Jane Amorosi said this was her third Commission meeting, and it is gratifying to know that there are so many great staff people with IDNR and INPC working throughout the State, as well as Commission members themselves working to preserve these areas. At her first meeting, located at the Brookfield Zoo, she said it would be nice to have a little more recognition of oak savannas since they are an important part of our natural history. She indicated such recognition would have helped when 500 trees were lost in six weeks on the privately owned property around Lyman Woods. It was quite a blow, but if we had a little more public awareness of the importance of oak woods as far as the natural history of the area goes, it would have helped. People were just not informed enough to give the support that is needed. She indicated that on the Agenda, that most of the emphasis has been on wetlands of various sorts: bogs, marshes, fens, waterways, and so forth, as well as prairies. It seems as if not too many people are giving emphasis to the oak heritage. She noted that the beautiful oaks that are located at Camp Wokanda may some day be threatened by the same developmental pressures that the Chicago area is experiencing. People will cut them down, and then there will not be an oak woods here. If there is any way that the Commission could give a little more information to the public and attention to these areas, it would help.
Commissioner Fraker responded this was all oak savannas, up and down the bluffs here. The Peoria Park District owns a substantial portion of this area, and in fact, Chris Ryan is at this meeting observing because the Park District intends to present for dedication in the near future, Singing Woods, which is an oak savanna of more than 1,000 acres. It is being restored by the TNC volunteer program as savanna. He expressed his appreciation for Ms. Amorosi's comments, and stated that the Commission is going in that direction down here in this part of the state.
Chris Ryan, representing Singing Woods, belongs to a committee that is a subsidiary of the Peoria Park District. The group proposed to the Peoria Park District that they consider dedicating Singing Woods, which is approximately a 1,000 acre site, a contiguous oak hickory woodlands with many of the glacial drift prairies discussed earlier. One of the concerns that has been privately raised by some of the trustees of the Park District is the issue of if land to the west of such a preserve was intended to be used, for instance for a golf course, or other use, to what extent would they be limited by the fact that Singing Woods would be, or could be, a nature preserve. He indicated that he has talked to INPC staff, and even talked to some of the Commissioners during break, and it is his understanding that it would be highly unlikely for this body to attempt to interfere with development of land adjacent to a nature preserve unless there was some direct evidence of damage to the nature preserve caused by the development. He asked if there is a written standard for this that he can report to the citizens advisory group and the Park District Board because that is a concern they have.
Don McFall responded that by law the area that is dedicated as a nature preserve stops at the boundary of what was designated as the nature preserve. There is no buffer around a nature preserve. Having said that, things off-site that would damage a nature preserve would be of concern to the Commission, but there is no statutory design zone around a nature preserve.
Mr. Ryan said he understood, but he simply wanted to confirm that and, if issues are raised such as drainage from a golf course that might have herbicides or pesticides in them, there would have to be some level of proof that would be required before this body would jump in. There would not be pro-active attempts to prevent development of a golf course simply because it was a golf course, but rather there would have to be some evidence of an impact or a probable impact.
Commissioner Fraker asked if the ground Mr. Ryan was discussing for the proposed golf course, was public ground.
Mr. Ryan replied he did not mean to say it was a proposed golf course. What he has heard from planning staff and some other people is there are reservations about dedicating Singing Woods because land to the west, owned by the Park District, has been tentatively slated for some type of use in the future, possibly something like Detweiller Park which has a soccer complex. In keeping their options open, there has been some concern voiced by trustees as to whether or not dedication would interfere with any future options. That may be the best way to put it. He would like to be able to say that he has heard it from, pardon the phrase, the horses mouth, that it is an unlikely proposition, and they need not have any significant concerns in that regard.
Chair Ranney said it seems to her that a buffer might make a lot of sense if the nature preserve were down stream from a golf course that was going to use chemicals which may flow into the preserve.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that one of the things that the Commission might do is send them a letter recommending that they leave a buffer strip or that they do not use fertilizer, pesticides, or other chemicals on a certain portion. Other than making a recommendation, unless INPC can see there is actual damage being done, there is not a whole lot that can be done.
Don McFall said the Peoria Park District has owned nature preserves for 35 years, and there have been no conflicts during that time.
Mr. Ryan asked if he would be correct that those issues would arise between a preliminary and a permanent dedication, that is if there were questions about what was going to be used on the land to the west, that might come into play in the final draft, as opposed to a preliminary approval.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that generally surrounding land use issues are discussed in the preliminary approval stage, but at any time it could certainly be discussed.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that this is a question that normally is not asked, at least at the Commission level. For a project like a golf course that involves substantial disturbance of the land and arrangement for drainage, he hopes they would sit down with Commission staff when the golf course is being designed, when the architects come out to design it, so that whatever drainage concerns do arise can be taken care of in the design of the golf course. That is kind of a routine thing to do.
Mr. Ryan stated that the group he represents is certainly in agreement with that philosophy, and in fact, would like to see something other than a golf course go in there, but there are political lobbies that they are dealing with. He stated that they are trying to get part of the apple, at least, committed before they go for the whole apple.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that as long as the problem is the runoff, that can be solved. Engineers can fix that. It should not be a problem.
Patti Malmborg stated that the Park District would have to consult with IDNR before building a golf course if the site has threatened or endangered species, or is an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory site.
Mr. Ryan stated that the site is not on the Illinois Natural Area Inventory.
Commissioner Nevling stated that one does not have to put in an old fashioned golf course, which everyone is assuming that is going on here, but there is a whole new school of golf course design which relies almost exclusively on native plants. In fact, it could be worked out that it might actually be a plus next to the woodlands.
Mr. Ryan responded that they certainly intend on raising that, but there is a strong golf lobby here that is very traditional.
161-26) Other Business
Commissioner Fraker noted that Commissioner Joyce O'Keefe was not here today because she was helping Openlands Project celebrate their 35 year anniversary at their annual meeting today. Today was a fine example of the partnering that goes on in conservation and protection in Illinois. Today's Commission meeting had The Nature Institute from Alton presenting, as well as the Great Rivers Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Natural Land Institute presenting. All of this works. Commissioner Fraker offered a resolution to be communicated by staff to Openlands Project.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission offers their congratulations to Openlands Project for 35 years of diligent and successful work in protecting the natural heritage of Illinois.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Ellis and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 2:50 p.m.