DuPage and Kane Co. - Tri-County Wetland Land and Water Reserve, Registration ....7
McHenry Co. - Black-Crown Marsh Land and Water Reserve, Registration ....8
Washington Co. - Chip-O-Will Land and Water Reserve, Registration ....9
LaSalle Co. - Addition to Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve, Dedication ....10
Monroe Co. - Pautler Nature Preserve, Dedication 11
Kane Co. - Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve, Dedication ....12
Lake Co. - North Park Addition of Nature Preserve and Nature Preserve Buffer to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve, Dedication ....13
Peoria Co. - Singing Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication ....14
Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve - Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation ....15
Adoption of Agenda ....2
Approval of the Minutes of Special Meeting, February 5, 2001, and Minutes of 170th Meeting, February 6, 2001 ....3
Next Meeting Schedule ....4
INPC Staff Report ....5
IDNR Staff Report ....6
Public Comment Period ....16
Other Business ....17
171-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:25 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, Harry Drucker, Jonathan Ellis, Joyce O'Keefe, John Schwegman, and John Sommerhof.
Members absent: Dianne Burton, Kristi DeLaurentiis, and Lorin Nevling.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Steven Byers, Bob Edgin, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Angella Moorehouse, Kelly Neal, John Nelson, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, Kim Roman, and Mary Kay Solecki, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Jennifer Aherin, Bob Gottfried, Dan Kirk, Brad Semel, and Jody Shimp, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Glen Kruse, Patti Malmborg Reilly, and Brian Reilly, Division of Natural Heritage, IDNR; Keith Shank, Division of Natural Resource Review and Coordination, IDNR; Sue Dees and George Rose, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society and INPC Consultant; Dave Thomas, Illinois Natural History Survey and INPC Advisor; Jack White, INPC Consultant; John Mueller, representing Chip-O-Will Land and Water Reserve; Roger Beadles, representing Beadles Barrens Nature Preserve; Doris Westfall, representing Doris Westfall Prairie Nature Preserve and Vermilion County Conservation District; Karen Binder, Southern Illinoisan; Barbara McKasson, Sierra Club; and Stan Harris, former INPC Commissioner.
Chair O'Keefe reported that Governor Ryan recently appointed three new Commissioners: Kristi DeLaurentiis of Frankfort, Illinois; Harry Drucker of Wilmette, Illinois; and John Sommerhof of Godfrey, Illinois. Guy Fraker, Vicky Ranney, and Michael Schneiderman are the retiring Commission members. Chair O'Keefe recognized the contributions to the INPC of the retiring Commission members. She also welcomed the new members.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted.
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission wishes to recognize the contributions of Guy C. Fraker during his tenure as a Commissioner from 1996 to 2001. Guy served with distinction as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 1997 to 1999 and as Chair of the Commission from 1999 to 2000. He will be remembered for his fair sense of direction, his much appreciated sense of humor, and his problem solving abilities. His years of service with the Commission will be warmly remembered and his continuing commitment to and advocacy for the Commission will always be greatly appreciated.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission wishes to recognize the contributions of Victoria Post Ranney during her tenure as a Commissioner from 1996 to 2001. Vicky served with distinction as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 1996 to 1997 and as Chair of the Commission from 1997 to 1999. Among her many accomplishments, Vicky will be most remembered for her perseverance to ensure the protection of Lake in the Hills Fen. Her years of service with the Commission will be warmly remembered and her continuing commitment to and advocacy for the Commission's programs will always be greatly appreciated.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission wishes to recognize the contributions of Michael Schneiderman during his tenure as a Commissioner from 1996 to 2001. His many accomplishments will be an ongoing tribute to the Commission for years to come. Michael will be remembered for his thoughtful questions and his ability to quickly surmise the correct course of action. His years of service with the Commission will be warmly remembered and his continuing commitment to and advocacy for the Commission's programs will always be greatly appreciated.
Chair O'Keefe reported that at the 170th Meeting of the INPC, held at the Illinois State Library in Springfield on February 6, 2001, legal protection for nine tracts of land, totaling 1,820 acres was approved by the Commission. One of these areas, the Poole Farm addition to Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve, is owned by a private land trust which donated the value of the protection agreement to the public. The estimated dollar value of that tract of private land was $50,000, based on conservative estimates of the fair market value of the land. The private land was permanently preserved without acquisition of the land by the State. There are now 297 dedicated nature preserves in 78 counties, totaling 39,200 acres. There are 54 land and water reserves in 36 counties, totaling 31,400 acres. Chair O'Keefe congratulated the staff for their fine work.
171-2) Adoption of Agenda
Carolyn Grosboll stated that Item 8 on the Agenda, registration of Black-Crown Marsh Land and Water Reserve in McHenry County, will be postponed because of a problem with the legal description in the registration document. That problem with be corrected, and this item will be presented at the August 7, 2001 meeting.
Carolyn stated that three items will be added under Other Business. There were two stewardship issues that came up after the Agenda was printed. One issue deals with bank stabilization of a creek that runs through Barber Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County. There is also a request to put water lines through Prairie Ridge State Natural Area Land and Water Reserve in Jasper County. The third item will be an update regarding the 300th INPC nature preserve dedication.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the Agenda, as amended, be adopted.
171-3) Approval of Minutes of Special Meeting, February 5, 2001, and Minutes of 170th Meeting, February 6, 2001
Commissioner Allread stated that a language change to the seventh paragraph on page 7 of the February 5, 2001, Special Meeting Minutes needs to be made. She felt that the discussion related more to a special event that will be built around the 300th dedication. The proposed language would read, "The strategies proposed are to plan an event around the 300th dedication and to use the media to help tell our story." Commissioner Allread also proposed to strike the next sentence in that paragraph, "A party is a nice way to commemorate something special."
Chair O'Keefe stated that she would like to amend the second sentence of the eighth paragraph on page 5 of the February 5, 2001, Special Meeting Minutes. The proposed language would read, "An earlier referendum failed because the people did not have confidence in the leadership of the forest preserve district."
Carolyn Grosboll stated that she would like to amend the second sentence in the fifth paragraph on page 3 of the February 5, 2001, Special Meeting Minutes. The proposed language would read, "Groups representing affordable housing got 50 cents, the open space land and development grants got 35 cents, and the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund got 15 cents."
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Allread, and carried that the Special Meeting Minutes, February 5, 2001, as amended, be approved.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the Minutes of the 170th INPC Meeting, February 6, 2001, be approved.
171-4) Next Meeting Schedule
7 August at 9:00 a.m. - Public Landing Restaurant, Lockport, Illinois
30 October at 10:00 a.m. - Desoto Hotel, Galena, Illinois
171-5) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll stated that at the 170th Meeting of the INPC she reported that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals (OMM) had issued permits to Black Beauty Coal Company for an underground mining facility adjacent to the Little Vermilion River and upstream from Carl Fliermans' River Nature Preserve in Vermilion County. She also reported that appeals of both of those permits have been filed on behalf of Prairie Rivers Network. The IEPA permit appeal will be heard on May 1 and 2, 2001, before the Illinois Pollution Control Board. The OMM permit appeal will be heard on June 18, 2001.
Carolyn stated that as part of the IEPA permit appeal, she was subpoenaed to provide documents and testimony at a deposition. The deposition was held on April 11, 2001, and it lasted approximately three hours. The Illinois Attorney General's office represented her during the deposition. The questioning related to the Commission's comments provided to IEPA.
Carolyn stated that last week she received a second subpoena to provide documents and testimony at a deposition scheduled for Thursday, May 3, 2001, in the case relating to the appeal of the IDNR/OMM permit which will be heard in June, 2001.
Prairie Rivers Network has filed an intent to sue Black Beauty Coal Company over allegations that Black Beauty has already dumped more than a ton of sediment and suspended solids into a small creek on the west side of the mine. Staff will continue to be involved and monitor this situation.
Carolyn stated that the Commissioners were provided with copies of several legislative bill summaries in their agenda packets.
Senate Bill (SB) 1173 eliminates several boards and commissions, including the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB). The Commission has long been a partner with the ESPB. The ESPB is responsible, among other things, for determining the list of all the State's endangered and threatened species. Several people expressed their concern to the Bill's sponsor, Senator Tom Walsh, as well as to Governor Ryan, about the elimination of the ESPB. Because of this concern, Senator Tom Walsh has drafted an amendment that removes the ESPB from the Bill. The amendment has been filed in committee and should be heard next week. We are continuing to monitor this situation to make sure that the ESPB is deleted from the Bill.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission supports the existence of the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board and the activities which it performs.
Carolyn stated that the second bill is House Bill (HB) 1081. This Bill may have a negative impact on the ability to conduct prescribed burns for natural areas management. The Bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. The Bill allows fire protection districts to regulate open burning which may be contrary to the policies that the IDNR and INPC staff currently follow. We are continuing to provide input on this Bill so that it is consistent with natural area managers' needs.
Chair O'Keefe stated that it would be in the best interest of the Commission to work behind the scene in trying to shape the Bill that eventually passes.
Carolyn stated that the third bill is HB 2358, which creates the Local Legacy Act. This new act would govern the Local Legacy Program. The program provides funding for county-municipal partnerships to inventory and protect natural areas, farmland, and cultural resources. The Bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. The concept for this Bill came out of the General Assembly's Illinois Growth Task Force chaired by Senator Maitland. The INPC has been asked by Openlands Project to endorse this Bill and to provide support for this Bill. Several other conservation groups support this Bill, including The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission supports House Bill 2358.
The fourth bill is HB 2283. This bill provides for the clean up of abandoned and neglected cemeteries. A similar bill was introduced last session by Comptroller Hynes after he held several regional meetings concerning problems with cemetery care. Language has been added to ensure that cemeteries dedicated as nature preserves which are slated for clean up under the Bill's authority have a level of clean up consistent with the preserve's management schedule and master plan. There is one section of the Bill that still needs language added to it. We are trying to get that language amended to make it as clear as possible. We will continue to monitor this Bill.
The fifth bill is HB 2054. This Bill calls for an advisory referendum at the General Election in 2002, to ask if the Illinois General Assembly should increase the sales tax by two tenths of one percent in order to protect the State's recreational open space, natural areas, and farmland. The Bill passed the House and is in the Senate. The Illinois Association of Park Districts is taking the lead on support for this Bill and has sent the Commission a letter asking for an endorsement of the Bill. The sales tax increase, if passed, would generate an estimated $300 million per year. Carolyn recommended that the Commission entertain a resolution to endorse HB 2054 in order to protect open space, natural areas, and farmland.
Marilyn Campbell asked if this Bill has a time limit.
Chair O'Keefe stated that there is no time limit built into the legislative language at this time.
Carolyn stated that it is an advisory referendum to ask the citizens if this is something they would like the legislature to entertain.
Marilyn stated that she received a letter that indicated there was a 20-year time limit.
Chair O'Keefe stated that the language in HB 2054 is very general at this time with no time limit.
Commissioner Drucker asked if there has been any discussion about who would administer the funds if this legislation passes.
Chair O'Keefe stated that this Bill does not discuss who would administer the funds. She stated that the Illinois Association of Park Districts is assuming that the IDNR would be administering the funds.
Commissioner Allread asked if these funds would be specifically for land acquisition or for any kind of protection.
Chair O'Keefe stated that it was her interpretation that the Bill is not limited to land acquisition.
Commissioner Allread stated that the language is vague, and she would hope that there would be more detail put into the language before the question is put to the public so they would know what they would be voting for or against in the referendum. She hoped that a public education campaign would be done if they really want people to get behind this.
Chair O'Keefe stated that it is a serious endeavor to pass a statewide referendum, and it would require a substantial effort. In northeastern Illinois, there is real public concern about the loss of natural areas and open space, and there is a willingness to fund these protection programs. There have been three referenda in the 90's that have passed in Lake County. The final one was for $85 million for land acquisition. There was a huge referendum which passed in McHenry County, considering the population base. All of the counties in northeastern Illinois, with the exception of Cook County, have passed referenda within the last 3-4 years. She felt that the public is crying out to protect what is important now so that it will not be lost. She also felt there was a sense of public support to provide the funding to do this.
Commissioner Drucker asked how important is it to the public that some of the critical details are thought of in advance regarding how the money will be spent and what bodies will be in charge of making those decisions. He wanted to know what level of detail was important at this stage.
Chair O'Keefe stated that she was not able to answer those questions because there was a very firm understanding of what was going to be done with the money in almost every county forest preserve referenda. Even though it was not spelled out publicly in terms of a particular property that was going to be acquired, there was a general understanding and an agreement on the part of the elected officials of how to use the money. Other states have passed referenda that have been more general.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission endorses HB 2054 which establishes a permanent funding source for the protection of Illinois' high-quality natural areas, recreational open space, and farmland.
Carolyn stated that at the Special Meeting on February 5, 2001, the possibility of a strategic planning meeting was discussed. An outline has been put together for the strategic planning session, and the Commission is in the process of seeking approval from the IDNR to proceed given the budget constraints that it will be facing this next fiscal year.
Carolyn introduced John Nelson, INPC's Northeastern Illinois Threats Coordinator. He gave an update on the situation at Lake in the Hills Fen regarding the proposed Village Hall.
John Nelson stated that at the 170th Meeting of the INPC, he reported on the Commission's environmental review of potential impacts resulting from the construction of the Village Hall next to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. On March 5, 2001, the Commission's concerns and recommendations were conveyed to the Village in a letter sent to Scott Berg, Village President. The issues raised were groundwater impacts, protection of the gravel hill prairie which is an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) site, and visual aesthetics. The Commission recommended that the Village move the Village Hall further west, away from the Nature Preserve. The Commission also recommended formal protection of the gravel hill prairie. No formal response has been received from the Village, however, local newspapers did obtain copies of the letter and reported the Commission's position to the public. The Village Trustees were informally discussing how to address these concerns mostly out of their own re-election concerns. Information at that time indicated that the Village Board was ready to go ahead with construction. On March 30, 2001, Keith Shank of the IDNR, Division of Natural Resource Review and Coordination, sent a letter outlining unresolved issues, including the INPC concerns. The consultation process remains open.
The election was held on April 3, 2001, and the Village President was replaced by a new person, and three new Trustees were elected. Essentially, there is now a new Village Board in place that is hopefully more fen friendly. Most of this effort has come about from the local work of volunteer steward, Al Wilson. The pressure on the Village Board came about from local residents. The new Village Board was sworn in on April 26, 2001, but they have not taken it upon themselves to address this project as of this date. The Commission staff is keeping a close eye on this situation. We are looking forward to working with the new Village administration. It is possible, with the new Village Board members, that the Village Hall will be moved to an alternate site. That was the platform that the new Trustees and Village President ran on. The majority on the Board, as well as the new Village President, have publically stated that they would like to have the new Village Hall moved to an alternative location. It is hoped that this issue will be resolved in the near future, and an update will be given at the 172nd Meeting of the INPC on August 7, 2001.
Commissioner Allread stated that since there are new Board members, it may be appropriate to correspond with them to let them know that the Commission is looking forward to working with them and to reiterate its position.
John stated that we have such an opportunity now. The Commission has been working with the Village on an unrelated issue at Barbara Key Park, which is located on the other side of the Nature Preserve. The Village has reconstructed a berm that borders the Nature Preserve, and this project has turned out very well. The reason for this project is to protect the fen wetlands below the berm. This would be an opportunity to thank the new Village Board for this cooperative effort at Barbara Key Park and include a statement that we are looking forward to a spirit of cooperation on the Village Hall as well.
Commissioner Allread stated that we should do at least that if not a correspondence to each of the newly elected Board members saying that we look forward to working with them on this critical issue.
Carolyn stated that she would send such a letter.
Commissioner Drucker asked if this was the same Village where they had a non-binding referendum where 83% of the people were in favor of moving the Village Hall to another location.
Carolyn stated that it was. The former Village Board ignored the referendum.
Commissioner Allread thanked John Nelson for the job he has done monitoring this situation.
Steven Byers stated that he would encourage the Commission to offer to work cooperatively with the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD), the IDNR, and the Village to provide formal protection for that 60 acre-tract. There is a concern that now that the Village Hall does not appear to be a reality, that there may be an alterative land use proposal. He felt that the Commission needs to be pro-actively engaged in the protection of that 60-acre tract.
Chair O'Keefe stated that this was an important suggestion.
Steven stated he would work on that.
Don stated that since the 170th Meeting of the INPC, Mary Kay Solecki signed up Riedle's Bluffs NHL, an 18-acre site in Clark County, which contains an undisturbed sandstone cliff. The owners are Roy and Debbie Riedle of Marshall. There are now 127 NHL, totally 5730 acres. The NHL program is a non-binding program. The Commission works with private landowners to protect the land, inform them of the importance of the area, and build to other forms of protection in the future.
Don stated that Bob Edgin finalized a management agreement with the IDOT and Illinois Power that will allow for management of Mulberry Grove Railroad Prairie Nature Preserve in Bond County. This railroad prairie is approximately four miles in length, and there are three endangered or threatened species on it. Prairies in southeastern Illinois are extremely rare, and it was a quite an accomplishment to have this protected.
Don stated that Steven Byers is Chair of the Chicago Wilderness Land Management Team. Chicago Wilderness is a coalition of 124 organizations garnering public support for restoration and management of the 200,000 acres of protected public land in the six county Chicago region. Steven represented the Land Management Team with a presentation of a new prescribed burn manual, and he served on the Chicago Wilderness Wetland Identification Project.
Bob Edgin and Angella Moorehouse attended the Illinois State Academy of Science's annual meeting in Macomb. Angella presented a paper on the butterflies of the Pike County natural areas in west central Illinois. Bob presented two papers on the control of exotic plant species in natural areas.
Debbie Newman organized a ceremony celebrating the Luella Schaefer Memorial Hill Prairies Land and Water Reserve in Monroe County. More than 50 people attended the ceremony. The attendees included adjacent landowners of the natural area. Attendees learned more about our programs and were able to listen to one landowner who was happy about the protection of his land. Commissioner Schwegman spoke at the ceremony, and he presented the landowner with a certificate from the Commission, along with the thanks of the Commission.
Don thanked Judy Faulkner Dempsey for her work with Jody Shimp, Mark Guetersloh, and the IDNR Conservation Police in organizing the field trip that was held yesterday.
Randy Heidorn updated the Commission on the special use permit activity. He stated that once an area is protected, there are several activities done to oversee and maintain the sites. One program which is vital is the special use permit. This permit is issued to individuals who want to do research or other activities that would not ordinarily be allowed on a nature preserve site or when there are groups of over 25 visiting a preserve. Kelly Neal is the Stewardship Project Manager, and she has been in charge of this ever growing program for the last year. As of this date, 329 permits have been issued in 2001. This is an increase of approximately 25 permits from the previous year. This program continues to grow primarily because people are finding that nature preserves are an important resource for conducting research. Kelly has also been involved with is conducting the first review of management plans and proposed activities. She identifies issues, works with the landowners or managers, and brings them to staff attention. Certain issues are brought to the Commission for resolution.
Randy updated the Commission on Flora Prairie Nature Preserve in Boone County. As reported at the 170th Meeting of the INPC, Boone County was being sued by Quality Aggregates, Inc., for denying a special use permit for a quarry adjacent to Flora Prairie Nature Preserve. The Commission was asked to review a number of documents and comment to the owner, Boone County Conservation District (BCCD). A letter was prepared, and it was sent to the BCCD. The key points in that letter included a request to enlarged the buffer to 150 feet around Flora Prairie Nature Preserve and increased monitoring of the impacts resulting from the lowering of the groundwater in the area. If negative impacts did occur within the nature preserve, there are legal remedies that the Commission could seek. The BCCD provided Quality Aggregates, Inc., with a copy of our letter. The Commission staff was subpoenaed by Quality Aggregates, Inc., for documents related to Flora Prairie Nature Preserve. Subsequently there has been a meeting with the BCCD and Quality Aggregates consultants to come to a decision on how they would address our comments. Quality Aggregates, in their proposal, has agreed to increase the monitoring as requested, but they have not agreed to the increased buffer area that was requested. That proposal was presented at a meeting that John Nelson and John Alesandrini attended. The BCCD has asked the Commission to review those documents and provide comments. We are currently reviewing the documents.
Chair O'Keefe stated that the BCCD has come to the Commission for support for a position they have taken. This shows that the BCCD values what they have, and they have done a good job in partnering. They are the lead here, and they are simply asking the Commission to provide them with the materials that they need to make a determination.
Randy clarified that Boone County is the one being sued. BCCD is the landowner, and they are not being sued.
Randy stated that the Volunteer Stewardship Network (VSN) had its quarterly steering committee meeting on April 25, 2001, at Goose Lake Prairie State Park. A great deal of time was spent discussing how the VSN should function and how to promote the VSN. TNC has expanded Dave Wachtel's position as a VSN coordinator from northeastern Illinois to a statewide position. At the same time, TNC has hired a part-time person to work in the Chicago office to support the VSN. They are in the process of hiring a part-time person to work in the Peoria office. TNC has made a major commitment to continue the VSN. Another effort that TNC has done within their organization is that they have redefined where they are going to work. They felt that the VSN was a conservation strategy. As such, the VSN has been placed under the conservation science program led by Jim Herkert, formerly of the ESPB. TNC has also agreed to support projects from the VSN. The IDNR, through the INPC, this last year helped support the VSN by providing $5,000 worth of safety equipment for them. It is hoped that this level of support will continue.
Randy stated that this year's prescribed fire season has been completed, and it was a very busy season. The staff was involved in prescribed burning of prairie, woodland, savanna, and wetland nature preserves around the State. Debbie Newman led three burns and assisted with three more. John Alesandrini assisted with two burns. Kelly Neal assisted with two burns. Tom Lerczak led three burns and assisted with four more. Angella Moorehouse led or assisted with seven burns. Kim Roman assisted with seven burns. Steven Byers led or assisted with five burns. Bob Edgin worked on 34 different burns.
Chair O'Keefe introduced Jack White, a new consultant to the INPC.
Jack White stated that he wanted to thank Vicky Ranney for recommending him to the Commission. Jack stated that Commissioner Schwegman has had a lot to do with his career as John arranged for him to be hired by the Commission right out of college. At the time, Commissioner Schwegman was a Commission field representative. Jack stated that over the years, he has become more and more identified with the INAI project. There were 47 paid employees on that project, and there were hundreds of people who volunteered their time and information. Twenty-five years later, the project needs to be updated. He felt that it served us well, but it may now be holding us back. We have far bigger abilities and needs for information, and we can do a lot more as far as preservation. He would like to see the INAI catch up. He is heartened to see that Patti Reilly is working with the INPC to revamp the criteria. He would like to see the whole project revitalized with new INAI criteria and new methods.
171-6) IDNR Staff Report
Glen Kruse stated that Tim Hickmann is now the Deputy Director of the ORC. Tim is working under the direct supervision of Kirby Cottrell. Tim's function will be to act as the day-to-day supervisor and coordinator of the activities of the four ORC Divisions in Springfield. There have been problems maintaining contact with Kirby because he is often occupied with issues that go beyond ORC. Things have been flowing more smoothly with Tim in this new position, and it gives us someone to go to day-to-day. Glen stated that this is the conclusion of the restructuring of ORC for the foreseeable future, and that there will continue to be four divisions.
Glen stated that Jody Shimp is now the Region V Natural Heritage Administrator. Dave Cooper retired at the end of March, 2001, and Jody has taken over those responsibilities in Region V.
There were two acquisitions finalized from the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF). Eighty acres at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Jasper County were purchased for $180,000. This property was purchased from the Illinois Audubon Society in an ongoing cooperative effort with the Audubon Society to increase the size of that preserve. The second NAAF purchase was Falling Down Prairie in JoDaviess County. This acquisition was for 108 acres for just under $240,000. This property was purchased from a private landowner. The Commission will be reviewing the proposed acquisition list for Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 at the 172nd Meeting of the INPC on August 7, 2001. That list has been drafted, and it is being reviewed within the IDNR.
Glen stated that there has been a new round of Open Land Trust (OLT) acquisitions announced. The Governor put out the press release on April 20, 2001, announcing the 13 acquisitions. The OLT will help to acquire 115 acres along Thorn Creek in southeastern Cook County for approximately $937,000. Elsah Township in Jersey County received $202,500 to acquire 191 acres along Piasa Creek. Kane County Forest Preserve District (KCFPD) received just over $500,000 to assist them in acquiring 268 acres adjacent to the existing 443-acre Burlington Prairie Forest Preserve. The Village of South Barrington in Cook County is acquiring 70 acres of the Klehm nursery property. In St. Clair County, the county received $224,000 to help acquire approximately 150 acres along Silver Creek. This property is adjacent to 98 acres that the county recently acquired.
Glen updated the Commission on the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA). House Resolution (HR) 701 was introduced again in this year's Congress. It has gone into committee, and hearings will be scheduled. Last year, even though the overall CARA bill did not pass, there were two separate $50 million appropriations that were approved. One of those was in the appropriation bill for the departments of Commerce, Justice, and State. Progress is being made toward getting that money out to the states which is being allocated on a formula basis. Illinois is scheduled to receive approximately $1.65 million. The IDNR has submitted its wildlife conservation and restoration program comprehensive plan which was the required first step in receiving that money. That plan has been approved, and the IDNR is in the first round of states to have those plans approved. There is a preliminary project list that has been put together, and it will be presented for review by the Executive Committee of the Conservation Congress in May, 2001. The list will then go to the Natural Resources Advisory Board at their meeting on June 21, 2001, for public input on which projects should be pursued. The second $50 million was in the Department of Interior's appropriation. It has not been determined how this money will be distributed. Glen stated that he would keep the Commission updated on the progress of this.
Glen stated that the proposed administrative rule for the incidental take under the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act was published on April 13, 2001. The public comment period is open until May 29, 2001. One application has been received from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for authorization of incidental take, and that request is out for public review until May 6, 2001. This application is being processed under the provisions of the statute itself. The USACE is requesting to take a number of Illinois chorus frogs. They have proposed conservation actions that would benefit the frogs in hopes of receiving the IDNR's authorization for that take. A decision will not be made until after the public comment period has expired.
Glen stated that incidental take means to allow someone to take (in this sense meaning to kill or injure) an endangered animal in the course of an otherwise legal activity. In the case of the USACE, it is their routine dredging activity of the Illinois River. This activity is regulated by several different federal and state laws. The USACE is in compliance with those laws, but the site they have chosen will likely kill some Illinois chorus frogs by burying them in sand that has been dredged from the river. To request incidental take authorization, the applicant has to submit a conservation plan in an attempt to convince the IDNR that they will ultimately do the species more good than harm, that they will be protecting additional habitat, or that they will be enhancing nearby habitat to benefit that species. The objective of the incidental take is to allow those activities to continue, and ultimately benefit, the animal species that might be affected.
Chair O'Keefe asked if those proposed regulations were on the IDNR web site.
Glen stated that the IDNR web site does now include all of the proposed administrative rules.
Commissioner Schwegman asked if the incidental take rules also apply to threatened species.
Glen stated that the incidental take rules apply to threatened and endangered animal species. The rules do not apply to plants because there is limited authority on plants in general.
Commissioner Drucker asked if the requesting party needs to show that they have no other alternative other than to commit the incidental take.
Glen stated that an alternatives analysis is part of what the requesting party has to complete in this process.
Chair O'Keefe asked if many comments are expected on the proposed incidental take rules.
Glen stated that he has received one written comment and two by email. The end of the comment period for the USACE's request is May 6, 2001. The proposed administration rule comment period is open until May 29, 2001.
Keith Shank stated that Deanna Glosser is now working in the Deputy Director's office, heading up the IDNR's efforts for strategic planning. The position of Division Chief for Resource Review and Coordination is currently open, and the Department is moving to fill that spot.
Keith stated that Section 17 of the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act establishes the Consultation Program. It requires that state and local units of government avoid planning actions that will adversely affect nature preserves and natural areas, and it requires them to consult the IDNR whenever they are going to authorize, fund, or perform an action that potentially may adversely affect a nature preserve. They are to evaluate the consequences of that through a process of consultation. There is a staff of 10 people that are dedicated towards implementing the consultation process. In the last quarter, his office received 2,048 proposed actions from various local governments and state agencies. Of those, approximately 36 were in the vicinity of a nature preserve or land and water reserve and had the potential to have an adverse impact. After each case was reviewed, it was decided that 18 cases would not have any impact. A dialogue was opened on seven others, and the process was wrapped up on eight more. Currently the Office of Natural Resource Review and Coordination is working on consultations with approximately 44 nature preserves and land and water reserves. This represents approximately 1% of things that came in that quarter. Most of them do not involve threatened and endangered species. Keith stated that most of the action has been at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. He feels that the Village Hall consultation was
successful because even the former Village Board took the comments seriously and spent a significant amount of money doing hydrogeologic surveys to try to assess the impacts to the nature preserve and to minimize the impacts. He is heartened that the public was so engaged in that issue, and he would like to acknowledge the efforts of Al Wilson, volunteer steward. He looks forward to working with the new Village Board and the MCCD.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that all registration agreements for today's land and water reserve presentations are signed and executed by the landowner as required by administrative rule.
171-7) DuPage and Kane Co. - Tri-County Wetland Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Dan Kirk presented a proposal to register Tri-County Wetland (TWC) as a land and water reserve. TCW is a 31.5-acre ephemeral wetland, owned by the IDNR, located within the 500-acre Tri-County State Park. TCW is in the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division and is bisected by Kane and DuPage counties. TCW is included on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #1443) due to the state-listed dwarf bur reed (Sparganium chlorocarpum). A trail system is planned around the wetland. Management of Tri-County State Park and the Land and Water Reserve is scheduled to be given to the DuPage County Forest Preserve District in the near future. Registration will allow a greater degree of protection for this endangered plant and its habitat.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Fraker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Tri-County Wetland in DuPage and Kane counties, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 7 of the Agenda for the 171st Meeting.
171-8) McHenry Co. - Black-Crown Marsh Land and Water Reserve, Registration
The registration proposal for Black-Crown Marsh Land and Water Reserve was deferred to the August 7, 2001, meeting.
171-9) Washington Co. - Chip-O-Will Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Debbie Newman presented a proposal to register Chip-O-Will as a land and water reserve. The proposed Chip-O-Will Land and Water Reserve is a 55-acre high-quality southern flatwoods community representative of the Effingham Plain Section of the Southern Till Plain Natural Division. The proposed reserve is part of the 182-acre Sipple Slough INAI site (#866). Chip-O-Will also contains populations of the state-endangered buffalo clover (Trifolium reflexum) and contains several prairie plants in the flatwoods understory. Chip-O-Will is owned jointly by John, Marion and Vera Mueller, and David and Donna Koderhandt. The owners are proposing to register the land for 10 years, with automatic renewal.
Debbie recognized and introduced Mr. John Mueller, one of the landowners of Chip-O-Will. Debbie stated her appreciation to Mr. Mueller for his assistance in getting this area protected.
Commissioner Schwegman asked if the pond was man-made or natural.
Debbie stated that the pond was man-made, but the age of the pond is not known.
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Chip-O-Will in Washington County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 9 of the Agenda for the 171st Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe and Commissioner Drucker thanked Mr. Mueller and his family for protecting this property.
Mr. Mueller stated that he would like to thank Debbie Newman for her work on this project. He remembers from his childhood that there were whip-poor-wills on this site. He was gone from the area for several years while in the Marine Corps. When he moved back, he started taking his boys to the property. He noticed that the property changed quite a bit. He found that there were not as many whip-poor-wills, and he noticed other subtle changes. He felt sad and tried to explain the changes to his children. This was his motivation to protect the area, to allow his children to have the benefit of seeing a piece of nature that he saw as a child. He also wanted to thank Diane Tecic and Marty Kemper. He felt this was a learning process, and they were all very helpful in educating him. He stated that there is another 90 acres in the area that he is actively trying to acquire. Once that land is acquired, he would like to see it protected in a similar fashion. He also stated that he looks forward to working with Debbie on the land management plan.
171-10) LaSalle Co. - Addition to Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve, Dedication
Kim Roman presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve. Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve is a 17-acre site owned by the IDNR. The IDNR proposes to dedicate a 12-acre addition to the preserve. The preserve and the proposed addition contain sandstone cliffs representative of the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division and frontage along the Fox River, recognized by the INAI (#455) 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 (Moxostoma carinatum). The state-endangered snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and the state-threatened forked aster (Aster furcatus) occur in the proposed addition. The addition will increase the total acreage of Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve to 29 acres and lengthen the Nature Preserve's river frontage by approximately 700 feet. Legal public access to the proposed addition and the existing Nature Preserve is restricted by way of the river. While boating is illegal in nature preserves, canoeist will be allowed to continue to pull their canoes from the river onto this small flood plain which is located in between Blake's Landing and the proposed addition. Visitor use of the site is minimal so the IDNR has no plans for any development. It will be managed solely for its natural heritage resources.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that he has been to this site, and he was very impressed. He feels it is nature preserve quality.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Sommerhof, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve in LaSalle County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 171st Meeting.
171-11) Monroe Co. - Pautler Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal on behalf of the Karst Conservancy for preliminary approval for the dedication of Pautler Nature Preserve. Debbie stated that Philip Moss, President of the Karst Conservancy, was unable to be here today because of a work conflict. The proposed Pautler Nature Preserve is a 3.18-acre site owned by the Karst Conservancy of Illinois that includes a portion of Pautler Cave, which is part of the Pautler Cave System INAI site (#1597). The cave system contains a high-quality aquatic and terrestrial cave community representative of the Northern Section of the Ozark Natural Division and provides habitat for the largest number of troglobites (obligate cave dwellers) of any cave in Illinois. The cave system also contains abundant populations of the state and federally endangered Illinois Cave Amphipod (Gammarus acherondytes). The proposed preserve includes a sinkhole containing an entrance to the cave, a small portion of cave passage, and a significant cave stream, as well as grade C dry-mesic upland forest and a small amount of old field on the surface. The Karst Conservancy installed a bat-friendly gate over the entrance of the cave to keep it from further vandalism. It is their desire to have a strict policy of allowing researchers into the cave. A small parking area to accommodate three or four cars will be placed in the flat old field area. The Karst Conservancy would also like to erect a wooden privacy screen so the cave researchers can change their clothes after coming out of the cave. A few of the trees will also be removed from the sinkhole.
Carolyn asked if there are any plans to acquire any of the adjacent property.
Debbie stated that there was an effort by the IDNR to purchase an additional 70 acres adjacent to this area that is mixed forest and agriculture. It is full of sinkholes that go into the Pautler system. No agreement has been reached at this time.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that former INPC Commissioner Stan Harris is the co-author of The Caves of Illinois, and Jack White is a caver.
Stan Harris stated that in 1956 or 1957 he went into Pautler Cave. As it has been indicated, the cave opening has been closed to the public most of the time. It is a very interesting cave. He stated that Philip Moss asked him if he would be a board member of the Karst Conservancy, and he agreed. He stated that the Karst Conservancy is doing a worthwhile project. Phil has worked in karst regions professionally since his graduate work several years ago. He currently works for Ozark Underground Laboratory in Missouri, but he is still active in our region. He stated that he hoped the Commission would support the efforts of the Karst Conservancy, and he felt that Pautler Cave was a valuable resource.
Jack White stated that he was also asked to be on the board of the Karst Conservancy. He stated that he has known Philip Moss since he was in high school. Exploring caves is difficult work. The Karst Conservancy of Illinois is a new group, and it has great ambitions. He stated that he supports this dedication.
Chair O'Keefe stated that she has some concerns about the privacy screen.
Debbie stated that the Karst Conservancy would erect a 5' x 10' privacy screen adjacent to the parking area which is not close to the cave area.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Pautler Nature Preserve in Monroe County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 171st Meeting.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that she wanted to recognize Judy Faulkner Dempsey, IDNR staff, and the Conservation Police Officers that helped organize the tour of the Cache River and Heron Pond on April 30, 2001. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful beauty of the area. She stated that Jody Shimp's staff did a wonderful job.
Randy Heidorn stated that he would like to recognize Debbie Reider for her efforts in organizing the Commission meetings.
A lunch break was taken from 12:25 p.m. - 1:05 p.m.
171-12) Kane Co. - Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve. Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow is a wetland complex owned by Ms. Patricia Hemmer Braddock, Mr. David Hemmer, and Mr. Joseph Hemmer. This wetland complex consists of three wetland basins that serve as the headwaters of the south branch of the Kishwaukee River and Coon Creek. The Hemmer's great grandfather, George Hemmer, Sr., homsteaded the property in 1842, and Hemmer Fen and Sedge Meadow has remained in the family for four generations. The Hemmer family has a strong attachment to the land and have supported management activities for several years. The area is included on the INAI (#1519) for its fen and sedge meadow communities representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Two of these wetland basins, Hemmer #1 (13.9 acres) and Hemmer #2 (13.6 acres) totaling 27.5 acres, were conferred preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 162nd Meeting in February, 1999 (Resolution #1461). Steven stated that the instruments of dedication have not been executed because of a family illness. Their mother has recently developed a serious heart condition. Based upon a verbal conversation last week with the family, they will sign the dedication documents in the near future.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final 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 12 of the Agenda for the 171st Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe asked Steven to convey the Commission's thanks to the Hemmer family and wishes for the good health of their mother.
171-13) Lake Co. - North Park Addition of Nature Preserve and Nature Preserve Buffer to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal on behalf of the Village of Lincolnshire for final approval for the dedication of the North Park Addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve. The Village of Lincolnshire proposes to dedicate 38 acres of
North Park as an addition to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve. Of the 38-acre total, approximately 18 acres are proposed for dedication as nature preserve and 20 acres are 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. 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). The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of the North Park addition at its 170th Meeting (Resolution #1570) in February, 2001.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Drucker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of the North Park Addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Florsheim Park Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 171st Meeting.
Commissioner Drucker asked if the orchids were hand-pollinated.
Steven stated that the orchids have been hand-pollinated at this site as part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Orchid Recovery Plan in cooperation with TNC.
171-14) Peoria Co. - Singing Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Angella Moorehouse presented a proposal for final 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 695.85 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. The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 170th Meeting (Resolution #1572) in February, 2001. The Peoria Park District owns more land that is dedicated that any other park district in the State. The dedication of this site will more than double that total. Angella stated that she received assistance in this project from TNC, local and national Audubon Societies, Sierra Club, Peoria Park District staff, and the Peoria Park District Board.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Ellis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final 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 171st Meeting.
Chair O'Keefe asked Angella to convey the thanks of the Commission to the Peoria Park District for their leadership role.
171-15) Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve - Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Randy Heidorn stated that the negotiations continue regarding the road cleanup and how it will be paid for. The IDNR received a letter of notification from the USEPA that, since this road is on their property, the IDNR will in part be responsible for the cleanup. Johns Manville has been talking with the Attorney General's office, IEPA, USEPA, INPC, and the IDNR regarding how this will be done and who will provide the funds. There are no changes in the terms of the way the USEPA is thinking. They still approve of picking up the pieces as they come to the surface.
Randy stated that there is a proposal to place dredge spoil material from the Waukegan Harbor cleanup into a contained disposal facility at the Johns Manville site. That disposal facility is the original settling pond used in the Johns Manville manufacturing. The IEPA has determined that putting the dredge in the settling basin creates a landfill and that landfill siting requirements must be met. Those requirements require the applicant to get documentation from the INPC that a facility will not pose a threat of harm to a nature preserve. We received a general request from the USACE regarding potential impacts to the nature preserve. The IDNR received a similar request. We assessed what information was available and concluded that we did not have enough information to make a determination. Staff sent a letter outlining in detail the technical information that is necessary for the Commission to make that determination to Philip Bernstein of the USACE on March 20, 2001. That letter was included in the Commissioners' Agenda packet. No formal response has been received as of this date. We do not consider the USACE letter to have been a request under the IEPA's landfill siting regulations.
171-16) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Stan Harris stated that there are 80 sites in the Shawnee National Forest that were recognized in the INAI, and the Forest Service has designated them as natural areas. Approximately 40 of these sites were set aside a few years ago from use by equestrians. The remaining 41 were not so designated. Eight of these sites have trails that permit equestrian crossing. The damage that has been done in the last ten years or so is indicated in the photographs that are on display. Fortunately, the other 41 sites have also been listed as off limits to equestrian use. Approximately 15 horse camps have been built right next door to some of the finest natural areas. Up until approximately a year ago, the horse camp owners have pursued equestrians from all over the midwest to come and use the trails regardless of whether they were natural areas or not. Many new trails were made. Enough uproar has come about, perhaps especially by members of the Sierra Club and other concerned equestrians of our region, to make the horse camp people back off a little bit. He asked the INPC to make some statement, a letter perhaps, to the Forest Supervisor to give support to the present limitation of use of those natural areas. For the most part, the natural areas have no particular attraction to the equestrians. There are many who do not understand what a natural area is supposed to be. They can see nothing special about it, and they do not understand why they could not use it. A number of meetings have been held, and he made an impassioned statement to a large group of people who had no knowledge of the natural areas. Mr. Harris stated that he felt that it had some impact. The more support that comes to the Forest Supervisor, the more chance there is that the present limitation be maintained.
Chair O'Keefe thanked Stan for his remarks. She stated that this has been an issue that the INPC has been following closely. The staff has invested a lot of time with this issue. This may be a good time to renew this commitment by sending a letter to the Forest Supervisor.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that this is something that the Commission has been monitoring for a long time. The Commission was pleased to see those final areas closed. It is one thing to close them, but it is another issue to have them posted so the closure can be enforced. Carolyn stated that the Commission has made it clear to the Forest Supervisor that the Commission is be willing to assist in that effort. Bob Edgin has donated his time to do plant surveys. He has also helped in the effort to get the areas posted.
Jody Shimp stated that the closures seem to be working for the most part.
Carolyn asked if Jody was seeing any revegetation of the damage that has occurred.
Jody stated that there is some evidence of the early stages of revegetation. The introduction of exotics by the horses has occurred to a limited extent, but not in great amounts because of the heavy use. Any exotic species establishment was getting trampled, and now that the use has been stopped, the exotic vegetation has increased.
Carolyn stated that Congressman Phelps called a meeting approximately two weeks ago to discuss the equestrian issue, however, the INPC was not invited. The IDNR was represented at this meeting, and the Commission staff felt that its concerns were conveyed by the IDNR. Barb McKasson of the Sierra Club also attended this meeting, as well as some of the equestrians. Carolyn stated that the meeting was to keep a dialogue going among the various groups. A letter could be sent to Forest Supervisor Starkey to re-emphasize to him that the Commission is interested in continuing to monitor this situation and to lend whatever support it can to the Forest Service.
Judy Faulkner Dempsey stated that she is in contact with Forest Supervisor Starkey on a regular basis. She stated that he wanted to come to the INPC meeting today, however, his schedule did not permit that. She felt that the Commission does have a good relationship with the Forest Service.
Barbara McKasson stated that she has been in close contact on this issue. She would like to see these natural areas marked and closed more quickly. Equestrians and all terrain vehicle (ATV) riders cannot be given tickets unless the area has been marked with signs. At least 44 (approximately 7,530 acres) of the 80 areas have been completely posted. Ten years ago there were approximately five horse camps. Now there are approximately 25 horse camps. They intentionally settled next to some of the large natural areas such as Jackson Hole, Double Branch Hole, Jackson Hollow and Lusk Creek. User-made trails have increased, and some people have been cutting trees to make new trails. A trail was cut through Martha's Woods last year. Three new trails that have been cut through Double Branch Hole Natural Area were discovered by natural areas advocates this spring. The natural area markers were vandalized in this area. In the last week, someone blazed a fake official trail through Jackson Hole Natural Area. The Forest Service is going through a process of possibly allowing equestrian trails through seven of the natural areas. She said that the Sierra Club opposes that.
Carolyn Grosboll asked if those trails were the ones that were grandfathered in under the original forest plan.
Barbara stated that they were, however, there are two that are totally inappropriate because they are too steep. These two sites are at Bulge Hole and Little Grand Canyon.
Barbara stated that she is asking the INPC and other individuals to write to Forest Supervisor Starkey with copies to Representative Costello and Representative Phelps to urge them to do three specific things which would be to speed up the process of marking the remaining natural areas, have better law enforcement in these natural areas, and to require special use permits so the campground owners would have to give maps to their customers and educate the people as to why it is important to stay out of the natural area.
Carolyn suggested that Senator Durbin and Senator Fitzgerald be added to the list to receive a copy of the letter to Forest Supervisor Starkey.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that he wrote a personal letter to Forest Supervisor Starkey approximately ten days ago regarding Martha's Woods. He has not received a response as of this date.
Chair O'Keefe stated that the Commission will draft a letter that will address these concerns, and it will be sent to Forest Supervisor Starkey with copies to the appropriate people.
Marilyn Campbell updated the Commission on what the Illinois Audubon Society has been doing at Prairie Ridge. In December, 2000, the Illinois Audubon Society purchased another 40 acres in Jasper County. This is adjacent to some of the State property. In January, 2001, another 30 acres was purchased at an auction in Jasper County. In March, 2001, the Illinois Audubon Society closed on 200 acres in Marion County which included an 80-acre site which was purchased with the help of a C2000 grant. This will be maintained as a sanctuary, and it will be managed in conjunction with the rest of the Prairie Ridge area. They are continuing to work for the grassland species.
171-17) Other Business
John Nelson presented a proposal for the Barber Fen Nippersink Creek streambank stabilization and restoration project (SSRP). Barber Fen Nature Preserve is located in the northeast portion of McHenry County and is in the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. The INPC dedicated Barber Fen Nature Preserve in 1990. Barber Fen Nature Preserve is 18.5 acres in size and contains seven natural communities. The Nippersink Creek is a high-quality aquatic community flowing through Barber Fen Nature Preserve. It is a clear sand and gravel bottom stream that naturally meanders across its floodplain. Recent fish and mussel surveys by the IDNR and MCCD classify the Nippersink as a borderline A-B high-quality aquatic resource. This is a rare distinction for creeks in northeastern Illinois. Several high-quality graminoid fens represent the significant natural communities at Barber Fen Natural Preserve. Sedge meadows surround these fens. As part of the streambank stabilization, part of the bank will be lost as the area is graded to a more gentle slope.
The management problem is severe along most of the bankline within Barber Fen Nature Preserve. It threatens to destroy the fen wetlands for which the nature preserve was dedicated. Parts of Barber Fen Nature Preserve are literally falling into Nippersink Creek. If left unchecked, not only will the fen and sedge meadow communities be lost, but the increased sediment load to Nippersink Creek threatens to degrade that system as well.
The SSRP has been proposed for the summer of 2001, pending Commission approval and successful grant funding through the McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District. The project would stabilize a 1,600 foot section of Nippersink Creek. The plan is to grade the current four to six foot vertical banks to a shallow 5:1 slope where practical. There are some places where the fen wetlands are so close to the riverbank that they may only be able to obtain a 3:1 or 2:1 slope after grading. After the bank is properly graded, the new bank is sewn with cover crop mixed with seeds and plugs of native wet prairie and sedge meadow species. A heavy-duty, biodegradable fiber matting is then installed over the bank to hold things in place until the native vegetation can take hold. Native rock is then placed at the toe of the new slope, below the waterline to prevent the undercutting. Also, bendway weirs will be installed in places where the water flow needs to be sent away from the bank into the main channel of Nippersink Creek.
On behalf of the Aavang family and the MCCD, the Commission staff recommends approval of the proposed SSRP at Barber Fen Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Schwegman asked if there was any information on how fast the bank is receding.
John stated that he visited with John Aavang, site steward and son of the owners. He described sections of Barber Fen Nature Preserve and Nippersink Creek that have moved approximately 20 feet in a ten-year period. Some places are worse than others.
Randy Heidorn stated that McHenry County has had increased development within the Nippersink Creek watershed, so the volume of water that is being dealt with is considerable. He stated that he investigated this area when he was a District Heritage Biologist prior to the dedication, and there were none of these kinds of things occurring at that time. It is a rapid process, and it is a similar process which was dealt with at the Cache River and Heron Pond Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Allread stated that these properties have to be continually monitored to protect what already has been protected because of the changing environments.
John stated that the MCCD has a great deal of experience in bank stabilization along Nippersink Creek. They remeandered the Nippersink in Glacial Park. They have the biologist behind the wheel of the machinery, and they understand the significance of the site.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval of the proposal for the Barber Fen Nature Preserve Nippersink streambank stabilization and restoration project.
Randy Heidorn presented a proposal to place water lines within Prairie Ridge State Natural Area Land and Water Reserve for a rural water supply. The water lines are planned to run along existing roads next to some of the areas registered as a land and water reserve. The boundaries of the land and water reserves are to the middle of the road. The water lines would be in the land and water reserve, however, they would have no direct impact on the resource of the area. This would be consistent with the management plan for the site. Randy stated that since there would be no direct impact on the resources of Prairie Ridge State Natural Area Land and Water Reserve, he would recommend that the Commission approve allowing the water lines within the land and water reserve.
Chair O'Keefe asked why this side of the road has been chosen.
Randy stated that in some cases both sides of the road are within the land and water reserve. Also, E-J Water Corporation said they could not switch to the other side of the road for design reasons. Since the IDNR has no authority to grant easements on their property, they could not grant an easement for this water line. E-J Water Corporation stated they would be willing to place the water lines even without easements as long as they did not have to change the design and location of the water line.
Carolyn Grosboll asked if easements were required as part of their grant through the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).
Randy stated that the easements were originally required, however, they have talked with one of the federal rural water organizations. They agreed to let the water lines to go in without easements.
Chair O'Keefe asked what area this water main is serving.
Randy stated the water line will serve the rural landowners in the region.
Marilyn Campbell stated that she talked with Scott Simpson about this. Scott advised her that several of the farmers have shallow wells and have difficulty with water during a drought. The farmers were concerned that the Illinois Audubon Society or the INPC would stand in the way of their getting their rural water system. Several people have already talked with Scott and said that they hoped the State would not stand in the way of their getting a consistent water supply.
Chair O'Keefe asked if the area to be disturbed when placing the water line will be restored since there is no easement with conditions. She also asked what provisions were in place for the company to enter the property to repair a water main.
Randy stated that there is a license that the IDNR will provide that requires restoration. He said that the provisions for repair of a water main are also listed within that license.
Commissioner Ellis asked Randy to elaborate on prior precedence that the INPC has allowed in the past that is similar to this request.
Randy stated that there was no precedence for this use for a land and water reserve. In nature preserve buffer, the Commission has allowed forced main sewers without easements. The Commission does not have the ability to allow this kind of use within a nature preserve. The standard that has been used within a land and water reserve is whether or not a use will negatively impact the resource for which the area was set aside.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Drucker, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval to place water lines within Prairie Ridge State Natural Area Land and Water Reserve along existing roadways.
Carolyn asked if the IDNR requires a fee as part of the license agreement.
Randy stated that an agreement was negotiated that future connection fees would be waived for Department properties in this area.
Commissioner Allread updated the Commission on the plans for the 300th INPC nature preserve dedication celebration. She stated that the desire of the 300th celebration is to broaden the public understanding and appreciation of what the INPC is doing and what the participation from private and public landowners has meant. We want to use the celebration as an opportunity to highlight what the INPC has done, is doing, and what the entire system means to the State of Illinois. To do that, it was decided at the 170th Meeting of the INPC to have a committee appointed to look at how we might draw public attention to the 300th dedication. We discussed the possibility of designing new brochures, a press kit, and some things to help tell the INPC's story. Members of the committee met last evening and moved the plans forward.
Commissioner Allread stated that a tentative date for the celebration at White Pines State Park is September 12, 2001. The celebration will also be in conjunction with introducing the new signage that has been done this year. Such events take some funding, and the committee discussed potential ways of raising moneys. In the short time period, it was felt that the best way to raise funds would be to go to those who believe most in the nature preserves system. This would include current and past Commissioners, foundations, and organizations who are friendly to conservation issues. It is estimated that this celebration will cost $20,000 which will cover publication costs, expenses for printing and design, staging of the event, and other support aspects of a public relations campaign. In the next couple of months, Carolyn will be addressing the Outdoor Writers Conference and talking about the INPC. A public display will be put together that can be used at state parks, nature preserve events, and at the Illinois State Fair. A media relations campaign will be started which will include letters to the editor and an opinion editorial piece that will be submitted to daily newspapers around the State with the main message of what the nature preserve system means to the residents of Illinois.
Chair O'Keefe stated that she felt this would be an opportunity to let the public know about what the INPC does and create interest on the part of landowners to dedicate their land.
Stan Harris stated that his Audubon group is now soliciting the membership for places to give donations.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Schwegman, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.