170-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:20 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair O'Keefe, the meeting began.
Carolyn Grosboll gave the roll call.
Members present: Jill Allread, Dianne Burton, Guy Fraker, Joyce O'Keefe, Lorin Nevling, and John Schwegman.
Members absent: Jonathan Ellis, Vicky Ranney, and Michael Schneiderman.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Loretta Arient, Steven Byers, Bob Edgin, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Tammie McKay, Angella Moorehouse, Kelly Neal, John Nelson, Debbie Newman, Kim Roman, and Mary Kay Solecki, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Brent Manning, Director, and Jim Garner, Deputy Director, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Jennifer Aherin, Bob Gottfried, Fran Harty, Neal Rankin, Eric Smith, Todd Strole, Bob Szafoni, and John Wilker, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), IDNR; Glen Kruse, Bill McClain, Patti Malmborg Reilly, and Brian Reilly, Division of Natural Heritage, IDNR; Keith Shank, Division of Natural Resource Review and Coordination, IDNR; Carl Becker, Office of Realty and Environmental Planning, IDNR; Brenda Potts, Constituency Services, IDNR; Sue Lauzon, Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB); Sue Dees, George Rose, and Barbara Traeger, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society and INPC Consultant; Dale Goodner, Matt Finch and Mike Miller, Peoria Park District; Al Wilson, Lake in the Hills Fen Volunteer Steward; Roger Beadles, representing Beadles Barrens Nature Preserve; David Monk, Educational Resources in Environmental Sciences (ERES); Doris Westfall, representing Doris Westfall Prairie Nature Preserve and Vermilion County Conservation District.
170-2) Adoption of Agenda
Carolyn Grosboll stated that a correction was needed on the numbering of items on the Agenda. The Agenda contained two item 21s. Items 22-25 need to be renumbered. Item 11, Addition to Little Vermilion River Land and Water Reserve, Registration, will be postponed until later on the Agenda.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Burton, and carried that the Agenda, as amended, be adopted.
170-3) Approval of Minutes of 169th Meeting, October 31, 2000
It was moved by Burton, seconded by Allread and carried that the Minutes of the 169th INPC Meeting, October 31, 2000, be approved.
Chair O'Keefe stated that at the 169th Meeting of the INPC, held at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton on October 31, 2000, legal protection for four tracts of land, totaling 337 acres, was approved by the Commission. Two of these four areas are owned by private individuals. The dollar value of these two tracts of private land, based on conservative estimates of the fair market value of the land, is $267,000. This private land was permanently preserved without acquisition of the land by the State. Private lands protected without State acquisition at the 169th Meeting of the INPC included Edgewood Farm, 156 acres in Champaign and Vermilion counties, and the P & E Refuge, 33 acres in Saline County. A total of 189 acres of private land was protected. Protection of this land came about because the Commission has nine field staff working with private landowners. There are now 296 dedicated nature preserves in 78 counties, totaling 39,040 acres. There are 52 land and water reserves in 35 counties, totaling 19,800 acres. Chair O'Keefe congratulated the staff and all the landowners who have been so dedicated in their work to preserve this land.
170-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Carolyn stated that a correction needs to be made to the meeting dates. When the meeting list was approved at the 169th Meeting of the INPC, an incorrect date of October 25, 2001, was given. The correct date is October 30, 2001. The following is a listing of meeting dates for 2001.1 May - Giant City State Park, Makanda, Illinois
170-5) Election of Consultant
Carolyn reported that at the 169th Meeting of the INPC, Commissioner Ranney proposed the nomination of an additional consultant to the Commission. It was decided to delay the vote until the 170th Meeting. Commissioner Ranney wrote a letter to Carolyn on November 20, 2000, requesting the nomination of John White as a consultant to the Commission. Carolyn stated that she had the opportunity to talk with John White, and he is willing to serve as a consultant. He was pleased to have been asked. Mr. White sent a note saying that he would be unable to attend the 170th Meeting, but that he would be happy to serve as a consultant if he was elected.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that he has known John White for a long time, and there are only a few people that have had the level of impact on natural area preservation in Illinois that Jack has had. He feels that Jack has a lot to offer the Commission.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the John White be elected as a consultant to the INPC.
170-6) Natural Areas Acquisition Fund Fiscal Year 2001 Land Acquisition Proposals
Brian Reilly stated that the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF), is a fund that the IDNR uses to buy high-quality natural areas and habitat for endangered and threatened species. Many natural areas acquired by the Department later become dedicated nature preserves or registered land and water reserves. A few years ago, the INPC accepted the responsibility of making recommendations to the IDNR about which lands should be acquired using the NAAF. As part of this responsibility, the INPC passed a resolution which states that areas identified on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI), that currently buffer INAI sites, or buffer nature preserves could be approved by the INPC Director as additions to the INPC recommended Natural Areas Acquisition List. Lands that do not buffer natural areas, are not on the INAI, and that do not buffer a nature preserve or land and water reserve must come to the INPC for further approval or recommendation. Brian stated that this is the case for the site before the INPC today. There are a series of tracts of land at Lake Carlyle in Clinton County that the IDNR is looking at for acquisition. Lake Carlyle contains a population of endangered eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake is an Illinois endangered species which needs protected habitat in order to survive. To accomplish this, the IDNR needs to purchase lands that are near the existing populations of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. The South Shore area at Carlyle Lake is the largest and most viable population of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in Illinois. In order to preserve and encourage the survival of the eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, the IDNR has decided that the habitat needs to be enlarged in the South Shore area at Carlyle Lake. This area is not on the INAI, although it would qualify because of the presence of the endangered species. The IDNR has initiated landowner contact with several landowners along the South Shore area of Carlyle Lake to find willing sellers. A recommendation from the Commission is requested, assuming a willing seller is found in this area, for the IDNR to purchase property in the South Shore area and restore it to eastern massasauga rattlesnake habitat.
Commissioner Fraker asked if this expansion of habitat relates in any way to the proposal to build a lodge at Carlyle Lake.
Brian stated that there is currently a proposal to build cabins at the Carlyle Lake area. The South Shore area is near the vicinity of the proposed cabins. The land that the IDNR would be acquiring would be for habitat for the snakes themselves.
Carl Becker stated that the South Shore area is where the lodge is proposed, and part of the environmental assessment that was done for that particular project identified the need to acquire additional land to restore habitat to protect the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.
Brian stated that the South Shore area that has been identified is broad. It relates to the south end of Carlyle Lake.
Carl stated that South Shore State Park is an area that IDNR manages for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and is located at the southeast corner of Carlyle Lake. The proposal presented today involves the identification of willing landowners along that area to be able to expand the habitat for an endangered species.
Commissioner Schwegman asked if the tracts being acquired with NAAF funds are immediately adjacent to occupied habitat, or will they be wherever willing sellers are found.
Brian stated that the Illinois Natural History Survey and the IDNR have identified priority tracts. These are the tracts most likely to be populated by the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. These areas will be targeted first. Some are directly adjacent to existing habitat, and some may be a tract removed.
Brian stated that the total acreage would not be known until a willing seller is found. Some money has currently been programmed to buy this land. If more than one seller is found, the IDNR will program more money in order to accommodate purchasing both tracts.
Chair O'Keefe ask, how many acres does the Department need to acquire in order to have an effective restoration effort?
Brian stated that he was not able to answer this.
Glen Kruse stated that he was not aware of anyone that has attempted to come up with a number like that. There is a population there now, and it appears to be a healthy population. It is hoped that this acquisition would expand the available habitat and make the existing population more secure. The biggest threat to this population that has been identified so far is road kill. The areas being considered would not have roads between the existing population and the anticipated acquisitions. In that sense it would be more secure habitat than some of the existing portions of the park.
Commissioner Nevling asked if the lodge is scheduled to be built within current habitat.
Carl stated that the proposed site for the lodge has no record of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. The lodge is located at the closest point to the Illinois Route 50. It is located in the best spot possible as far as the rattlesnake is concerned. These areas that are being proposed for acquisition are closer to the interior and are more distant from the lodge location.
Commissioner Nevling stated that he would be interested in having the Department acquire as much property as possible with the available funds in order to expand viable habitat for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the proposed addition of tracts of land at the South Shore area of Carlyle Lake to the Natural Areas Acquisition List as described in the proposal presented under Item 6 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
170-7) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll updated the Commission on the Art Institute of Chicago's plans to auction approximately 5,000 acres of land adjacent to Allerton Park near Monticello, Illinois on November 29, 2000. The Commission passed a resolution at its 169th Meeting for Chair O'Keefe to send a letter to Governor Ryan urging the State to acquire some of the high-quality parcels owned by the Art Institute. A letter was sent to Governor Ryan in early November.
Prior to the November 29th auction, officials at the University of Illinois (U of I) were able to pre-acquire approximately 641 acres of high quality land that were of greatest interest to the Commission. This acreage is located adjacent to the park. Commissioner Fraker, on behalf of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), was instrumental in working with the U of I to ensure the completion of this acquisition. The acquired property protects 1.5 miles of the Sangamon River, helps protect the largest great blue heron rookery in east-central Illinois, preserves a 285-acre block of forest along the Sangamon River, expands the protected habitat for five state-listed species, and protects an INAI site. This addition connects the main park to a 158-acre satellite parcel, increasing the size of this significant ecosystem by 53%. The remainder of the property was auctioned on November 29, 2000. John and Jim Linville, farmers from central Ohio, purchased 2,005 acres. They intend to move their farming operations to central Illinois. Don Kelly, a Chicago investor, purchased the remaining 2,171 acres which will remain as farmland.
Carolyn updated the Commission regarding Black Beauty Coal Company's plans to build an underground mining facility two miles upstream of Carl Fliermans' River Nature Preserve in Vermilion County. Both the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) issued permits to the coal company at the end of last year. Both permits include conditions designed to reduce or eliminate impacts to the Little Vermilion River and Carl Fliermans' River Nature Preserve. Baseline biological monitoring is required in both permits. The monitoring protocol was established by aquatic experts at the Illinois Natural History Survey. Sampling locations and sampling frequency are also established in the permit conditions. If sampling indicates the occurrence of an adverse impact, it would be considered a violation of the permit. Tentative plans are that the IEPA will conduct its own annual biological monitoring of fish and mussels at the same sampling stations that Black Beauty is required to monitor. The IEPA may also sample macro-invertebrate organisms, which Black Beauty is not required to monitor in their permits.
The Office of Mines and Minerals Permit and the IEPA permit included all of the important items that the Commission requested. Even though we continue to be concerned that Carl Fliermans' River Nature Preserve and the Little Vermilion River may be negatively impacted, we are pleased that the baseline monitoring and periodic sampling of fish and mussels are required. Appeals regarding both of these permits have been filed with the IEPA and the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals. The IDNR appeal process will be an in-house hearing, and the IEPA appeal goes to the Pollution Control Board. The Commission will continue to monitor this situation.
Chair O'Keefe asked if the Commission will be asked to present evidence or testify in any of the hearings.
Carolyn stated that no request has been made to date. She stated that it was her understanding that the Prairie Rivers Network is taking the lead on both of those appeals. Several local citizen groups have also made appeals.
Chair O'Keefe stated that since these groups are making the appeal, would the Pollution Control Board ordinarily bring in someone like the INPC to offer testimony independently.
Carolyn stated that it was her understanding that the Pollution Control Board may be limited to the information that is presented in a particular appeal. They do not necessarily seek outside information or counsel on how to rule on a particular matter.
Carolyn stated that the United Stated Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that will impact the way wetlands are protected by the USACE. The case involved a proposed solid waste disposal site located near Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in suburban Cook County. The USACE determined in the late 1980s that it had jurisdiction over the site because of migratory bird use, which was an old strip mine. Ultimately the USACE denied the permit because of the impacts to the wetlands and birds. The applicants appealed in federal court, and the USACE's denial of the permit was upheld by both the District Court and the United States Appellate Court.
In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the USACE exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act when it determined it had jurisdiction over the waters within the old strip mine. The Court seemed to say that the USACE's authority over non-navigable, isolated and intrastate waters would be the most impacted by their decision. It was decided that the USACE does not have jurisdiction over those types of areas. Their authority under the Clean Water Act was limited to navigable waters, interstate waters, tributaries of interstate waters and navigable waters, and wetlands adjacent to each of those. In this situation, it was an intrastate water that was not a navigable water, and it was not a tributary of an interstate water or a navigable water. The group of suburban municipalities that want to build this landfill are still interested in putting a landfill at this site. The Commission is continuing to monitor this situation to ensure that Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve is not impacted.
Carolyn stated that in early January, 2001, the IDNR acquired 16 acres of buffer adjacent to Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve in suburban Westchester. The IDNR paid $4.5 million for the property using a combination of Open Land Trust (OLT) Fund moneys and NAAF moneys. This area had been targeted for a magnet school building. The Commission is extremely pleased with the quick acquisition of the property by IDNR. Tom Flattery, IDNR Office Director for Realty and Environmental Planning, was very creative in getting this property acquired. Governor Ryan and Senator Tom Walsh were very supportive of this acquisition. Chair O'Keefe sent letters to both of them expressing the Commission's appreciation. Chair O'Keefe also sent a letter to Director Manning to thank him for his support and to recognize the efforts of Tom Flattery in seeing Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve further protected.
Carolyn stated that she was pleased to report that the IDNR purchased 66.3 acres adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve (Fen). This was the property that had been slated for mining by Material Service Corporation (MSC). A combination of OLT moneys and NAAF moneys were used. This issue has been in the staff report for approximately three years, and this acquisition brings several years of discussions with MSC to an end regarding potential negative impacts that the mining would have on the Fen. Tom Flattery and IDNR Deputy Director Jim Garner were instrumental in seeing this acquisition becoming a reality. The Commission appreciates their efforts. Chair O'Keefe sent letters to Governor Ryan and Director Manning thanking them for their support.
Carolyn stated that there is another issue lingering at Lake in the Hills Fen regarding a proposed Village Hall project which would be adjacent to the Fen. John Nelson is coordinating the review of this project on behalf of the Commission and will provide an update on this issue.
John Nelson stated that the Village of Lake in the Hills is proposing to build a Village Hall on property adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. The Commission has been requested to review the consultation materials that were submitted by the Village to the IDNR consultation process. The consultation with the IDNR is required whenever a local unit of government plans or approves an action that might alter current environmental conditions. The consultation process for the Village Hall has been ongoing for at least a year. The property is approximately 67 acres in size and is located along the western boundary of Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. It is an upland recharge zone for Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. Fen communities are highly dependent upon their recharge zones for a supply of mineralized groundwater. Some of the sensitive resources on the site include a gravel hill prairie which is part of an INAI site. This gravel hill prairie contains prairie dropseed which is the host plant species for the state-listed redveined prairie leafhopper. State-listed plant species include wooly milkweed and Hill's thistle. According to Randy Locke, Illinois State Water Survey, the proposed Village Hall is within the known recharge zone for Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve.
The IDNR consultation is still ongoing, and it has reduced potential impacts to the Nature Preserve. As a result of consultation, the Village plans to infiltrate clean water back into the groundwater by collecting the clean water that falls on the roof, then infiltrate that water back into the groundwater through dry wells. Polluted water from the approach road to the building and the parking lots will be collected and contained in a stormwater detention facility. The building location has been changed five times. At one point the building was proposed to be built directly adjacent to the Nature Preserve boundary fence. Currently, the building is proposed to be located approximately 200 feet from the fence boundary. The building will be on a slab so it will not restrict groundwater flow. It was thought that a basement would restrict the groundwater flow. The exterior lighting will limit light pollution into the Nature Preserve and limit the attraction of insects. The building will be a one-story prairie style design. According to the architects, this structure will blend in with the landscape. The location of the approach road to the building avoids the prairie dropseed plants and the gravel hill prairie. Beyond what the IDNR consultation has addressed, the INPC may have further concerns. For example, there may be concerns about impacts to the groundwater. The Illinois State Geological Survey and the Illinois State Water Survey scientists have located a site on the southwest corner of the property where potential impacts to the groundwater would be minimized. The location would be directly west of the current proposed building location. The gravel hill prairie is within the INAI boundary, so there may be concerns that additional buffer is needed between the building and the gravel hill prairie and the road and the gravel hill prairie. Salt contaminants in runoff from the road could affect the prairie dropseed and thus the redveined prairie leafhopper.
The visual aesthetics of the building could have a negative impact on the Nature Preserve from the perspective of visitors coming to the site. The roof, flag poles, and exterior lights will be visible from vantage points within the Nature Preserve. This could degrade the experience that people have when they come to visit Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. This Nature Preserve is truly unique because it is large enough to give a sense of what the presettlement landscape once was, but it is completely surrounded by an urban landscape. The INPC staff will continue to document and provide recommendations to the Village if necessary.
Commissioner Burton asked about the impact of the construction itself.
John stated that this would be a concern, and the Commission would work with the Village to make sure that the sensitive areas, especially the gravel hill prairie, were properly flagged and marked.
Carolyn stated that the Commission's review resulted from a request from members of the public and the McHenry County Defenders which asked the Commission to look at the documents that were submitted to the IDNR consultation program. These documents are being reviewed, and the Village has been advised that the INPC has received these requests. Discussions will begin with them once the Commission has determined its position.
Keith Shank stated that he is responsible for the IDNR consultation process with the Village. The potential construction impacts are being reviewed, especially regarding possible compaction of the ground surface. The goal is to make sure that there are no staging areas in the important recharge zones in order to minimize the chance for spillage of chemicals. Those issues will be addressed in more detail with the Village and it is hoped that they will incorporate these protections into their contracts. He also wanted to clarify that the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act directs the IDNR to make recommendations consistent with the project going forward. The Department is not charged to oppose or second guess the actions of a local government or a state agency. The charge is to give them advice on measures to avoid or minimize adverse impacts. The
Department's goal is slightly different in character from the Commission's goal. While it is fair to state that the consultation process has been largely successful in dealing with many of these issues, under no circumstances can a consultation process guarantee that even those measures adopted will not result in some adverse impact or adverse modification to a nature preserve. There is definitely a role for the Commission to play in safeguarding the Nature Preserve as the process goes forward.
Chair O'Keefe thanked Keith for his diligence in working through the consultation process, and she feels that it is good to remind everyone of the separate roles of the IDNR and the INPC. Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve is such a prized piece of property that the public in that community has gone to referendum to protect it and has opposed the construction of the Village Hall adjacent to the Nature Preserve. It makes sense that the Commission and the IDNR takes extra care in going through this review process. The public has spoken in this case, and the Commission would be letting the public down if it left any stone unturned within its ability to protect the site.
Keith stated that he received a landscaping plan from the architect for the area immediately around the proposed Village Hall, but he is still waiting for figures from their engineers relating to the exact amount of water that is going to be captured and placed in the infiltration wells compared to the water that will be intercepted and diverted from the entrance and the parking lots. There are still issues that need to be resolved before he can close consultation.
Al Wilson, Volunteer Steward at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve, stated that he spent three and half years in Kenya touring nature preserves there. He saw what the conservation problem is, and it is a global problem. For the last 15 years he has found that it is possible for one person to make a difference in the local area. He has learned a lot about restoration and preservation, and he is very proud of what has been accomplished. He stated that without the help of the Commission and the IDNR, Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve would have been severely damaged by things that have gone on around it. An annual report of the stewardship at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve was given to each of the Commissioners. The number of people that have been involved at this site has been tremendous. The Commission has constraints imposed upon this site, but these constraints do not apply to him as an individual. He is able to act to make the public aware of the situation. Last winter they were able to get petitions signed for referendums to go on the ballot. The Village opposed this ballot issue, and held hearings until 1:30 a.m. An appeal was made to a judge because the Village Board disqualified several names on the petitions. Three referendums were then proposed, and sufficient signatures were acquired. The Village Board decided to hold an emergency meeting on a Sunday. The notice for this meeting was posted on the front door of the Village Hall Friday night. The press alerted Al to the notice. The public comment period was not on the meeting Agenda. When the meeting was called to order, the Board was asked about the public comment period. They were advised that the meeting was just an executive session. After a public outcry, it was decided to have a public comment session at the end of the executive session. Everyone was sent out into the parking lot. When the executive session was finished, they were allowed back into the building. The first words were, "I propose a motion to accept the referendum proposal as agreed in executive session." A citizen with the petitions ran to the clerk's desk, put them on the table, and insisted that the petitions be time and date stamped. They ignored her and continued with the vote. At that point one of the citizen petitions was excluded, but the remaining two were left on. The election was attended by a record turnout. The two petitions were against the Village 93% and 83% respectively. The Village has conceded that the 93% relates to another property known to Keith. They decided to have a Village Board vote on the 83% to see if they should continue to build the Village Hall on the Rothschild property as proposed or to locate somewhere else. Many people spoke on this issue, including himself. A gentlemen in his 70s told the Village Board that the public elected the Trustees to represent them, and to run the Village for them. There was a referendum on the ballot, and we had a chance to vote on this issue. Four out of five people said not to build the Village Hall at this site. He asked the Trustees what part of "no" did they not understand. Even after this discussion, the Village Board still voted to build at the proposed location. The Village bought the property for $1.9 million on a ten-year mortgage that they have paid for three years. They have learned that the money for the Village Hall, although initially tied to constructing on that property, could be transferred to another site. They have been offered an alternate 9-acre lot for $1 million. The Village turned it down, saying that they are planning to build on the Rothschild property. They have $3.5 million of bonds sitting in the bank ready for this project. They have spent money on the consultation process, which they waited 15 months to start, despite the efforts of Keith and others. The access road to their latest location, which will be 1, 500 feet long, crosses an old gravel pit where there is an approximately 30 foot drop. The cost of the road was initially estimated at $300,000, but now it is estimated at $507,000. That only accounts for one detention pond on the high ground, not for one at the bottom of the hill where the water will finally be discharged. This figure also does not account for utilities to that site, nor the stormwater removal. Immediately below the proposed building site is the gravel hill which has the redveined prairie leafhopper. Ron Panzer collected a leafhopper there which he will name. It is new to science, and it has never been found before. It takes approximately three years to circulate this species worldwide to be sure that it is not known elsewhere. Because this site has not been monitored by botanists, there is no way to know how many plants are on this site.
Chair O'Keefe stated that the INPC staff and the IDNR consultation staff will continue to do their part. She wanted to know if there were some things that the public was going to do to help move this along.
Al stated that there is tremendous public support for moving the Village Hall to another location, and there is a lot of support from the press. The Village Trustees have received a lot of adverse press. The election will be in April 3, 2001. A slate of candidates has been put together, and it is anticipated that the Village Board will change. After the election, there will be a group of Village Trustees supportive of the Nature Preserve. These candidates are doing their own campaigns, but they are called Fen Friends. The election of these people is supported by concerned citizens. The developer of the alternative Village Hall site has run against a brick wall with the planning and zoning commissioners who have thrown out their plans several times. They are now prepared to sell the 9 acres to the Village. The Village can purchase the 9 acres for $1 million and build the Village Hall there with no access road requirement and no requirement to treat stormwater runoff. This will save a tremendous amount of money, and this will be in the campaign publicity. If people can see big savings in their taxes, whatever their conservation attitudes are, they will support the savings. The only real solution to the problem is the acquisition of the land. Al has talked with the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD). Craig Hubert has contacted the Village and advised them that if they ever consider selling the Rothschild property, to contact him. Al has also talked with other government agencies and the McHenry County Defenders. He has been told that it should be possible to raise the money to purchase this site.
Chair O'Keefe stated that since the MCCD owns the property to the north, it would make sense for them to purchase this property. She was not sure how to make sure that this happens.
Al stated that he has advised the Village Board that preliminary inquiries indicate that it should be possible to find money to purchase the land. He was advised by the Board that if anyone was interested, the Board would have been contacted directly. Al then had the MCCD contact the Village Board directly. He felt that once a new Village Board was elected, this issue will be explored. He stated that he has been very active in getting the public united behind this issue.
Chair O'Keefe thanked Al for his comments, and she stated that the Commission is looking forward to him continuing the good fight. She stated that the Commission stands prepared to do anything within its authority.
Chair O'Keefe introduced Director Brent Manning and Deputy Director Jim Garner. She suggested that Items 10 and 11 be presented at this time.
(This portion of the staff report was actually presented after Item 10)
Don McFall stated that four new natural heritage landmarks were enrolled since the 169th Meeting of the INPC, and an existing landmark was enlarged. Tom Lerczak signed up Coon Hill Prairie Natural Heritage Landmark (NHL), a 2.3-acre hill prairie in Tazewell County. The owners are Gary and Robin Coon. Debbie Newman signed up Poag Railroad Prairie NHL, an 11-acre sand prairie and endangered species site in Madison County on the American Bottoms. There is very little high-quality habitat on the American Bottoms, and this helps fill a gap in protected areas in each Natural Division of Illinois. The owner of this Landmark is the Norfolk Southern Railway Company. Commissioner Ranney had asked staff to do more with the railroad natural area owners. The Commission has had a number of successes in the years since staff was challenged to do more with the railroads. Bob Edgin signed up Emma Vance Woods NHL, a 40-acre open woodland site in Crawford County owned by Lincoln Trail College. Mary Kay Solecki signed up Smith House NHL, a 4-acre endangered species site in Champaign County owned by Lynn and Edgar Smith. Bob Edgin worked with the owner of Shellbark Bottoms NHL in Lawrence County to enlarge the area. The owner agreed to expand that landmark from 210 to 465 acres. That is one of the larger natural heritage landmarks. There are now 126 landmarks, totaling nearly 6,000 acres.
Don stated that Steven Byers was asked to serve as Chair of the Chicago Wilderness Land Management Team. Chicago Wilderness is a coalition of 124 organizations garnering broad-based support for restoration and management of the 200,000 acres of public land that exists in the six-county Chicago Metro area. Don congratulated Steven on this honor.
Don reported that Kim Roman is representing the Commission in a partnership with TNC to work to protect more of the rare sand savannas and sand prairies in the Pembroke Township area of Kankakee County. TNC has developed an innovative conservation buyers program where TNC will acquire lands, place a permanent conservation easement on those lands, then resell them to the private sector. Kim is helping to identify the areas of highest ecological importance. She is also working with landowners to identify someone who would be willing to talk about a sale.
Don stated that two new publications are available. Illinois Audubon has produced a new brochure, Prairie Primer. It describes what a prairie is, and it discusses the unique prairie flora and fauna. The brochure also describes some basic prairie management techniques and urges the protection of prairies. This brochure is suitable to be given to the private landowners during landowner contact work. The brochures are available today for anyone that is interested.
The Natural History Survey has produced The Butterflies of Illinois. Brochures are available to order this book. The book describes approximately 300 butterfly species and includes photographs and maps. This book has already been ordered for the Commission staff.
Randy Heidorn reported that an issue has developed at Flora Prairie Nature Preserve in Boone County. The Boone County Board denied a special use permit to a company to establish a quarry adjacent to Flora Prairie Nature Preserve. As a result, Boone County is being sued by the quarry operator. At the request of the owner of the Nature Preserve, the Boone County Conservation District (BCCD), and the Boone County State's Attorney, staff of the INPC reviewed the reports submitted by consultants for the County and the aggregate company. The Commission also had a team from the Illinois State Water Survey look at the hydrology of the site to try and assess the potential impacts that the quarry operation may have on Flora Prairie Nature Preserve. Staff have met and are in the process of formulating a response that will go out to the BCCD. Staff members John Alesandrini, John Nelson, Director Grosboll, and Randy Locke with the Illinois State Water Survey have been included on a list of potential witnesses for the lawsuit. More updates will be given as they develop.
Chair O'Keefe asked who is used for legal counsel when Commission staff are called to testify in a legal matter.
Randy stated that it is his understanding that there are two options. The Commission can either go through the local State's Attorney within the county where the lawsuit is filed, or we can use the Attorney General's office. In this case, since the State's Attorney is the one involved, the Commission is working with the Boone County State's Attorney.
Chair O'Keefe stated that she wanted to be sure that the Commission had access to its own legal counsel should there be a need.
Randy reported on a situation at Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve and Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve, both in McHenry County. The Precision Twist Company in Crystal Lake has entered into the voluntary cleanup program with the IEPA to cleanup several contaminants, particularly tetrachloroethylene (TCE) which was used by the company as a cleaning solvent. A consultant for the company established monitoring wells in Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve and determined there was a plume of the TCE underneath Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve. A second series of monitoring wells has been established to look for the end of the plume. Just to the north and down gradient from Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve is Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve. The consultant is concerned that the plume may be heading for Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve which is protected for its high-quality fen, a groundwater feature. The consultant is in the process of trying to establish additional wells within a right-of-way that separates Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve from Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve. This area is owned by Commonwealth Edison. They are also trying to establish monitoring wells in Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve to test the fen to see if TCE is present. Approximately a year and a half ago there was a concern that IEPA was not communicating with the Commission, however, the IEPA has since been very cooperative. There have been several joint meetings with them, and the Commission and the IEPA are sharing information as this cleanup continues. As soon as the extent of this plume is known, the Commission will be updated, and we will be able to determine exactly what remediation will go forward.
Randy reported that the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District is planning to expand an existing sewer pipe using a pipe bursting method. Essentially, a larger pipe will be placed inside the existing pipe, then it will be inflated which will burst the existing pipe. There is some disagreement between Lake in the Hills Sanitary District and the Commission in terms of the Nature Preserve boundary. The Commission is of the opinion that the existing sewer pipe is actually in Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. It is the District's belief that the pipe is not in the Nature Preserve. The process that is being proposed requires no trenching or other surface work other than at certain locations where equipment will be brought in to pull the pipes through existing pipes. There will be no need to trench within Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. The existing sewer line in the Nature Preserve was installed prior to dedication and, therefore, was a pre-existing use of the Nature Preserve. The planned expansion will increase the line from a 12-inch pipe to a 16-inch pipe. The boundary dispute surfaced a number of years ago because of the placement of a fence. At that time, the Commission entered into an agreement with the District indicating that it would agree to disagree because there was no actual plan to build additional sewer facilities at this location. The language of that agreement provides for maintaining the sewer and allowing work on that sewer line. In essence, the Commission approved in that agreement that this proposed work could occur. The Commission will allow this expansion work to occur per the agreement, but will require an INPC special use permit so that we can have input on erosion control measures and anything else that will be necessary to protect Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. The District has agreed to this approach, and the permit was issued. The work should have been done a month or two ago, but it has not been done. Apparently, something is slowing the progress of the sewer line project.
Randy stated that the Commission has been conducting deer management at George B. Fell Nature Preserve, Beall Woods Nature Preserve, Goose Lake Prairie Nature Preserve, Starved Rock Nature Preserve, and Matthiessen Dells Nature Preserve. Starved Rock Nature Preserve and Matthiessen Dells Nature Preserve are the two newest deer management programs. He commended the IDNR and all the staff involved in that project as it went smoothly. The plan called for a combination of firearm and archery hunting along with a handicap hunt. The hunters were happy to work with us to control the deer impacts at those sites. A vegetation monitoring schedule has been set up at these areas, and the post-hunt vegetation motoring will take place this growing season. One of the oldest ongoing deer management programs has been at Horseshoe Lake Nature Preserve in Alexander County. The IDNR has decided to revise the way this single day hunt is conducted since it does not seem to be working to control the deer within the Nature Preserve. Until this plan is revised, the deer control effort will be suspended at that nature preserve.
Randy updated the Commission on the Volunteer Stewardship Network (VSN) Steering Committee. This Committee had its third meeting. The highlight of this third meeting involved a discussion of a survey conducted by TNC of the stewards and regional volunteers. This survey was done to determine what the VSN needs in terms of support. It was specifically mentioned that they wanted a regular newsletter. The Gatherings newsletter has been expanded to a state-wide basis. The survey indicated that workshops were wanted on topics such as invasive species control, prescribed burning, grant writing, and plant identification. The members would also like to have regional tours of areas and direct visits from the VSN staff. They would also like to have regular contacts with the Volunteer Coordinators from all agencies. The IDNR has agreed to play a part in the VSN process. IDNR has agreed to provide $5,000 from its stewardship budget to the VSN. The Steering Committee decided that this money should be spent on safety equipment for the volunteers, including Nomex suits, helmets, goggles, gloves, and chainsaw chaps. Randy stated that he is pleased with the Steering Committee effort.
Commissioner Fraker stated that Carolyn's gentle, but relentless, efforts at Lake in the Hills in getting the MSC property purchased should be recognized. He also stated that too often public institutions ignore their obligation to their public regarding stewardship of natural areas. We saw the Village of Lake in the Hills' behavior toward a natural area. The Commission is committed in its limited way to see that this issue comes out right. Regarding the transaction at Allerton Park that Carolyn referred to, the U of I, specifically President James Stukel, was totally committed to saving that land and got behind the acquisition. The acquisition was somewhat controversial, and the University took some flack for it. They backed conservation in a big way, and he felt that recognition should also go to Bob Mars of the Art Institute, and the Bank One trustee for their recognition of the significance of preserving natural areas. The contrast between the U of I transaction and the Lake in the Hills Fen situation is startling.
170-8) IDNR Staff Report
Glen Kruse reported on two personnel changes. Dr. Jim Herkert has resigned his position as Listing Coordinator with the ESPB. Jim recently assumed new duties as Director of Conservation Science with the Illinois Chapter of TNC, and he is working out of TNC's Peoria office. Dave Cooper, the Natural Heritage Administrator in Region 5 in Benton, will be retiring at the end of March. Dave has been with the Division for many years. It will be a big change and is a loss.
Glen reported that the IDNR acquired 147 acres at Harry "Babe" Woodyard State Natural Area at a cost of $375,000. The IDNR also acquired 252 acres at the Cache River State Natural Area at a cost of $330,000.
The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), in its original form, would have provided approximately $350 million nationwide for conservation projects. The original bill did not pass the United States Congress last year. However, there were two smaller appropriations that did pass. Each of those were $50 million nationwide. The first was included in the Commerce, Justice, and State Department budgets. That $50 million is going to be allocated to the states on a formula basis similar to what was originally proposed with CARA. That formula is based on the population and size of each state. The IDNR has learned that this will bring approximately $1.65 million to Illinois. The Department has had a meeting to discuss how to use that money. Three categories of projects that are allowed under this legislation are wildlife related recreation, education projects, and conservation projects. The federal legislation limits the use of those funds to no more than 10% for recreation projects. It is the IDNR's intent to use the full allowable amount of $165,000 for recreation projects. Recreation, in this sense, is defined as any project that will allow greater access for the public to enjoy wildlife related recreation. It can be things like trails, wildlife viewing platforms, or anything along those lines. The Department has tentatively planned to spend approximately $300,000 in Illinois for the education component. The remainder of approximately $1.2 million will be spent on conservation projects for the benefit of a wide variety of species. The IDNR needs to submit the preliminary plan to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by March 1, 2001. That money can be made available to the states within a couple months after submittal of the plan.
The other appropriation of $50 million on a national scale was through the Interior budget. That $50 million will be allocated on a competitive grant basis. It will be through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Illinois will have to compete with other states to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that it deserves a portion of that money for projects in Illinois. All the details have not been worked out for that procedure, but the IDNR will soon be putting together grant proposals to be submitted in the hopes of obtaining at least its fair share of that $50 million. If the Department can come up with several sound proposals, it may be able to gather as much as $2 million out of the $50 million appropriation.
Glen stated that the IDNR is working on Administrative Rules for the issuance of incidental take permits. Incidental take is a new provision of the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act. The Rules should be filed with the Secretary of State on February 15, 2001, and they should appear in the Illinois Register around the end of February for the first round of public review. Glen stated that although the Rules are not in place, the IDNR has received its first draft conservation plan as a request for an incidental take permit. That request came from the USACE for a project on the Illinois River where they wish to dispose of dredge material at a site behind a levee. It is an unusual situation in that the IDNR has encouraged the USACE to do this dredging for years, and they have finally agreed to do it. However, the site they have chosen is occupied by Illinois chorus frogs. The USACE has convinced the IDNR that it is important for them to use this site. The Department is working with the USACE on this conservation plan in which they are proposing to enhance other habitat for the Illinois chorus frogs in the immediate area in exchange for the possibility that their actions would result in the incidental take of some chorus frogs. This is not a final agreement. The draft conservation plan was received a few days ago, and review of that plan will be done. Negotiations will be done before a final agreement is reached. The USACE has been very cooperative. They have already committed money in the range of $25,000 per year for at least 3-4 years to do work at the site to get an estimate of the frog population on the site, what specific areas they are using, as well as doing some monitoring to see if the frogs are using the additional breeding habitat that they propose to create. It has been a relatively easy first run.
Glen stated that Keith Shank did a summary of the number of consultations that were dealt within the past year that were related to nature preserves. His summary shows that out of approximately 9,000 projects submitted for consultation last year, 147 were found to be in the vicinity of a dedicated nature preserve. That is approximately 1.6% of the total volume of projects that came through that office. More than half of those that were in the vicinity of a dedicated nature preserve were judged unlikely to have any adverse effect on the nature preserve. The other 57 projects were found to justify concern that there would be an effect either on the nature preserve itself or to listed species that occurred within the nature preserve. Those were the 57 projects on which true consultation was undertaken. There were 18 consultations related to nature preserves that were completed during the year 2000. By Keith's description, a subjective evaluation of how effective those were, he ranked them as slightly successful in seven cases, moderately successful in seven cases, very successful in one case, and not effective in three cases. The nature of consultation is an advisory function of the Department.
Chair O'Keefe thanked Keith for getting those statistics regarding the number of nature preserve involved in the consultation process.
Keith stated that when a project is rated not effective, it is not necessarily because the Department did not get anything that it asked for. It could be that when the unit of local government or State agency presented the project they gave the IDNR everything that it could possibly want. This was true in one of those cases. They have to come to the Department for consultation, but they may have already figured out what they need to do. One case was related to an endangered species in a nature preserve. Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve topped the list for the number of times there was a consultation involving it, which was seven times. Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve was number two with five consultations.
Commissioner Nevling asked Keith where his consultation process was most effective.
Keith stated that it was most effective at Carl Fliermans' River Nature Preserve with the Black Beauty Coal Mine issue last year. Some unprecedented measures were incorporated into those permits that have never been done before. This was largely due to the conservation effort involved with the IEPA and the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals permit applications. The IDNR is not trying to judge whether the nature preserve is protected or does not suffer any adverse effects, but whether the consultation program had any influence on the outcome. The Department felt that it had a large influence on the outcome of those particular permit decisions.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that all the registration agreements for today's land and water reserve presentations are signed and executed by the landowners as required by administrative rule.
170-9) Cass Co. - Chandlerville Cemetery Hill Prairie Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal to register Chandlerville Cemetery Hill Prairie as a land and water reserve. Chandlerville Cemetery Hill Prairie, owned by the Village of Chandlerville, is an approximately 2-acre tract located on steep hillsides within an inactive section of Chandlerville Cemetery. The proposed land and water reserve includes a 0.8-acre portion of Chandlerville-Snyder Hill Prairie Natural Area (INAI #1535) which contains no more than one-half acre of grade A loess hill prairie with a much smaller brushy area of former grade B hill prairie. These prairies are representative of the original loess hill prairies of the Springfield Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. Since the original INAI plant survey in 1976, all hill prairie remnants have suffered from woody encroachment and insufficient fire management. Approximately 1.2 acres of adjacent early successional woodlands are included in the proposed land and water reserve to serve as buffer from areas experiencing active cemetery maintenance. Increased restoration management of the site will improve both woodland and hill prairie communities. The proposed land and water reserve is for a period of ten years with automatic ten year renewals unless terminated by the landowner.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Chandlerville Cemetery Hill Prairie in Cass County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 9 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe asked if Mayor Ruppel was able to attend today's meeting.
Tom stated that Mayor Ruppel was invited, however, his schedule did not allow him to attend today's meeting.
Chair O'Keefe stated that she appreciates the interest of the Mayor of Chandlerville in preserving this piece of natural heritage and history of the community. She felt it was an example of where registration as a land and water reserve can complement human history.
A lunch break was taken from 12:12 p.m. - 12:40 p.m.
170-10) Iroquois Co. - Iroquois County State Wildlife Area Land and Water Reserve, Registration
(Actually presented after Item 11)
Eric Smith presented a proposal to register 1,613 acres of the Iroquois County State Wildlife Area as a land and water reserve. The Iroquois County State Wildlife Area is located in the northeast corner of Iroquois County. It contains a diverse mosaic of oak sand savanna, sand flatwoods, prairie, sedge meadow and marsh communities representative of the Kankakee Sand Area Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division and is included on the INAI (#763). It is owned and managed by the IDNR. This site contains one of the finest and most extensive sedge meadow/marsh complexes remaining in Illinois. The proposed land and water reserve will permanently protect habitat for 13 state-listed species as well as habitat for area sensitive grassland birds. This site is considered among the top six most important areas in Illinois for invertebrates associated with prairies and sedge meadows.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that he has done plant surveys at this area for years. He felt that this is certainly one of the richest prairie-type areas that we know about. He is pleased that it has come before the Commission for registration.
Commissioner Fraker stated that he has also had an occasion to work in this area within the last six months for TNC. He feels it is the most underrated natural area in the State of Illinois. The action of the Department in taking this step is significant for conservation.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Iroquois County State Wildlife Area in Iroquois County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe stated that this registration is very exciting because it protects an amazing piece of property. The Commission is grateful to the Department for its hard work and commitment to maintain this high-quality area. She specifically thanked Director Manning and Deputy Director Jim Garner, who personally delivered the Registration Agreement to the Commission Meeting for their commitment in seeing this area protected.
170-11) Vermilion Co. - Addition to Little Vermilion River Land and Water Reserve, Registration
(Actually presented prior to Don McFall's and Randy Heidorn's portion of the INPC Staff Report)
Bob Szafoni presented a proposal to register an addition to the Little Vermilion River Land and Water Reserve. The Little Vermilion River Land and Water Reserve is an approximately 835-acre site within Harry "Babe" Woodyard State Natural Area in Vermilion County. The site is owned and managed by the IDNR. The reserve is representative of the Vermilion River Section of the Wabash Border Natural Division. It protects 2.2 miles of the INAI Little Vermilion River (#669), supports 11 state-listed species, provides habitat for 18 species of forest-interior birds, and harbors a heron rookery and secure breeding ponds for geographically restricted salamanders and frogs. The Little Vermilion River Land and Water Reserve provides opportunities for hiking, hunting, trapping, and fishing. The proposed addition to the Little Vermilion River Land and Water Reserve will add 34 acres to the Reserve, supply additional watershed protection to the river, decrease forest fragmentation, and provide direct protection and buffer to nine populations of listed plants, fibrous-rooted sedge (Carex communis) and drooping sedge (Carex prasina) and a wetland seep.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of an addition to the Little Vermilion River Land and Water Reserve in Vermilion County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe recognized Director Manning and Deputy Director Jim Garner for their efforts in seeing this area registered. She thanked them for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the Commission's meeting.
170-12) Lake Co. - North Park Addition to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 10)
Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of the North Park addition to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve. The Village of Lincolnshire proposes to dedicate approximately 38 acres of North Park as an addition to Florsheim Park. Of the 38-acre total, approximately 18 acres are proposed for dedication as nature preserve and the balance (20 acres) proposed for dedication as nature preserve buffer. North Park, itself, consists of approximately 63 acres that were acquired by the Village of Lincolnshire in 1999, following the highly successful results of a referendum placed on the ballot by the Lincolnshire Village Board. This proposal for dedication provides for formal protection of the open space portion of North Park acquired in 1999, by the Village of Lincolnshire. The proposed North Park addition to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve is located immediately adjacent to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve. Florsheim Park is a 40-acre tract of land that was included on the INAI (#1500) because of the presence of four state-listed plant species. One of these, the eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platantherea leucophaea) is also a federally-listed species. The dry mesic upland forest and northern flatwoods communities present at Florsheim Park Nature Preserve extend north into the proposed North Park addition. These natural communities are representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. At least one state-listed plant species known from Florsheim Park, the dog violet (Viola conspersa), also occurs within the proposed addition. Masi and Steffen (2000) report that the state-listed marsh speedwell (Veronica scutellata) occurs near an ephemeral pond in the northeastern portion of the proposed addition. The INPC conferred preliminary approval for dedication of Florsheim Park as an Illinois Nature Preserve at its 150th Meeting in February, 1996 (Resolution #1303). Final approval was granted at the Commission's 151st Meeting in May, 1996 (Resolution #1315).
This proposal provides for routing and construction of recreational trails. Larger trails are proposed within the buffer and smaller pedestrian trails are proposed within the proposed nature preserve.
Chair O'Keefe asked if the vacant lot shown on a map is within the Village itself.
Steven stated that it is located within the Village of Lincolnshire. The Village staff are looking for options and opportunities to protect that lot as well. He has already talked with them about Governor Ryan's OLT program and other opportunities and options that are available.
Carolyn asked if the Village received any grants to buy the North Park addition.
Steven stated, "no." However, they did receive an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant to embark upon management at Florsheim Park Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of the North Park addition to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
170-13) McHenry Co. - McHenry County Conservation District Addition to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of the MCCD addition to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. Lake in the Hills Fen was recognized by the INAI (#1011) for extant high-quality calcareous floating mat, graminoid fen, low shrub fen, calcareous seep, sedge meadow and dry gravel prairie communities of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Collectively, these communities support 19 state-listed endangered or threatened species. On August 1, 1989, the INPC granted preliminary approval for Lake in the Hills Fen (formally dedicated as Spring Hill Farm Fen) at its 124th Meeting (Resolution #1012 and #1013). The proposal included 133.8 acres owned by the Village of Lake in the Hills and 73.3 acres owned by the IDNR. Final approval was granted at the Commission's 125th Meeting (Resolution #1022 and #1023) on November 14, 1989. At the Commission's 130th Meeting, February, 1991, a resolution was adopted to rename Spring Hill Farm Fen Nature Preserve as Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve (Resolution #1078). More recently, the Commission has adopted resolutions (#1421 and #1426) regarding the impact of gravel mining in the ground water recharge zone located east of Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. The proposed 5.8-acre addition to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve was recently included on the INAI in recognition of its high-quality graminoid fen and calcareous seep communities. The site supports six state-listed endangered or threatened plant species and one state-listed threatened animal species. The proposed addition, frequently referred to as the Rothschild tract, is part of a larger tract of land acquired by the MCCD in March, 1998. The INPC staff appreciates the MCCD's interest in preservation of this rare ecosystem and recommends that the proposed addition be conferred preliminary approval for dedication as an addition to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. Dedication of this addition will preserve high-quality graminoid fen and calcareous seep communities of state-wide ecological significance, provide essential buffer from incompatible land uses, and preserve an important ground water recharge and discharge zones. The proposed 5.8-acre addition will increase the size of the nature preserve from 207.1 to 212.9 acres. Steve mentioned that he hoped this figure could be increased in the near future.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of the McHenry County Conservation District addition to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe stated that she was glad that Steven mentioned that he was going to work on dedicating the rest of the MCCD acreage.
Steven stated that he will also be working with the IDNR to secure formal protection of the 63-acre addition recently purchased from MSC.
170-14) Peoria Co. - Singing Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Angella Moorehouse, Matt Fick and Mike Miller of the Peoria Park District presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Singing Woods Nature Preserve. Singing Woods is part of the 899-acre North Bluff Wildlife Preserve, owned and managed by the Peoria Park District. The Peoria Park District proposes to dedicate 694 acres of oak-hickory forest, interspersed with hill prairie, barrens, wetland seeps, and intermittent streams, as Singing Woods Nature Preserve. The natural communities of Singing Woods are representative of the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. Singing Woods is part of a corridor of large tracts of woodlands (known as the Peoria Wilds Resource Rich Area) within the bluffs overlooking the Illinois River Valley, north of Peoria. This site is the largest contiguous tract of oak-hickory forest in Illinois, north of the Shawnee National Forest. Singing Woods supports a diverse population of high sensitive and moderate sensitive forest breeding birds such as the Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, Scarlet Tanager, and Louisiana Waterthrush. The state-threatened downy arrowwood (Viburnum molle) is found at two separate locations within the proposed preserve, as are a vast array of conservative prairie and woodland plants.
Referring to a map, Matt Fick stated that there is a 156-acre tract that the Peoria Park District acquired back in 1992. There is a proposed site plan for this area, and it is foreseen that there may be a neighborhood park there in the future. The 116 acres to the east is proposed as a buffer from that type of activity. The 31 acres may be a small area park. There is an access strip to the south, called Singing Woods Road. That provides a separate access point to that area. The 4.5 and 4.7-acre out lots are seen as parking lots, potential access points to the site. Forty-nine acres is currently being farmed. The long-range plans may include a nature center facility being constructed in that area. There is also a proposed trail system within the park. There is a potential for a biking and hiking trails that may be connected to an east-west trail system.
Chair O'Keefe recognized that the Peoria Park District has given a lot of thought as to the future use of the area in order to satisfy a number of different needs in the community.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Singing Woods in Peoria County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe stated that it was her understanding that the Peoria Park District is the largest owner of nature preserves among the park districts in the State of Illinois, both in terms of acreage and in the number of preserves. She commended the Park District for their forward thinking, and she thanked Mike Miller and Matt Fick. She stated that she feels this is a wonderful addition to the Illinois Nature Preserves System.
Mike Miller stated that the relationship with the Commission has been wonderful from a land managers point of view, especially the Commission's assistance in developing the management schedules and the guidance it has provided.
170-15) Cook Co. - Addition of Buffer to Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve. Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve is a 91-acre site owned by the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (70 acres) and the City of Elgin (21 acres). Bluff Spring Fen was recognized by the INAI (#537) for high-quality graminoid fen, sedge meadow, and calcareous seep wetland communities representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. In addition, the site supports 12 state-listed endangered or threatened plant species and one state-listed threatened insect. Bluff Spring Fen was conferred preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 109th Meeting (Resolution #890) in March, 1986. Subsequently, the Commission conferred final approval for a portion of the site owned by the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago at its 112th Meeting (Resolution #915) in October, 1986. The balance of the site, owned by the City of Elgin, received final approval for dedication at the Commission's 116th Meeting (Resolution #964) in November, 1987. The proposed addition consists of three parcels totaling 4.34 acres. Two of the tracts were purchased by the City of Elgin in 1996, as part of the City's continuing effort to acquire and remove homes located in the Poplar Creek flood plain. The third tract was conveyed to the City of Elgin in 1991, as a condition for approval of a nearby residential development. Dedication of these tracts as nature preserve buffer will provide formal protection to the parcels and further buffer Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve from incompatible land uses. Dedication of the proposed addition would increase the acreage of Bluff Spring Fen from 91 to 95.34 acres. The Commission granted preliminary approval of dedication of this addition at its 169th Meeting (Resolution #1558) in October, 2000.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Cook County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Steven stated that the City of Elgin is an important partner in efforts to protect an additional 40 acres adjacent to Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve. The City recently closed on properties that will ultimately be rolled into a management protection plan and a partnership with the Kane County Forest Preserve District (KCFPD). They have closed on properties valued at $960,000.
170-16) Kendall Co. - Millhurst Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Kim Roman presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Millhurst Fen Nature Preserve. Millhurst Fen is a 7.1-acre site in Kendall County which was recently acquired by the IDNR. It is located approximately three miles southwest of Plano, in the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. Millhurst Fen is a rare natural community and is included on the INAI (#981) because it provides habitat for three state-listed plant species: yellow monkey flower (Mimulus glabratus), slender bog arrow-grass (Triglochin palustris), and beaked spike rush (Eleocharis rostellata). Dedication of Millhurst Fen will allow this unique site and the threatened or endangered species which inhabit it to be protected in perpetuity. The Commission granted preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 169th Meeting (Resolution #1560) in October, 2000.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Millhurst Fen in Kendall County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
170-17) Lake Co. - Addition to Wagner Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition to Wagner Fen Nature Preserve. Wagner Fen, originally recognized as Tower Lakes Fen on the INAI (#662), was acknowledged for its high-quality graminoid fen communities, representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Other natural communities present at the site include sedge meadow, marsh, and perennial stream. Combined, these communities support over 230 plant species. The graminoid fen communities contain seven state-listed plant species: rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides), small white lady's slipper (Cypripedium candidum), showy lady's slipper (C. reginae), slender bog arrow grass (Triglochin palustis), false asphodel (Tofieldia glutinosa), grass pink orchid (Calopogon tuberosus), and beaked spike rush (Eleocharis rostellata). The sedge meadow community provides habitat for the state-listed bog bedstraw (Galium labradoricum). At the Commission's 143rd Meeting in May, 1994, Tower Lakes Improvement Association was granted preliminary approval to dedicate approximately 10 acres of a portion of Wagner Fen as Tower Lakes Fen Nature Preserve, the Citizen for Conservation received preliminary approval to dedicate approximately 40 acres of a portion of Wagner Fen as Wagner Fen Nature Preserve, and Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) included its 50-acre portion of Wagner Fen to be dedicated as Wagner Fen Nature Preserve. An additional 20-acre tract, owned by the LCFPD, was also conferred preliminary approval for dedication as nature preserve buffer to Wagner Fen Nature Preserve. Final approval was granted for the 40-acre Wagner Fen portion, owned by the Citizens for Conservation, at the Commission's 144th Meeting in August, 1994. The 10-acre Tower Lakes portion, owned by the Tower Lakes Improvement Association, received final approval at the Commission's 147th Meeting in May, 1995. The 20-acre tract owned by the LCPFD that was granted preliminary approval for dedication as nature preserve buffer will be presented for final approval at a future date. However, the LCFPD is now seeking final approval for dedication of its 50-acre portion of Wagner Fen to be dedicated as an addition to Wagner Fen Nature Preserve. Final dedication of the LCFPD's portion of Wagner Fen will complete the protection of this 100-acre wetland basin and preservation of endangered and threatened species that depend on its existence.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Wagner Fen Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe stated that it was very exciting to renew the partnership with the LCFPD, and she asked Steven to convey the Commission's appreciation to the LCFPD.
170-18) Madison Co. - Poole Farm Addition to Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of the Poole Farm addition to Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve. The Nature Institute proposes to dedicate 7.25 acres of the Poole Farm as an addition to Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve. The proposed addition also borders the 16.5-acre Oblate Father's Woods Nature Preserve. The Poole Farm, located in the Glaciated Section of the Middle Mississippi Border Natural Division, is a key parcel within the watershed of the stream that separates the Mississippi Sanctuary and Oblate Father's Woods. The site also completes the protection of the dry-mesic and mesic forest that is contiguous on all three properties. The complex of adjoining lands in the area, including John M. Olin Nature Preserve, Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary Nature Preserve Buffer, Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve, and Oblate Fathers Nature Preserve, comprise a total of 393 acres. This addition will increase the amount of contiguous preserved land to 400 acres. The preservation of the Poole Farm will also add more buffer to the nearby Bald Eagle winter roost on the John M. Olin Nature Preserve, and will preserve critical habitat for the state-threatened timber rattlesnake, which is found in the vicinity of the property. The Commission granted preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 169th Meeting (Resolution #1562) in October, 2000.
It was moved by Burton, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of the Poole Farm Addition to Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Madison County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 18 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
170-19) Will Co. - Addition of Buffer to Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve, Dedication
Kim Roman presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve. The Forest Preserve District of Will County (FPDWC) proposes to dedicate 25.93 acres as buffer to Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve, bringing the total dedicated acreage of the site to over 300 acres. Braidwood Dunes and Savanna is an INAI site (#935) which lies in the Kankakee Sands Area Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. The area's dune and swale topography support high-quality sand prairie, sand savanna, sedge meadow, and marsh communities. Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve provides habitat for five state-listed species: regal fritillary butterfly (Speyeria idalia), false asphodel (Tofieldia glutinosa), small sundew (Drosera intermedia), grass pink orchid (Calopogon tuberosus), and tubercled orchid (Plantanthera flava). The proposed buffer is comprised of an old field, dry-mesic sand savanna, and dry-mesic to mesic prairie. While a portion of the 25.93 acres was included on the original INAI, disturbance from past use is evident. The proposed addition would serve as important buffer to the higher quality natural communities within the existing Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve while the District restores the site to its original condition. The Commission granted preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 169th Meeting (Resolution #1563), in October, 2000.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve in Will County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
170-20) Will Co. - Addition of Buffer to Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Kim Roman presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve. Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve is an 800-acre site owned by the IDNR, FPDWC, and the villages of Park Forest and University Park. It is located in northeastern Will County, within the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Approximately 500 acres of Thorn Creek Woods is included on the INAI (#933) for its grade B dry-mesic upland forest, and for providing habitat for state-listed species. The entire 500 acres of INAI forest, plus an additional 300 acres of bottomland forest, wooded ravines, seeps, and marshes have since been permanently protected through dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Thorn Creek Woods is one of the largest forested areas in northeastern Illinois. The FPDWC has recently acquired an additional 76.8 acres south of the existing nature preserve and proposes to dedicate it as buffer. This will bring the total dedicated acreage to 877.4, making it the fifth largest site in the Illinois Nature Preserves system. The Commission granted preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 169th Meeting (Resolution #1564), in October, 2000.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition of buffer to Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve in Will County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 20 of the Agenda for the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe stated that this is such an interesting site because there are so many owners of the property that work together to create and manage this magnificent preserve site.
170-21) Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve - Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Randy Heidorn stated that negotiations continue between Johns Manville, IDNR, IEPA, U.S. EPA, and other parties in terms of the remediation of the asbestos road that is located at the south end of Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. The base of the road was constructed out of Transite pipe material. There has been progress in the negotiations.
Johns Manville has been approached by the Waukegan Harbor Citizen's Advisory Group (CAG) to consider using a settling basin on its property as a confined disposal facility for Waukegan Harbor dredge material. As a result, there have been discussions between the IDNR and the various groups involved in terms of protecting the Nature Preserve from any type of contamination that may be associated with that landfill facility. As a part of those discussions, the Commission has issued a special use permit to a consultant to the USACE to collect data and establish monitoring plots for the vegetation in the south end of the Nature Preserve. That work will take place during this growing season. The Commission is currently reviewing a proposal to establish a hydrological monitoring system in the south end of the Nature Preserve. The IDNR, particularly the Illinois State Water Survey, has expressed concerns over the way the monitoring array is set up. The IDNR has asked the consultant for the CAG and the USACE to revise the array of wells because the proposed configuration would not be suitable for the modeling flow of water and contaminants near the Industrial Canal separating the Johns Manville property and the Nature Preserve. The permit application has been sent back to the applicant, and the Commission is waiting for discussions to take place with the CAG consultant and the IDNR.
Randy stated that the Commission has received a letter from the USACE asking the INPC to review a proposal to place the Waukegan inner harbor dredge spoils into the settling basin on the Johns Manville property. At this point, the Commission is meeting with the IDNR to discuss this proposal. Since the studies previously referred to have not occurred, it is difficult to assess the potential impacts.
Carolyn asked if a time frame has been set as to how long monitoring will need to be done before any conclusions regarding potential impacts to the Nature Preserve can be made.
Randy stated that no such time frame has been set. The USACE is in the process of developing an environmental impact statement, but the data has not been collected. Until those discussions between the IDNR and the USACE take place, no time frame can be determined. It will take some time, even measured in years, to collect the data. As an example, it took three years of data collection before the Commission could actually show the potential impacts occurring at Lake in the Hills Fen from adjacent mining.
Commissioner Nevling asked what the major contaminants were in the Waukegan Harbor.
Randy stated that the primary contaminant is PCB. The levels in the Waukegan Harbor are below the USEPA action level at the present time. Those materials are at such a level that they do not need to go to a special waste facility, however, they do need to be contained. When the original cleanup was done at Waukegan Harbor, the high concentration of PCB was removed. The remaining material has been characterized as being a lower level, but it is higher than the background.
170-22) Update on Ad Hoc INPC Sign Committee
Chair O'Keefe stated that a special committee was appointed to look at the INPC signage. The Ad Hoc Sign Committee members were Bruce McMillan from the Illinois State Museum, Jill Allread, Vicky Ranney, Randy Heidorn, and herself. The Committee has been working with the language and the design of the signs. The initial recommendations were presented at the 169th Meeting of the INPC, and the suggestions provided at that time were considered. The Committee met by conference call, and a number of changes were made that were responsive to some of the suggestions. The Commission was asked to take a formal action to approve the proposed signs.
It was moved by Fraker, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the signage program as discussed by the Commission at the 170th Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe stated that through the intervention of Gerald Adelmann, Consultant to the INPC, he has been able to direct a gift of $5,000 from the Donnelley Foundation to match what is in the INPC's annual signage budget. The Commission will now be able to devote approximately $10,000 to institute the new sign program. She stated that she was thrilled that Gerald Adelmann was able to direct that money, and she was grateful that the Donnelley Foundation was willing to make the grant to the Commission. She stated that a thank you letter will be sent thanking the Donnelley Foundation.
170-23) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Dave Monk, ERES, stated that an area of great concern is the wetlands in the upper end of the Embarras River, south of the U of I, where the University is acquiring a lot of ground. The University does not seem to have formal plans, but he feels it could be a tough, but interesting site for wetland education and recreation.
Commissioner Nevling commented that this meeting went smoothly, and he feels it is because of the meticulous work that the staff has done in preparing all of the information for the presentations. He felt the Commission should thank the staff for doing a terrific job, and he feels the results have shown today.
170-24) Other Business
There was no other business.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Fraker, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 1:35 p.m.