Minutes of the 162nd Meeting
(subject to approval of Commission at 163rd Meeting)
Illinois State Library
300 South Second Street, Room 403
Tuesday, February 2, 1999 - 10:00 a.m.
Cass Co. - Cox Creek Hill Prairies Land and Water
Wabash Co. - Marjorie J. Brines White Oak Woods Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Calhoun Co. - Jennings Family Hill Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Kane Co. - Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve,
Will Co. - Addition of Buffer to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Will Co. - Vermont Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Cook Co. - Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Henry Co. - Mineral Marsh Nature Preserve, Dedication
LaSalle Co. - Lower Fox River - Wedron Palisades Nature Preserve, Dedication
Marshall Co. - Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dedication
Update on Protection of Prairies on Railroad Rights-of-Way
Edgar Co. - Baber Woods Nature Preserve, Authorization to Sell or Barter Wood Products Removed from the Nature Preserve During a Restoration Project
Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve, Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Adoption of Agenda
Approval of Minutes of 161st Meeting, October 27, 1998
INPC Staff Report
IDNR Staff Report
IDNR, Office of Resource Conservation Realignment
Minutes of the 162nd Meeting
Tuesday, February 2, 1999 - 10:00 a.m.
162-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:15 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Ranney, the meeting began.
Carolyn Grosboll, Director of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC), gave the roll call.
Members present: Dianne Burton, Jonathan Ellis, Guy Fraker, Joyce O'Keefe, Don Pierce, and Victoria Ranney.
Members absent: Penny Beattie, Lorin Nevling, and Michael Schneiderman.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Loretta Arient, Steven Byers, Bob Edgin, Judy Faulkner, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Patti Malmborg, Tammie McKay, Angella Moorehouse, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, Brian Reilly, Mary Kay Solecki, and Barbara Ver Steeg, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Randall Collins, Kirby Cottrell, Tim Hickmann, and Tara Gibbs Kieninger, Office of Resource Conservation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Carl Becker, Dean Corgiat, Terry Esker, Dan Greuel, Timothy Kelley, Bill McClain, Randy Nyboer, and Todd Strole, Division of Natural Heritage, IDNR; Deanna Glosser and Keith Shank, Division of Natural Resource Review and Coordination, IDNR; John Arient and Rob Hackett, Land Management and Education, IDNR; Jim Herkert and Sue Lauzon, Endangered Species Protection Board; Jennifer Coady, Susan Dees, George Rose, and Barb Traeger, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Richard Larimore and David Thomas, Illinois Natural History Survey, IDNR; Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society and INPC Consultant; David Monk, Educational Resources in Environmental Sciences (ERES); Vern LaGesse and Tim Tear, The Nature Conservancy (TNC); G. Tanner Girard, Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB); Alfred Koelling, Illinois State Museum and INPC Consultant; Dr. Robert Betz, Northeastern Illinois University and INPC Consultant; Ed Stirling, Natural Land Institute and INPC Consultant; Marcy DeMauro, Forest Preserve District of Will County; John Casebeer and Josh Hensley, Illinois Department of Military Affairs; Michael Melton, Material Service Corporation (MSC); and John Ebinger, Emeritus Professor of Botany, Eastern Illinois University.
Chair Ranney gave an update on properties which were dedicated or registered at INPC's 161st Meeting which was held at Camp Wokanda Lodge, Mossville, Illinois, on October 27, 1998. Legal protection of seven tracts of land totaling 10,042 acres was approved by the Commission. Of these seven areas, three are owned by private individuals or not-for-profit conservation groups. The dollar value of those three tracts of non-government owned land is $391,400, based on conservative estimates of the land's fair market value. This private land was permanently preserved without acquisition of the land by the State. Private lands protected without State acquisition at the previous meeting were the Knox Farm Addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve in McHenry County, totaling 1-acre; DesPain Wetlands Land and Water Reserve in St. Clair County totaling 164 acres; and an Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County totaling less than 1-acre. A total of 166 acres were protected which would have cost an estimated $391,400 to acquire. Protection of this land came about because the INPC has nine staff in the field that work with private landowners. Chair Ranney thanked the field staff for their efforts.
162-2) Adoption of Agenda
Carolyn Grosboll reported one change in the 162nd Meeting Agenda. Item 16 will not be presented at this meeting due to a problem with the legal description.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the Agenda be adopted as amended.
162-3) Approval of Minutes of 161st Meeting, October 27, 1998
Carolyn Grosboll reported two corrections to be made to the Minutes of the 161st Meeting. On page 2, line 5, the word Coleman in Colman Dells was misspelled, and on page 2 of the Staff Report the second sentence of the second paragraph should read Brookville, rather than Brookfield.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Pierce, and carried that the revised Minutes of the 161st INPC meeting be approved.
162-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Carolyn Grosboll reported that the 163rd Meeting of the INPC will be held May 4, 1999, at Volo Bog State Natural Area, Ingleside, Illinois.
162-5) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll updated the Commission on the lawsuit brought by the Brookville Lutheran Cemetery Association. The Association wants to bury people in the dedicated nature preserve. In the lawsuit, it was alleged that the language in the dedication document allows for burials to occur. However, the statute is clear that once an area is dedicated as a nature preserve, lots are not to be conveyed for burial purposes. In this situation, no lots had been conveyed prior to the dedication.
Both the Association and the Attorney General, who is representing the Commission in this lawsuit, filed a motion for summary judgement on December 15, 1998, asking the judge to make his determination based upon the law. Responses to the motion were filed in January, 1999, and replies to the responses were due at the end of January, 1999. A hearing will be held on February 17, 1999.
Carolyn reported that she has been working closely with the Assistant Attorney General handling the case, and among other things being argued is that the case should have been brought in the Court of Claims, rather than the Circuit Court since it is a lawsuit against the State. The Assistant Attorney General has found case law to support that argument. One of the outcomes could be for the location of the suit to be changed from the Circuit Court of Carroll County to the Court of Claims, but the INPC is hoping that the judge will find, based upon the law, that the statute is clear that burials are not allowed within the dedicated Nature preserve. Carolyn will continue to update the Commission on this issue.
Carolyn updated the Commission on the situation at Lyman Woods. Lyman Woods is a preliminarily dedicated nature preserve in the Village of Downer's Grove, DuPage County. At previous meetings, Gordon Goodman of Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance, has updated the Commission on Lyman Woods. Mr. Goodman has been informing the Commission about a lawsuit that was filed by Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance against the IDNR and the Village of Downer's Grove. The lawsuit alleged that the consultation process between the IDNR and the Village, involving the expansion of a hospital located adjacent to Lyman Woods, was done incorrectly since the Village did not consult directly with the IDNR, but allowed the Good Samaritan Hospital to directly consult with IDNR.
According to the statute governing consultation, a State or local government agency shall consult with the IDNR on whether "actions, including capital projects, that are authorized, funded, or carried out by the agency of State or local government are likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of any natural area that is registered under the Act or on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory." (525 ILCS 30/17). Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance alleged that there was no authority for the hospital to consult directly with the IDNR, since the language states that the local government or State agency has the obligation to consult.
The case went to the Circuit Court in DuPage County, and Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance lost the case. However, the trial court said that the hospital did not have to consult under the law because it was a private entity doing its business on private land. Even though the Village had to approve or authorize the expansion, the approval or authorization was not the type of action described in the statute which would trigger the consultation. This ruling is counter to the way that the IDNR interprets its authority under the statute and would limit the IDNR's ability to give recommendations on projects that are being conducted by private entities on private land. As a result of the trial judge's decision, the IDNR and Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance both appealed the decision to the Appellate Court, and that Court upheld the lower court's ruling. In its decision, the Appellate Court made some statements that would severely limit the consultation as far as natural areas are concerned when a private entity is doing something on private land. The Court interpreted statutory language that was part of the statute before the consultation provisions were added. The pre-existing language provides that the State and local government agencies should avoid the planning of any action that would have a negative impact on a natural area or a registered area. The Court construed the pre-existing language and the consultation language together and said that if it is not the local unit of government or the State agency actually doing the planning and doing the action itself, then consultation is not required.
The INPC staff and the IDNR are concerned about the effect that this ruling may have on the consultation process and the ability to provide recommendations on projects. It is important to note that the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act (IESPA) was not interpreted in this lawsuit. Therefore, any consultations required because there is threatened or endangered species at a site will continue as it always has. Also, the "planning" language is not in the IESPA. The decision was a 2-1 decision, and the dissenting judge's interpretation of the law was the same as the Department's position.
Carolyn reported that she has been working with IDNR staff to determine what the impacts of this decision will be. She has been talking with the Attorney General's office about the possibility of appealing the case to the Illinois Supreme Court. Carolyn reported that Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance is appealing the case to the Illinois Supreme Court. She will continue to keep the Commission updated as this case proceeds through the system. The first battle will be getting the Supreme Court to agree to hear the case since they generally agree to hear about 1% of those cases that are appealed to them. The alternative would be to initiate some legislative changes to make the statute more clear on what the intent was.
Carolyn updated the Commission on gravel mining adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. In early December Carolyn received word that the hydrology report regarding the Fen was done. However, Material Service Corporation (MSC) has asked the Commission and the Scientific Surveys, who will be reviewing the report on the Commission's behalf, to sign a confidentiality agreement before they will release the report. Carolyn reported that a copy of the agreement was sent to her. After reviewing the agreement, along with Commissioners Fraker, Schneiderman, and Chair Ranney, it was determined to be too restrictive. The agreement would have limited the Commission from even talking with the IDNR or the Attorney General's Office about the contents of the report.
After determining the agreement was too restrictive, a letter was sent to MSC in mid January, 1999, indicating that the Commission would not sign the agreement. MSC has contacted the Commission to discuss the possibility of putting together some alternative language. Carolyn reported that she has tentatively agreed to meet with MSC on Friday, February 5, 1999, to talk about some possible alternative language. Carolyn informed MSC that she needed to discuss this issue with the Commission to see what the Commissioners' thoughts were on signing an agreement. After the meeting was tentatively set, Carolyn contacted the Attorney General's Office which was first briefed on this issue last fall. The Attorney General's Office has offered to help the Commission develop some language and has also stated that they would like to come to the meeting on Friday, February 5, 1999. Carolyn asked the Commissioners if they would be willing to look at alternative language or if they feel uncomfortable signing any language.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that it was difficult to imagine what kind of alternative would be appropriate for the Commission. As a public body, the Commission has limitations on how it can limit itself in sharing information. She questioned whether the Commission could actually do that. She felt the strength of the Commission lies in being able to share information and making information available to the public. Commissioner O'Keefe indicated that she would have real qualms about suggesting that the Commission might be willing to limit itself.
Carolyn reported that Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve is held in trust for the benefit of the people of the State of Illinois. It is owned by the IDNR and the Village of Lake in the Hills. The McHenry County Conservation District holds an easement on the property. There are three public bodies involved in the ownership and management of this Nature Preserve. The Commission needs the ability to be able to talk about this.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that the public has a right to know what is happening at the Fen. She felt that after the Commission discusses this further, a motion may need to be made regarding this issue. Chair Ranney stated that the confidentiality agreement, as it was sent, was very restrictive. It did not state why MSC needed the agreement.
Carolyn reported that she talked with Frank Werderitsch, Director of Environmental Services at MSC. Frank indicated that the confidentiality agreement was requested because of a newspaper article that appeared in the Northwest Daily Herald, Crystal Lake, Illinois. The article quoted Al Wilson, the Fen's Site Steward and Patti Malmborg. Some of the things that Al talked about were issues that the Commission had long resolved with MSC, and they were not appropriate for him to have been talking about at that point in time. The article also tied quotes from Patti and Al together so that it appeared that Al worked for the Commission. Carolyn reported that she could appreciate MSC's concern about those quotes, but at the same time, Al Wilson does not work for the Commission or represent the Commission. The reporter was contacted by telephone, and it was indicated to her that it was unfair for her to have characterized Al Wilson as working for the Commission. Hopefully in the future, the reporter will know that Al Wilson does not work for the Commission.
Carolyn asked Michael Melton from MSC if he would like to comment on this issue. Mr. Melton responded that he felt it would be best if the Commission would continue their discussion with Frank Werderitsch.
Carolyn reported that she has informed Frank Werderitsch that the Commission would not release the report, not even pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request and cited to Frank an example of a request made by MSC that was denied under the Freedom of Information Act because the information requested was proprietary. Carolyn assured Frank Werderitsch that if someone were to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the IDNR asking for MSC's information, the IDNR would deny it because it was proprietary information.
Chair Ranney stated that MSC should not worry that the IDNR and the Commission would be giving out information to competitors that might be used against them.
Commissioner Fraker stated that he concurred with Commissioner O'Keefe's remarks. Commissioner Fraker stated that he did not see any reason for the Commission to sign a confidentiality agreement. The Commission's credibility, as protector of these sites, is damaged if the Commission has a deal to keep a secret with potential offenders. Commissioner Fraker did not think the Commission should agree to sign the confidentiality agreement.
Commissioner Pierce reported that he felt the same way.
Chair Ranney stated that it should be made clear that a confidentiality agreement was never part of what MSC requested. MSC has been promising this report since July, 1998, assuring the Commission that the report would show that there would be no damage to the Fen. It was only when the report was ready to be given to the Commission that MSC said they would like to have a confidentiality agreement. Chair Ranney felt it was significant that MSC never told the Commission that they needed a signed agreement in the beginning.
Carolyn informed the Commission that there has been a moratorium on the mining since late August, 1998, when both Chair Ranney and she received telephone calls informing them that there would be a moratorium until the report was updated. The mining season begins again in March, 1999, and there is no indication that the moratorium will continue.
Commissioner O'Keefe said that a formal motion may not be necessary, but having polled the Commission, the direction to staff is really not to enter into such an agreement at this time.
Carolyn stated that she would call Frank Werderitsch to let him know of the Commission's discussion and to let him know it will not be necessary to meet on Friday, February 5, 1999, to talk about alternative language.
Chair Ranney asked Carolyn to also say that it is not in the Commission's interest to slur MSC. If there is any unfair press, the Commission will do exactly what Carolyn did previously by letting the reporter know. It is the Commission's responsibility as a public commission to let these issues be aired in public, and the Commission does not see a reason for the confidentiality agreement.
(Discussed after Item 9) Chair Ranney wanted to make clear that the INPC would like to ask MSC, in the spirit of cooperation, to provide INPC a copy of the report that MSC said they would provide. INPC's objective in this is to get the information. The Commission needs to know more about what is going on with the hydrology that feeds the Fen. If MSC does not want to provide the report without a confidentiality agreement, then the Commission could ask MSC to stop mining for a period of time so that State scientists could go in and get the same information. This process would just take longer. If the report were provided, it would speed up the process, resulting in a better outcome. Chair Ranney thanked Mr. Melton for attending the Commission Meeting.
Mr. Melton responded that he appreciated Chair Ranney's comments because it was his feeling that lines of communication should be kept open. The report contains information from 1984 to present, and the information has been put together in one cohesive package. It was his hope that MSC and the Commission can work together toward a common goal.
Commissioner Burton asked if there would be some dialogue between Carolyn and MSC to move toward an agreement.
Chair Ranney stated that it would be beneficial to keep the line of communication open between the Commission and MSC. The Commission would like to see the report, and steps to resolve this problem should be pursued.
Carolyn reported that she would be in contact with Frank Werderitsch, convey what has transpired at this meeting, and talk further with him on this issue.
Carolyn updated the Commission on the situation at Lusk Creek Canyon. Carolyn reported that there have been some recent events that have been occurring at Lusk Creek Canyon on the Shawnee National Forest that she felt the Commission should be aware of. Lusk Creek Canyon, located in Pope County, is a 353-acre natural area containing seven endangered or threatened species. Most of the area is owned by the Forest Service, and part of it is owned by the IDNR. The IDNR-owned part has been dedicated as a nature preserve. In addition to the state recognition as a natural area, in 1980 the National Park Service designated 850 acres, including the natural area and some buffer land, as the Lusk Creek Canyon National Natural Landmark. A National Natural Landmark (NNL) is a nationally significant natural area recognized by the Secretary of the Interior. The designation is voluntarily agreed to by the landowner.
Because this area is a NNL, the National Park Service has an obligation to visit the site annually and provide a report to Congress on its condition. This past fall, the Regional Landmarks Coordinator from the National Park Service Midwest Office visited Lusk Creek Canyon. In his report, it was specified that Lusk Creek has four types of damage: 1) degradation of water quality by organic wastes and siltation; 2) soil compaction and erosion; 3) vegetation degradation; and 4) disturbance and removal of rare, threatened, and endangered species. The report specified that the damage was done by equestrian use and acknowledged that there are currently about eight ranchers that advertise Lusk Creek Canyon as a recreational area for equestrian activities on a national scale. This area is getting quite a bit of use. The report further said that damage is likely to continue at possibly accelerating rates. The report recognized that part of the Landmark owned by the IDNR is not being damaged, and that is the portion that is dedicated as a nature preserve. IDNR has been able to do its part in keeping the equestrians out of their area, but it is the Forest Service's portion that is continuing to be damaged.
The Park Service forwarded the report to the Shawnee National Forest, and Forest Supervisor Louise Odegaard responded acknowledging the damage. She said that the Shawnee was in the process of closing the area, along with 39 other natural areas owned by the Shawnee. However, she did not say when these closures would occur. In recent discussions Commission staff has had with her, she indicated that the closures are on hold until the outcome of a lawsuit against the Shawnee, which we have learned is probably not going to be heard in court until the summer of 1999.
The report is significant in that it is a federal agency recognizing and documenting the damage, just as we have done over the past few years. Also, it is significant that this area was recognized by the federal government long before the Forest Management Plan was done, and before the area was recognized as an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) site.
Carolyn suggested that it would be appropriate at this time for the Commission to write a letter to Louise Odegaard and urge that this area, Lusk Creek Canyon, be closed immediately in light of the report by the National Park Service. It is imperative that this area be closed.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Ellis, and carried that a letter be sent to Louise Odegaard with a copy to Senator Durbin and the local Congressional representatives stating the following resolution:
In light of the report by the U.S. National Park Service of significant damage occurring at Lusk Creek Canyon, the Commission respectfully urges the Shawnee National Forest to immediately close Lusk Creek Canyon to equestrian use before the character for which it was recognized as a National Natural Landmark is destroyed.
Don McFall updated the Commission on the activities of the field staff since the last Commission Meeting. This last fall was perhaps one of the best years the Commission has had, because of weather conditions, for prescribed burning in the woodlands, prairies, and in some wetland nature preserves and land and water reserves. Randy Heidorn will provide more detail on prescribed burning in his report.
The Commission is becoming more involved in the IDNR's program, Conservation 2000 (C2000). The field staff, as a group, and also as individuals, have recognized that this is a way to make sure that the natural areas and nature preserves are within a more healthy landscape. The field staff have provided their assistance and influence on the C2000 work. For example, John Alesandrini represents the Commission on two C2000 partnerships, the Driftless Area Partnership in northwestern Illinois, and the Sugar-Pecatonica River Partnership which is just north of Rockford.
Steve Byers continues to be active with Chicago Wilderness. Currently he is reviewing the draft recovery plan for that large area. He prepared C2000 grant applications for land acquisition, along with a grant application with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand fen restorations on dedicated nature preserves.
Patti Malmborg, working with Brian Reilly, developed C2000 proposals for erosion control and stream bank stabilization projects at Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve in Will County. This will not only help protect that preserve, but it is also a pilot project for reducing the problem of erosion in urban streams like Thorn Creek in the Chicago area. Patti continued to work on natural resource issues for the Fox River bridge crossing in Kane County. She is also continuing to work on the mitigation and restoration plans for the Millhurst Fen INAI site off of the Fox River, after a Lakehead Pipeline spill in the Fen.
Brian Reilly worked with three C2000 partnerships and helped them submit three grant proposals. He is working with the LaSalle County Zoning Board to implement conservation zoning around IDNR land, high quality streams and rivers, and natural areas in LaSalle County. LaSalle County is considering county-wide zoning for the first time. This is an opportunity for the Commission to be sure the local officials are aware of important natural areas in their county.
Angella Moorehouse represented the Commission at the Midwest Rare Plant Conference at the Chicago Botanical Gardens in December, 1998. She also assisted with the 14th Annual Keokuk Bald Eagle Appreciation Days, held in Keokuk, Iowa in January, 1999. She was able to showcase the Cedar Glen Nature Preserve at this event and on an associated radio interview.
Tom Lerczak negotiated a new Natural Heritage Landmark (NHL) in Cass County. Bluff Springs Hill Prairie NHL is a 3.3-acre loess hill prairie, which includes an endangered plant occurrence. The owners are Norman and Georgia Davidsmeyer of Elk Grove Village.
Don reported that Tom Lerczak has offered to host a field trip after today's meeting to Carpenter Park Nature Preserve, here in Springfield.
Mary Kay Solecki is coordinating an expansion of the Commission's Vegetation Management Guidelines. These are guidelines that are given to landowners to help them use the best, up-to-date, methods for controlling exotic species of plants particularly on nature preserves. The update will be of 27 exotic and invasive species of plants that are management problems, and it will include nine new species.
Debbie Newman worked with the IDNR and 11 volunteers to clean up sinkholes at Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve. She also developed management schedules for six nature preserves.
Bob Edgin worked with the Illinois Audubon Society to protect, through acquisition, a 40-acre post oak flatwoods in Hamilton County. This part of the State has very little land that has been protected. Don congratulated Bob and the Illinois Audubon Society for the very fine area that has been protected.
Judy Faulkner represented the Commission at a U.S. Forest Service Regional Strategic Planning Meeting in Chicago in November, 1998. She also represented the Commission at the Endangered Species Protection Board Meeting in November, 1998, to provide the Commission's input on the issue of damage to the natural areas in the Shawnee National Forest by equestrian use.
Don advised the Commission that there is an updated list available on the 26 areas that are now enrolled in the land and water reserve program. Also, the Wetlands Initiative in Chicago has published a handbook for owners of wetland areas which contains very practical information. The IDNR's Critical Trends Program is gradually working throughout the State on the identified resource rich areas. This is the science base that is used for the C2000 and landscape level protection. Don had these publications available for those who were interested.
Chair Ranney asked Don to do a review for everyone here today of what was discussed on Monday, February 1, 1999, regarding the three different ways that the INPC can help to preserve land.
Don reported that the INPC has developed and offers three main programs: 1) the Natural Heritage Landmark; 2) the Land and Water Reserve; and 3) the Nature Preserve.
Most people are familiar with the nature preserve. This was the original program which started in 1963. There are currently 280 nature preserves. The landowner voluntarily and permanently restricts the use of their property. The landowner dedicates the property for preservation of the natural conditions. In return, the Commission offers management advise and assistance. In the case of private landowners, a reduction of property taxes is given. Once the property is dedicated as a nature preserve, there are rigid restrictions on what can be done on the land.
The land and water reserve program is also a legally binding program. This program was started in 1994. Currently, there are 26 properties registered in this program. Allowable uses of the land are broader in this program. Hunting and fishing activities are important to many owners, and these activities are allowed in a land and water reserve. There are some tax incentives for private owners available, but these incentives are not as large as with the nature preserve dedication. The program is also meant to be permanent, but time limited registrations are allowed. The reasoning behind the land and water reserves was that perhaps larger areas could be protected since broader uses are allowed in the reserves. This has been a very successful program.
The third program that is offered is the NHL program. This is only offered to private individuals and families. This program is not offered to government agencies because the hope is that the government agencies will make the legally binding commitment to protect the land. The NHL program is a non-binding agreement where the owner agrees to protect the area for as long as they can. The Commission assists with management advice and builds the landowner's knowledge and understanding of something that they might have on their private land in hopes that eventually they will take more steps to protect the land. The Commission has had this program for 18 years. There are currently113 Natural Heritage Landmarks.
Randy Heidorn updated the Commission on a few stewardship activities of the INPC staff. Stewardship takes place after the dedication to maintain the natural character of the land. Randy reported that the Julia M. and Royce L. Parker Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County has received its final listing as Class III groundwater, also called Special Resource Groundwater. This is the first listing of its kind. The listing allows the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) to establish more stringent groundwater quality standards. It also increases the priority of cleanups in the recharge area of the Fen. Most importantly, this designation brings the recharge area for the Nature Preserve to the attention of local land use planners. Hopefully, this will allow them to incorporate protection of that site as they are doing land use planning and development.
Randy reported that the IDNR is planning a series of Cache River enhancement projects. The IDNR plans to dredge a silt bar in the Cache River Land and Water Reserve. The purpose of this dredging is to remove sediment that would block any restoration of the Cache River to its original channel. After the channels associated with the Post Creek cut off were constructed, sediment built up in the upper reaches of the lower Cache River channel. The sediment would effectively block any effort to a more natural flow to this portion of the River. This project would remove the blockage. The management schedule that was approved with the registration included this project in general terms. Commission staff are working with IDNR staff to develop the specifics of the project. The location for the work is in a sensitive area. There are water elm on the banks, which are common in this area, but it is a State-listed species. IDNR staff will minimize impacts to the water elm in the process of doing the work. The goal of this project is to not harm the population of water elm.
Randy updated the Commission on the Special Use Permits. Barbara Ver Steeg works very hard on permits this time of year. Each Special Use Permit expires at the end of December requiring permit holders to request renewals of permits. There has also been a considerable increase in the number of new requests. Since January 19, 1999, Barbara had issued 137 permits at 85 preserves. These are held by 53 permittees. This is a 36% increase in permits since last year, a 13% increase in the preserves with permits, and a 23% increase in the number of permittees.
As Don mentioned, INPC staff were very busy assisting with prescribed burns this past fall. The fall of 1998 was one of the best falls on record to accomplish prescribed burning which may be attributed to the dry and warm temperatures. INPC staff assisted in the burning of 2,523 acres at 30 sites. At ten of those areas, totaling 563 acres, INPC staff acted as the burn leader.
INPC staff have been invited to participate in the annual resource review process for the IDNR. This is the planning process that the IDNR uses to determine how their lands are managed. For the last several years, INPC has been invited to participate in those discussions and give input. This is a good example of how IDNR and INPC have been cooperating on management issues.
Randy reported to the Commission that Barbara Ver Steeg participated in a native plant conference in the Chicago area. Barbara gave the Commission's input to the planning processes to protect native plants in Illinois and the midwest.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked Randy to catagorize the kinds of things that require a Special Use Permit. Commissioner O'Keefe also asked if each permit was always eventually approved.
Randy reported that a Special Use Permit is required for any type of research activity in the preserve, along with any activity where collecting may occur in a preserve. At times, permits will be issued to people who are collecting seed for restorations in a local area. People are becoming more aware that the permits are required. The increase in awareness is contributing to the increase in the number of permits. Randy would also attribute the increase to Barbara's work on this. As a researcher herself, Barbara is able to work with the applicants to try and meet their needs as researchers in addition to protecting the preserve. It is rare that a permit is denied totally. It is sometimes suggested that the applicant modify their methods in certain aspects.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if the permits were exclusively for research activity as opposed to management activities. Randy reported that this was correct. Management activities are approved through the management schedule in the planning process.
162-6) IDNR Staff Report
Carl Becker reported that he was pleased to announce that the IDNR was able to acquire and protect 313 acres at Goose Lake Prairie that was offered for sale by Commonwealth Edison. The IDNR could not have acquired this property without the help and assistance from CorLands in making the financial arrangements to acquire this property. In turn, IDNR acquired the land from CorLands. Many of the utilities throughout Illinois are liquidating a large amount of their real property assets. This is presenting a real challenge to many who are interested in the conservation of land. There are still some additional properties at the Collins Station near Goose Lake Prairie that the IDNR is interested in. Hopefully, as a result of the IDNR's efforts to acquire this 313 acres, we will be able to have a dialogue with Commonwealth Edison to acquire the remainder of the property. Clearly the issue of utility lands being sold is before us, and the IDNR expects others like Illinois Power to follow in the near future. IDNR has also optioned a 150-acre addition to the Cache River State Natural Area in Johnson County. This is on the north end of Little Black Slough Nature Preserve. There are uplands to buffer the area as the IDNR continues to provide more protection for that entire Cache area.
Another program that the IDNR offers, which many times benefits natural areas, is the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant Program. In November, Governor Edgar announced a number of these grants, and Carl wanted to bring one to the Commission's attention. Winnebago County Forest Preserve District received a grant to acquire a 170-acre tract containing frontage on both banks of the Kishwaukee River near Rockford. The Kishwaukee River is a high quality stream that provides habitat for two endangered or threatened species. This program continues to address the goals and the mission of the INPC.
Carl reported that one of the District Heritage Biologists (DHB), Maggie Cole, took a position with C2000 approximately five months ago. Maggie Cole is the Ecosystems Coordinator for Region 2. Carl informed the Commission that IDNR hired Dan Kirk to fill this vacancy, and he started on January 16, 1999. Dan is a Southern Illinois University (SIU) graduate. He did his research work for his Master's Degree on the Cooper's hawk. Prior to working with the IDNR, he was a resident at the Savanna Army Depot. Dan will soon become fully oriented and ready to take care of business in Kane, Kendall, DuPage, and Cook counties. Carl stated that the IDNR is also in the process of filling another district position in northeastern Illinois which will ultimately be responsible for Cook and DuPage counties.
Carl updated the Commission regarding the efforts which began as Teaming With Wildlife, and is now known as the Conservation and Reinvestment Act. Two weeks ago, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act was reintroduced into the current session of the Senate. The Senate Bill is S. 25 and was introduced by Senators Landrieu, Murkowski, Breaux, Sessions, Cleland, Lott, Johnson, Gregg, Mikulski, and Cochran. The IDNR hopes to be able to enlist the support of Senators Durbin and Fitzgerald, and add their names to this Bill.
There are three titles in the Bill. Title I is Coastal Impact Assistance, and it will provide revenues to 34 coastal states, including Illinois because the Great Lakes states are included. Twenty percent of the outer continental shelf oil revenues would be dedicated for this purpose. It is estimated that Illinois would receive up to 12 million dollars as a result of this effort. If the Bill is passed, the money could be used for wetland restoration/protection, coastal restoration, shoreline protection, and various infrastructure needs.
Title II is a permanent source of funding dedicated for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In years past, this fund provided funds to the states to grant to local park districts and forest preserve districts to acquire and develop outdoor recreation land. Sixteen percent of the outer continental shelf oil revenues would be dedicated for this purpose nationwide. This would be approximately 768 million dollars. Forty-five percent would be dedicated for federal land acquisition, 45% for stateside matching grant programs, and 10% for urban park and recreation programs. It is estimated that Illinois would receive approximately 9 million dollars under this program.
Title III is the Wildlife Conservation Program, which is basically the bulk of the Teaming With Wildlife initiative. The Senate proposal dedicates 7% of outer continental shelf oil revenues. The House version of this Bill, which has not been reintroduced at this point in time, is at 10%. One of the IDNR's goals is to convince the Senate to increase the amount from 7% to 10%. Under the 7% formula, there would be 336 million dollars nationwide. Approximately 12.9 million dollars would be allocated to the State of Illinois.
Carl stated that this is an important conservation initiative, and it would bring great benefit to the State of Illinois. The IDNR and others in partnership are working diligently to see that this legislation is crafted in the form that is acceptable to everyone and of interest to Illinois. Hopefully, the Bill will be passed in this session of Congress.
Carl reminded everyone that Line 26a of the Illinois 1040 Tax Return will allow donation of a portion of the tax refund of a dollar or more to the Wildlife Preservation Fund. This is the fifteenth year of this fund. It has generated well over 3 million dollars and funded approximately 400 projects. Some of the most notable projects are restoration of the peregrine falcon in Illinois, the river otter, the importation of prairie chickens that was done for genetic management, and research that the IDNR did to get the information necessary to make the case to protect the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and Savanna Army Depot. Carl asked that everyone make a contribution to this fund by marking Line 26a of their Illinois State Tax Return.
Chair Ranney confirmed that Senate Bill 25 (S. 25) is important, and that the Commission should be urging Senator Durbin and Senator Fitzgerald to sign on as sponsors of this Bill.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission will send a formal letter to Senator Durbin and Senator Fitzgerald requesting them to cosponsor Senate Bill 25.
162-7) IDNR, Office of Resource Conservation Realignment
Kirby Cottrell informed the Commission that the realignment in the Office of Resource Conservation is moving forward. Kirby also reported that Director Manning has accepted the Commission's resolution to act as an advisory committee to him regarding the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF). A copy of a letter, signed by Kirby and Carolyn Grosboll, to the Commission in December, 1998, was given to the Commissioners. The letter reported the Director's acceptance. On February 17, 1999, Kirby will be meeting with the Commission to discuss the details of the Commission's role as advisors to the Director on the use of the NAAF.
Kirby reported that a letter was sent to him from the Commission on January 12, 1999, requesting some background information on the NAAF. A response was sent January 29, 1999, and the Commission met on February 1, 1999, to discuss the information, along with other items.
Kirby informed the Commission that Doug Austen has been in contact with Dr. Tim Tear of TNC regarding the Natural Heritage Database. Kirby was not aware of any problems with the meeting. Doug and Tim will continue to work together. Both Kirby and the Director have met with Bruce Boyd, Michael Reuter, and Claudia Emken of TNC and are also planning to meet them on Thursday, February 4, 1999, to tour the Cache River area.
Kirby reported that the IDNR is poised in a very unique position with the promise of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act that Carl discussed earlier. Also, Governor Ryan has proposed the Illinois Open Land Trust initiative which provides for 40 million dollars for each of the next four years. With these two initiatives, the IDNR finds itself uniquely positioned to accomplish much in the next few years. Kirby reported that the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) was devised to protect the Illinois River and its watershed. The IDNR has approximately 123 landowners signed up in the program, protecting approximately 16,000 acres. In Schuyler County, the entire main stem of the Illinois River from Anderson State Wildlife Area to the town of Frederick has been protected by permanent easements. This covers 15 miles of river, and the cost per acre to the State is $500 per acre. Kirby reported that the Governor's budget message will be delivered on February 17, 1999, where he will discuss the Open Land Trust initiative and the CREP program.
Kirby introduced Tim Hickmann of ORC's Special Funds Unit. Tim thanked the Commission for inviting him back. Tim updated the Commission on the activities of the Special Funds Unit. Tim distributed a list of a few of the activities that the Unit has been involved with. These activities involve staff of the various offices and divisions within IDNR.
Since October 1, 1998, when the Special Funds Unit was formed, the Unit has coordinated the preparation of the annual grant packages for the FY2000 Federal Aid in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs. These programs bring approximately nine million dollars to the IDNR every year. The Special Funds Unit coordinated the annual project meetings of the Habitat Fund and Pheasant Fund committees. These meetings resulted in 104 new grant awards, totaling approximately one million dollars. These awards also have a private share match of approximately $270,000. The Habitat Fund has awarded three different land acquisitions out of this year's pool of funds. The Unit provided administrative support for the annual Duck Stamp Committee meeting held on January 27, 1999. The Committee recommended six awards totaling $500,000 with matching cost shares of over four million dollars. The Unit has developed new grant agreement documents for all ORC special funds to make a proper distinction between the grants and contracts in relation to the State's new procurement laws. All ORC special fund programs, including the Wildlife Preservation Fund and NAAF programs, should be able to benefit from these new forms.
The Special Funds Unit is currently coordinating the preparation of a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant. This is for land acquisition and/or protection in the Momence Wetlands area of the Kankakee River. The Unit hopes to leverage existing C2000 awards, NAAF, and general revenue dollars to attract an additional $600,000 in federal funds for that area. The Unit is also cooperating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Audubon Society in the preparation of a NAWCA grant for wetlands protection in the Black-Crown Marsh area of Lake County and McHenry County. The estimated possible award in this instance could reach up to a million dollars. This is based on the known match that exists in the area. The State's action plan for protection of wetlands within the joint venture boundaries of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan has been finalized. This plan will help Illinois become more competitive in NAWCA grants in the future. It sets out acquisition and protection goals for the next 15 years.
The Unit counseled the Illinois Waste Management Research Center on the preparation of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) grant application for $318,000 to evaluate screening methods for removal of asbestos from sand at Illinois Beach State Park and Nature Preserve. The Unit has counseled staff of the Endangered Species Protection Board and the Division of Natural Heritage on the administration of a grant award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the Illinois Audubon Society for additional land acquisitions at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area. The Unit has coordinated Department responses to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the review team report on management activities at Green River State Fish and Wildlife Area. The Unit continues to serve as a point of contact for the Defense Contractor's Audit Agency which is under contract by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to audit the federal aid programs that come to the IDNR. The Unit has consulted with the Office of Law Enforcement on the administration of a new three million dollar grant for fiscal year 2000 to hire 40 new conservation police officers. The Unit has consulted with the Division of Engineering regarding grant administration of Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief grants awarded to the Department. Tim reported that some of these activities are probably of greater interest than others to the Commission, but these projects represent a sampling of the Unit's activities over the last several months.
Commissioner Fraker stated that he was pleased by the Director's reappointment which will provide some continuity to the really good work of the Department. It was his feeling that the Commission could look forward to the same sensitivities with issues that matter to the Commission. At the last meeting, Commissioner Fraker stated he may have been somewhat critical of ORC and the Special Funds Unit and the realignment of the Natural Heritage Database. Commissioner Fraker wanted to express to Kirby Cottrell and Tim Hickmann, in a personal way, the appreciation for the flexibility they have shown and the partnership in working together with TNC regarding the use of the database. Commissioner Fraker felt that everyone will benefit by that. He also commended the Director for naming the Commission as the advisory board for the NAAF. He was grateful for the opportunity for the Commission to have some impact on a very meaningful issue. He stated that the Commission had a meeting on February 1, 1999, to discuss their role as the advisory board for the NAAF, and the Commission is grateful to have another meeting with the Department on February 17, 1999, to further discuss this issue. A principal concern of the Commission is the trend that has grown over the years with the use of the NAAF; specifically, that more and more of the Fund is being used for operations rather than acquisitions. The Commission appreciates the opportunity to have a meeting to discuss this in an in-depth manner in an attempt to gain a better understanding. It is the Commission's hope that more of the Fund's money might be directed toward acquisition. The Commission wants to deal with the use of the Fund as a general matter rather than merely taking a look at what sites are set for acquisition.
Kirby responded that ORC is pleased to have the Commission be a part of that process. Regarding the NAAF, he stated that it is a general trend across State government for special funds to be moved to operations as general revenue dollars have been lost. That is something ORC deals with, along with the Department on a whole and the rest of the agencies in State government. Currently the State seems to be in good financial status, and there is hope that some general revenue can come back to the agencies to replace some of the operational dollars that have been put on special funds in the past.
Chair Ranney reported that the Commission is very cognizant of the fact that in the early 1990's the State's financial picture was bleak. Some operations would not have continued if moneys had not been taken out of the acquisition fund and put into operations, but the Commission has talked a good deal about what is an appropriate amount for any agency to allocate to operations and what should be directly set for the job that needs to be done. Chair Ranney noted that if a foundation or a non-profit agency went above 25% for operations, they would be criticized. The Department is way above that percentage now, and what the Commission would like to propose is a gradual rollback of the amount that was taken out of the NAAF for operations and that amount to be picked up by the General Revenue Fund (GRF).
Kirby responded that the proposed Federal Conservation and Reinvestment Act would offer IDNR the opportunity to use some of its money for operations of the Natural Heritage Division which would allow more money for acquisitions. There is promise out there from other avenues as well. Kirby stated that he shared the Commission's concern in terms that the Department would like to see more money for acquisition. As salaries grow and as vehicles get more expensive, the cost of operations increase. The more staff a department has, the larger the payroll. Kirby informed the Commission that the ORC is looking forward to discussing strategies with the Commission.
162-8) Cass Co. - Cox Creek Hill Prairies Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Tim Kelley presented a proposal for registration of the Cox Creek Hill Prairies as a land and water reserve. This proposed reserve is a 575-acre site located on the northern boundary of Site M in Cass County. The proposed reserve is owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The predominant community within this area is loess hill prairie, and several high quality sites are present along the north side of Panther Creek. The site was recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1334) as a Category I site containing hill prairies of statewide significance. State-listed threatened species are also present, including Hill's thistle (Cirsium hillii), pale false foxglove (Agalinis skinneriana), Ottoe skipper (Hesperia ottoe), and the white lady's slipper orchid (Cypripedium candidum). A 1995 report states that this area contains "the largest complex of loess hill prairies in the state".
Commissioner Fraker asked if this was the first registration on Site M, and if other registrations were anticipated.
Tim responded that another hill prairie is anticipated on a satellite of Site M, which is called Panther Creek. The Cox Creek Hill Prairies is a substantial registration in acreage and represents a good opportunity to restore this type of community.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the Cox Creek Hill Prairie is the most significant natural feature on Site M, at least from the natural area prospective. Most of Site M has been degraded or was farmed.
Tim stated that the vast majority of this site has been farmed or pastured. The Cox Creek Hill Prairies have not been grazed, at least not as heavily.
Kirby Cottrell stated that Tim Kelley was a key figure in a multi-disciplined effort on Site M. Tim resolved some difficulties that were related to this registration, and Kirby thanked Tim for his efforts.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that this registration is very exciting, and she hopes to visit Site M in the near future. She wanted to know if the 40 acres of crop land on this site was the extent of the crop land in the reserve.
Tim responded that this was the case, and that hunting will continue to be allowed within this land and water reserve. Hunting is a major focus at Site M, and the bottomland fields, which are not a natural feature, will be the area restricted to hunting within the reserve. This area is currently in agricultural production, but most will be taken out of production with the exception of approximately 40 acres. This area will allow a small habitat for turkeys, deer, and some of the species that reside there. It will also allow winter food for these species.
Alfred Koelling addressed a question to Tim Kelley. He noticed that in the Management Objectives for this site that there was a listing under Item D, Acalypha deamii - monitor populations of Acalypha deamii. On the list of species of the area, Acalypha deamii was not included, and he wanted to know the reason for this.
Tim responded that this plant had been on the State's threatened list, but it was recently delisted. However, it was felt that this plant was still of significant interest and needed to be monitored. There are plants of Acalypha deamii along Cox Creek.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Cox Creek Hill Prairies in Cass County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 8 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-9) Wabash Co. - Marjorie J. Brines White Oak Woods Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Bob Edgin presented a proposal for the registration of Marjorie J. Brines White Oak Woods as a land and water reserve. Marjorie J. Brines proposes to register 10 acres of the 67-acre Mount's Woods Natural Area as the Marjorie J. Brines White Oak Woods Land and Water Reserve. The site was recognized by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #42) as Grade A dry-mesic upland forest. Mount's Woods Natural Area is the only privately-owned Grade A dry-mesic upland forest remaining in the Wabash Border Natural Division of Illinois.
Bob informed the Commission that Marjorie Brines has requested that timber harvest, horseback riding, bicycle riding, camping facilities, and picnic facilities not be allowed or developed on this site. She is, however, requesting that family members retain the right to do nature studies, hiking, wildlife photography, and nature observations in general. Ms. Brines is also requesting that family members have the right to hunt and trap on the property. A family member, Robert Mounts, currently hunts on this property. That tradition is not going to change. The family has been very cautious about granting public access to the property. When the original INAI was done, permission was not granted to access this site. This site was added to the INAI strictly from surveys done by walking along an adjacent road. The family members who own this tract are either at or very near retirement age, including Robert Mounts. Mr. Mounts and Ms. Brines both realize that there may come a time when Mr. Mounts will still be able to hunt, but he may not be physically able to remove the deer from the site on his own. Due to this concern, Ms. Brines requested that Mr. Mounts be allowed to use an all terrain vehicle (ATV) on a small portion of a trail in the registered land and water reserve as an access point should he need it in the future for removal of deer. Bob informed the Commission that Mr. Mounts has never used an ATV to remove an animal from the property. Since there has not been a formal survey done, there is no documentation that this trail is even on the tract that is being proposed for registration. Bob reported that he is continuing to make landowner contacts, and he is trying to secure permanent registration for all of these tracts within the natural area.
Chair Ranney stated that this is an excellent example of how an INPC staff member can work carefully with the owners of the property to tailor an agreement to what the owner really wants. This kind of approach will enable other landowners in this area to see that this program is a valuable asset.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Marjorie J. Brines White Oak Woods in Wabash County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 9 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-10) Calhoun Co. - Jennings Family Hill Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Jennings Family Hill Prairie as a nature preserve. This 34.8-acre parcel in Calhoun County contains Grade A loess hill prairie, Grade A limestone cliff community, and Grade C mesic and dry-mesic upland forest. The hill prairie and limestone cliff are listed on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1227). The hill prairie is home to conservative species such as bluehearts (Buchnera americana), Indian plantain (Cacalia plantaginea), and leadplant (Amorpha canescens). The state-threatened timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) has also been known to inhabit the property. The site has been enrolled in the Illinois Natural Heritage Landmark program since 1988. If approved for dedication, Jennings Family Hill Prairie will be the first Nature preserve in Calhoun County, and the first hill prairie in the Driftless Section of the Middle Mississippi Border Natural Division to be legally protected in perpetuity. Commissioner Fraker stated that it is significant to have this as the first dedication in Calhoun County.
It was moved by Pierce, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Jennings Family Hill Prairie in Calhoun County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-11) Kane Co. - Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow as a nature preserve. The proposed Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve is a wetland complex owned by Ms. Patricia Hemmer Braddock, Mr. David Hemmer, and Mr. Joseph Hemmer. The wetland complex consists of three wetland basins that serve as the headwaters of the South Branch of the Kishwaukee River and Coon Creek. The two wetland basins included in this proposal for dedication are referred to as Hemmer #1 (15.8 acres) and Hemmer #2 (16.2 acres) totaling 32 acres. In 1996, these wetlands were included on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1519) for recognition of extant high-quality fen and sedge meadow wetland communities. Although this wetland complex was only recently included on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, noted and respected botanists have long considered the Hemmer wetland complex a significant natural area. Since the Hemmers' great grandfather, George Hemmer Sr., homesteaded the property in 1842, the proposed Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve has remained in the Hemmer Family for four generations. The current generation of Hemmers also have a strong attachment for the land and have supported management activities for several years.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow in Kane County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-12)Will Co. - Addition of Buffer to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Brian Reilly presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve. Messenger Woods Nature Preserve is a 407-acre natural area owned by the Forest Preserve District of Will County. A large portion of Messenger Woods was identified by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #884) as a Category I ecological area due to the occurrence of grade B dry-mesic upland forest and grades A and B mesic upland forest. Portions of the natural area identified by the INAI extend onto private property surrounding the Nature preserve. Anthony and Mary Pragovich own 5.1 acres of the original natural area. The Pragovichs are interested in habitat conservation and are aware of the role their property serves in buffering and preserving the intact mesic upland forest community adjacent to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve. Mr. and Mrs. Pragovich are proposing to dedicate approximately 2.75 acres of their property as nature preserve buffer.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve in Will County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-13) Will Co. - Vermont Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Forest Preserve District of Will County (FPDWC), Brian Reilly and Dr. Robert Betz presented a proposal for reiteration of preliminary approval for the dedication of Vermont Cemetery Prairie as a nature preserve. Vermont Cemetery Prairie is one acre in size and is located in northwest Will County. The Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1080) identified the site as one acre of Grade A dry-mesic prairie. This represents more than 10% of all of Illinois' Grade A dry-mesic prairie. Among the native plant species growing in Vermont Cemetery are the federally-threatened and state-endangered Mead's milkweed (Asclepias meadii) and the state-threatened Hill's thistle (Cirsium hillii). In 1983, the prairie received preliminary approval to be dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve, Resolution #772. Final approval was never requested because legal title was not clean. The FPDWC accepted clean title to the property in 1998.
Chair Ranney informed the Commission that Dr. Robert Betz was a professor at Northeastern University, and he was one of the fathers of the natural areas movement in Illinois. He started the systematic survey of old country cemeteries to find prairie remnants. He is also the recipient of the Natural Areas Association's George Fell Award. This is the highest award for natural areas professionals nationally.
Dr. Betz reported on his history of contact with the Vermont Cemetery. On August 7, 1961, he was walking along the railroad looking at the degraded prairie along the tracks. He looked down the road, and he saw a fenced area containing prairie plants. There were white tombstones. He was very excited to see this. He found it was a presettlement prairie. This was a piece of ground from the past, and represented the way Illinois was before settlement. It was his first experience with a cemetery prairie. He then began looking at cemeteries throughout the State. The farmer had burned this area occasionally. No mowing had been done. Most of the cemeteries that have been dedicated were mowed lawns. In 1961, he took over the care of the cemetery. He made a presentation in 1965 before the Commission about these cemeteries being some of the last good prairies in Illinois. Out of the 825 cemeteries that he looked at, he found 30 of them that were prairies worthy of preservation. There were another 15 which were savanna cemeteries.
Dr. Betz reported that there is a cultivated field around the cemetery. This particular cemetery stands approximately a foot or more above the level of the surrounding land. Almost all the land has been eroded away in the field. The topsoil in this area is Saybrook silt loam. A layer of this soil goes down approximately a foot and a half. There is no evidence of a plow line in the cemetery. The cemetery was founded in approximately 1840, and it was built on the open prairie. There are two steps going up into the cemetery because of the erosion that has occurred around the boundary of the cemetery. This is the original surface. The virgin ground found at the site is rare in Illinois.
In September, 1970, there was a certain amount of littering and vandalism to the tombstones. The cemetery was fenced to prevent the vandalism. Before the fence was erected, several of the tombstones were stolen.
Dr. Betz reported that burning of the cemetery takes approximately five minutes, and the burning has been done approximately 25 times out of the 37 years he has been caring for the cemetery. The burning results in a clean cover, and the plants flourish in the spring. There are 74 species of plants in this cemetery. There are almost no weeds in this prairie.
Dr. Betz stated that Vermont Cemetery Prairie should be dedicated as a nature preserve because it is one of the finest prairies in Illinois. There are 74 different species, including lead plant, prairie clover, prairie drop-seed grass, gentian, hoary puccoon, phlox, and heart-leaved golden Alexander. It is a rich piece of ground. Many of the larger prairies have been degraded to a certain extent. This prairie harbors genetic diversity. These plants are slightly different genetically. In the future, enrichment of other prairies can be done by using small amounts of seeds from the Vermont Cemetery Prairie. The third important feature of this prairie is the virgin soil. There are various kinds of micro organisms in the soil. Some of the prairie species do not do well in the agricultural soils. It is suspected that these plants need the symbiotic organisms, and these organisms are in the soil at Vermont Cemetery Prairie. Dr. Betz felt that this prairie could be used as a standard of comparison.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that it is difficult to maintain a small natural area, especially when there is no buffer to the area. She asked Dr. Betz how the quality is maintained in these small areas and are there lessons for other pieces of property that are of equally high value where the surrounding land use is not optimal.
Dr. Betz responded that when it comes to the prairie plants, the prairie is a closed community. It is interesting to watch when one begins to take care of a prairie. When there are dandelions and surrounding weeds, the prairie will begin to close them out after management and prescribed burning is started. Prairies must be maintained with fire and management. However, he did note that the insect population is not there because of the small size of the cemetery.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants reiteration of preliminary approval for the dedication of Vermont Cemetery Prairie in Will County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
Chair Ranney asked that the Commission's thanks be conveyed to the Forest Preserve District of Will County for getting this dedication back on track.
Brian Reilly pointed out that Marcy DeMauro of the Forest Preserve District of Will County was present at the meeting.
162-14) Cook Co. - Addition to Gensburg-Markham Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval 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 on August 1, 1983 (Resolution #750), 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.
It was moved by Fraker, 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 14 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-15) Cook Co. - Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of Paintbrush Prairie as a nature preserve. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission conferred preliminary approval for the dedication of a 60-acre parcel known as Paintbrush Prairie at its 145th Meeting on October 25, 1994 (Resolution #1248). At the Commission's 148th Meeting on August 1, 1995 (Resolution #1281), the Commission conferred preliminary approval for the dedication of a key 8-acre addition. More recently, an additional 10.1 acres was conferred preliminary approval as an addition to Paintbrush Prairie at the Commission's 161st Meeting on October 27, 1998 (Resolution #1445). To date, none have received final approval for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The instrument of dedication prepared for this agenda item will provide for final approval of approximately 68 acres of Paintbrush Prairie which was granted preliminary approval at the Commission's 145th and 148th Meetings. The final addition granted preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 161st Meeting is not included in this instrument of dedication because The Nature Conservancy has not yet closed on this tract of land because the landowner now wishes to include an additional two acres in the purchase agreement. 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-threatened 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.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-16) Henry Co. - Mineral Marsh Nature Preserve, Dedication
The dedication proposal for Mineral Marsh Nature Preserve was deferred to the May 4, 1999, meeting.
162-17) LaSalle Co. - Lower Fox River - Wedron Palisades Nature Preserve, Dedication
Brian Reilly presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Lower Fox River - Wedron Palisades as a nature preserve. The Wedron Silica Company proposes to dedicate a one-mile long sandstone cliff on the east bank of the Fox River as the Lower Fox River - Wedron Palisades Nature Preserve. This rock wall is one of 14 natural areas along the lower Fox River. The palisades were identified on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #676) due to the occurrence on the edge of the cliff of the state-threatened northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis). The lower Fox River is a high-quality natural area because of the abundance of plants, animals and geologic features surrounding the River. The River was identified on the INAI (#1444) as an "outstanding example of the rivers and creeks of the Illinois River watershed." The lower Fox River provides habitat for the state-endangered greater redhorse (Moxostoma valenciennesi), and the state-threatened river redhorse (M. carinatum). INPC conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 160th Meeting on August 4, 1998, (Resolution #1431).
Chair Ranney asked Brian how far the mining was from the Nature Preserve.
Brian responded that the mining will take place directly behind the Nature Preserve. Essentially, there is a 100-foot wide strip of land that the INPC is trying to protect. Outside the Nature Preserve, there will be another 200 feet that will be the mining company's zone for a road to operate equipment. The mining will most likely be approximately 300 feet from the river's edge.
Chair Ranney asked if this is what the current managers of the company now see as their buffer, even if it is not a legal buffer.
Brian responded that this was correct. Mining could take place right up to the Nature Preserve. Currently the mining company is stating that this will not happen. The design plan needs a road, an area of impact, in order to conduct the mining operation. This area contains the finest silica sand in the world.
Chair Ranney suggested that the mining company be contacted to see if they would put their plans for the buffer into an Illinois nature preserve buffer. She asked Brian if the mining company could continue to do everything they want in this area if it was an Illinois nature preserve buffer. Brian stated he would check into this.
It was moved by Burton, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Lower Fox River - Wedron Palisades Nature Preserve in LaSalle County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
Chair Ranney stated that it may be appropriate to contact the newspapers to give the mining company some positive publicity. Brian stated that he would be contacting the newspapers at the request of the mining company. He stated that he was also working on possibly getting some publicity in a professional mining magazine as an example of how a company that is typically known for extracting the resources can also preserve the resources at the same time. Chair Ranney asked Brian to keep the Commission informed on this publicity.
David Monk asked if once the mining has ceased, will the seeds of the plants in the Nature Preserve float over into the other areas and help revegetate it. Brian responded that he has looked at other pits that this mining company has had, and this particular company has just recently won a national award for one of the best reclamations of a silica sand pit. At the award site, there are reports of river otters breeding in a stream that feeds into this pit and feeds into the Fox River. Those reports are unconfirmed, but people have seen them. Restoration may be possible.
162-18) Marshall Co. - Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dedication
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. Owned by Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve is an approximately 1.26-acre tract (lot #117) within the 78-acre Hopewell Estates Hill Prairies Natural Area (INAI #231). It is located along the Illinois River bluffs about 18 miles northeast of Peoria in Marshall County in the Village of Hopewell. On October 27, 1998, at the Commission's 161st Meeting, preliminary approval was granted for the dedication of approximately 0.74 acres on an adjacent lot (#116) as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve (Resolution #1448). Emiko Yang is the owner of lot #116. Restoration management of high quality glacial drift hill prairie and upland woodlands at the site has already included extensive brush cutting and prescribed burning. An on-going plant survey is being conducted, with assistance from a Wildlife Preservation Fund grant, to monitor long-term trends. The staff of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission recommends 0.74 acres at lot #116 in the Village of Hopewell be granted final approval as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve in Marshall County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 18 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
Chair Ranney asked Tom to convey the Commission's thanks to Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang.
162-19) Update on Protection of Prairies on Railroad Rights-of-Way
Brian Reilly updated the Commission on the protection of prairies on railroad rights-of-way. Brian stated that he has been in the process of preserving prairies on active railroad rights-of-way. This came about after a Commission meeting approximately two years ago when there were threats to some prairies along active rights-of-way. The Commission asked that the INPC staff investigate this. At that time, it was decided that one of the best ways to try to preserve these prairies was to first identify all the prairies on the active lines; then approach the railroad companies with requests to preserve the prairies on the lines, as opposed to having each Commission staff member approach an individual railroad company several times for several different prairies. The Commission felt that it would be better for one person to approach the railroad company to protect the prairies that are significant to that company. Brian reported that other Commission staff members have contributed to this effort. Brian showed the Commissioners a map which was color coded. The red dots represented prairies on active railroad lines. The green dots represented preserved railroad prairies. The yellow dots represented prairies on abandoned railroad lines. The prairies on the abandoned lines are preserved by purchasing the prairie or arranging to have it dedicated. The active lines are more difficult to protect and manage because there are still trains running on the line. Several of the railroad companies have been contacted. Some of the prairies on the map designated with the blue circle around them are prairies that the Commission staff are actively working on. The other ones are other railroad companies that have not been approached yet or are not interested in working with the Commission. Many of these are owned by the Illinois Central Railroad, which is currently in the process of merging with the Canadian National Railroad. Once the merger is completed, it is hoped that they will come back to the Commission to discuss the protection of these prairie remnants. Union Pacific Railroad Company was also difficult to contact. However, the State of Minnesota has taken a similar approach to protect the prairies on their active railroad lines, and they are making great progress with the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Information has been exchanged with Minnesota, and hopefully this contact will benefit the Commission when dealing with Union Pacific Railroad. The Commission has a good relationship with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Work is also being done with the CSX Corporation. The CSX Corporation has eight prairies on their lines in the southern part of the state. Bob Edgin made the original contact, and Mary Kay Solecki followed up on that.
Brian summarized by stating that progress has been made, but he hopes to continue to work toward further protection of the prairie remnants along the railroad lines. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad was ready to sign an agreement to preserve approximately 13 prairies which included over 35 miles of inventoried prairie. That same day, IDNR sent them an annual bill for $135 for a bridge crossing near the I & M Canal. The representative from the railroad company contacted Brian to say that if the $135 fee was waived, they would preserve the 35 miles of prairie. IDNR's auditors were not able to make a determination if funds could be shared from the I & M Canal to the Division of Natural Heritage. Due to the bureaucracy, this matter has been stalled. This issue came about within the last week and a half, but an attempt will be made to waive the bill on a permanent basis.
Chair Ranney thanked Brian for his presentation and for following up with the Commission's request for this information. She also thanked the field staff for their contribution to this project.
Commissioner Fraker asked Brian how complete the current list of 88 identified prairies was.
Brian reported that there are several railroad prairies that have not been identified. Brian requested that a map be sent to him with the area of prairie designated on the map, along with a small description of the area. He would then proceed with the proper contacts.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked what Brian is asking the railroad companies to do. She also asked if the request to the railroad companies was to agree to manage the prairie property or to dedicate the prairie.
Brian reported that the railroad companies do not want to dedicate the prairie because that is a permanent release of their rights. The railroad companies perceive that they need this right-of-way to buffer their property. This right-of-way is occasionally used by the railroad company when they change ties. The old ties will be placed on the right-of-way. The railroad companies have been asked to sign a modified NHL agreement which allows INPC and IDNR to enter the property and manage the property as a natural area. They are asked not to harm the property. In their general course of practice, the railroad companies spray the rights-of-way to keep the weeds and vegetation down. They are asked not to spray the property with herbicides. Signs are placed at either end of the NHL to alert people to turn off the sprayer so these areas do not get sprayed. In order to keep the weeds controlled, staff of IDNR or INPC burn the property and keep the trees from obstructing the tracks.
Commissioner Fraker suggested that this may be a wonderful opportunity for the railroad companies to receive publicity.
Brian responded that some of the railroad companies like the positive publicity, but others do not want any publicity. The railroad companies are very aware of people visiting their property, and they are concerned about the possible liability issues. If companies request publicity, the media will be contacted.
162-20) Edgar Co. - Baber Woods Nature Preserve, Authorization to Sell or Barter Wood Products Removed from the Nature Preserve During a Restoration Project
On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, Vern LaGesse presented a proposal to obtain authorization to sell or barter wood products removed from the Baber Woods Nature Preserve during a restoration project. Baber Woods, an approximately 50-acre old growth remnant of dry-mesic upland forest owned by The Nature Conservancy, is dedicated as a nature preserve to protect the old growth oak-hickory forest. This forest has experienced a vast increase in sugar maples over the past 33 or more years. The increase has been accompanied by a striking decrease in oak and hickories. Proposed management calls for restoring ecological conditions to allow increased oak and hickory reproduction and survival. This includes controlling sugar maple invasion by cutting and removing or girdling up to 80% of sugar maple stems. The Nature Conservancy proposes to allow a contractor to cut and remove much or most of the sugar maple invasion. The Nature Conservancy wishes to either sell or barter the logs to a contractor who will use the logs for wood products.
Commissioner Ellis asked what type of management has occurred at this site.
John Ebinger reported that he and others have been mainly studying the change. They have tried not to do much management because they wanted to see what was going to happen. The area has changed so much in the last 35 years that it is at the point now where the oak and hickory forest has been lost. If something is not done now, it will be totally gone. It will become a sugar maple forest and there will be no more oaks or hickories. This area was originally protected because it was a typical example of an oak and hickory forest. That has completely changed now, and something has to be done to save this area. There is no oak reproduction now and very few hickories are able to make it under these circumstances. Even though there is no other alternative to this situation, it is upsetting to Dr. Ebinger that this type of management was going to take place.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that this is a distressing proposal; however, there is something that can be learned from this for the management of other preserves that may have similar management problems. She wanted to know if there could have been some earlier intervention that may have not been as dramatic as what is being proposed.
John Ebinger reported that a small amount of burning was tried, but burning could not resolve the problem. Sugar maples continued to shade everything else out. Species diversity has been reduced to one-fourth of what it was 35 years ago. An intent study has been done because we want to be able to document any changes after this major change. It is necessary to get the logs out of the Nature Preserve so the area can be routinely burned. A fire cannot take place there with the big logs because the fire would be so hot it would sterilize the soil and destroy the seed bank in the soil.
Randy Heidorn stated that the control of sugar maples in oak hickory forests is a fairly standard practice in the management of nature preserves across the State. It is recognized and incorporated in most management schedules for those communities. The real difference here, and the reason it was brought to the Commission's attention, is because of the sale or barter of a commodity off of the nature preserve itself.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that generally fire is the tool that is used.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that this very traditional method of management seems like it should have been in place over the years at this site, and she questioned why it was not done.
Randy responded that the way the Commission works, in terms of the management of areas, is that a framework is set up within which a landowner can work. However, the Commission is not in a position to demand that a landowner do a specific kind of management on a property. It can be brought to the landowner's attention, but it is the landowner's choice during a period of time not to do certain activities. There are landowners that look at various kinds of management techniques as not being acceptable to them. As a matter of course, the Commission and staff respect those requests. This issue of how to manage a specific nature preserve is based on parameters discussed with the landowner, but the landowner ultimately makes the decision on what happens as long as they are within those parameters.
Mary Kay Solecki stated that due to time and schedule constraints, it is difficult for field staff to do the management activities. Since there is a shortage of time for the Commission staff, volunteer stewards are needed to do these management activities and often they are not available.
Commissioner Ellis stated that this is the true shortcoming of the nature preserves system. The shortcoming is that the Commission is charged with trying to, as rapidly as possible, preserve valuable resources that are quickly disappearing. The amount of emphasis put toward management of nature preserves may not be given a high enough priority, and this needs to be increased either in dollars or in staff to take care of managing these areas once protected.
Bill McClain addressed the issue of management of Baber Woods Nature Preserve. He stated that even in 1965 it was too late for this Nature Preserve. In his opinion, the issue relates to one change since the settlement of this area by the pioneers, and that issue is the lack of fire. In Baber Woods there are different age cohorts of oaks. There is an age cohort that coincides with the settlement of the area. A similar forest was studied in Hamilton County that had an age cohort that coincides with the settlement of the area. What is seen in Baber Woods is an increase in fire intolerant species. They have proliferated. In this instance it is the sugar maple, but it could be black cherry or hickories. The increase in mesic species and the lack of reproduction of the dominant species for the site, which in this case is white oak, is the problem. It all began with the lack of fire. Back in 1965, no one thought of burning woodlands as a management tool. This practice has evolved over time. The oak leaves make the best fuel for burning, but the sugar maple leaves are wet. The sugar maples essentially create their own firebreak. The maples and other mesic species are there and have been well established for many years. This management is now an effort to address this issue. The cutting of sugar maples has wide implications for management of these oak hickory forests, not only in Illinois, but throughout the midwest. Management information will be learned from this management, and the information will be used at other sites. Baber Woods is one of many sites that has this problem.
Steven Byers asked if TNC included a monitoring program with this management protocol that would help us learn and document the response of the plant community.
Vern LaGesse responded that TNC has done a systematic re-inventory to try to re-establish a baseline, and they plan to do it again. TNC has been working with the Natural History Survey to study nesting birds, snails, fungi, salamanders, and insects. Everything has been studied to see what impact this scale of restoration has. This is a learning opportunity that could not be found anywhere else.
Chair Ranney stated that she felt comfortable with this because it has been thoroughly studied, and it is being treated as a learning opportunity. It may have national significance because it is an issue that occurs in several areas due to the lack of regular fire. This issue is also being presented to the Commission, and it not being decided at staff level at staff suggestion. Even though the measure is drastic, she personally felt it should be approved.
After a short discussion, it was determined that there needed to be two resolutions dealing with this issue, one to address the general issue of the sale or barter of natural products from a nature preserve, and another to address the specific issue involving Baber Woods Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
There shall be no harvesting or taking of natural products for sale or barter from a nature preserve without prior Commission approval.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Pierce, Burton opposed, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants authority for the restoration effort of Baber Woods Nature Preserve with authorization to sell or barter wood products removed from the Nature Preserve during the restoration project, as described under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 162nd Meeting.
162-21) 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. The cleanup of asbestos along the road in the south end of the Nature Preserve was started in December, 1998. Johns Manville employed an asbestos contractor to manually remove the asbestos containing material from the road. This entailed freeing the pieces of transite pipe and other material by hand that had been used to create a roadbed. The pickup effort was put on hold the first weekend of January, 1999, due to the heavy snow storm. By that time, a majority of the work had been completed. It is anticipated that the pickup will be completed in the spring of 1999. In conjunction with this cleanup, IEPA and IDNR sent out some crews that collected samples from the roadbed to determine the extent and composition of this material and to look for additional contaminants that may be present in the road. After the hand cleanup is finished and the test results are known, IEPA, IDNR, Johns Manville, and Commission staff will meet to develop a final remediation plan for the site. It is anticipated that this plan will call for periodic hand pickups, similar to what was just done, to collect material being brought to the surface by frost heave. Institutional controls that restrict people from digging in that area, which is a closed area of the Nature Preserve, are in place. It will also have some level of monitoring. The Commission will be updated on the final remediation plan for that site.
Another issue of concern is the asbestos that is present in the beach sand. Last year, IDNR did an extensive study and looked at the sand in the beach area to determine whether or not this was a health risk. After collecting the data, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) determined that the asbestos containing material and the beach itself was not an asbestos risk. There was no health risk involved. There was, however, some concern and question in terms of how the sand on the beach would be handled since it contained this asbestos containing material. IDNR asked then IEPA Director Mary Gade for guidance. Director Gade replied, in a letter to Director Manning, that the sand would be considered an industrial process waste for regulatory purpose. This has some serious implications on beach nourishment. Erosion has been a constant problem at Illinois Beach. IDNR's approach has been to allow the sand to move down the beach, by wave action, to the southern end, then move it back to the north. This activity needs to be continued to maintain the communities that are present at the site. It has been documented that as much as 50 feet of beach could be eroded in one night with a northeastern windstorm. Because of the determination from IEPA, discussions have been initiated again to determine how the sand movement can be maintained and continue the beach nourishment program at the site. INPC staff have been working with IDNR, IDPH, the Attorney General's office, and IEPA to ensure the regulatory issues, the public health issues, the environmental issues, and the protection of the Nature preserve are balanced equally. Randy stated he would keep the Commission informed of future developments.
162-22) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
There was no public comment.
162-23) Other Business
There was no other business discussed.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by O'Keefe, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.