(subject to approval of Commission at 177th Meeting)
Wildlife Prairie State Park
3826 North Taylor Road
Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 9:00 a.m.
Cass Co. Charles Chinee Colvin Sand Prairie Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Tazewell Co. Fon du Lac Seep Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Wabash Co. Beall Woods Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Lake Co. Addition of Nature Preserve Buffer to Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Madison Co. Great Rivers Addition to John M. Olin Nature Preserve, Dedication
Marshall Co. Oak Bluff Savanna Nature Preserve, Dedication
McHenry Co. Amberin Ash Ridge Nature Preserve, Dedication
Lake Co. Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve, Dedication
Lee Co. Addition to Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Logan Co. Sandra Miller Bellrose Nature Preserve, Dedication
Logan Co. Addition to Sandra Miller Bellrose Nature Preserve, Dedication
McHenry Co. Lee Miglin Savanna Addition of Nature Preserve Buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Putnam Co. Thomas W. and Elizabeth Moews Dore Seep Nature Preserve, Dedication
Lake Co. Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve - Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Call to Order
Adoption of Agenda
Approval of the Minutes of the 175th Meeting, May 7, 2002
Next Meeting Schedule
2003 Proposed Meeting Schedule
Election of Officers - INPC Nominating Committee Report
Election of Advisors and Consultants
INPC Staff Report
IDNR Staff Report
40th Anniversary of the Nature Preserves Commission
Natural Areas Acquisition Fund Fiscal Year 2003 Land Acquisition and Stewardship Proposal
Public Comment Period
At 9:30 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair OKeefe, the meeting began.
Chair OKeefe introduced two new Commissioners, Jill Riddell and Bruce Ross-Shannon.
Chair OKeefe stated that Commissioner Riddell is a writer, and she has had articles and essays published in Chicago magazine, Garden Design magazine, Chicago Wilderness magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. Her stories focus primarily on nature. Commissioner Riddell is a former Openlands Project staff member, and she has also worked for The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
Chair OKeefe stated that Commissioner Ross-Shannon is a partner in the law firm of McGreevy, Johnson & Williams, P.C. She stated that the legal expertise that Commissioner Ross-Shannon will bring to the Commission will be helpful. Commissioner Ross-Shannon is a Trustee on the Board of the Natural Land Institute (NLI), the Second Vice President of the Winnebago County Bar Association, and the Director of the CSA Learning Center which, among other programs, provides educational opportunities and programs regarding organic and sustainable agriculture.
Carolyn Grosboll gave the roll call.
Members present: Jill Allread, Kristi DeLaurentiis, Harry Drucker, Lorin Nevling, Joyce OKeefe, Jill Riddell, Bruce Ross-Shannon, and John Schwegman.
Members absent: John Sommerhof.
Others present: Steven Byers, Judy Faulkner Dempsey, Bob Edgin, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Tammie McKay, Angella Moorehouse, John Nelson, Kelly Neal, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, Kim Roman, and Mary Kay Solecki, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Jennifer Aherin, Todd Bittner, Terry Esker, Glen Kruse, Bill McClain, Randy Nyboer, Brian Reilly, Patti Reilly, and Michelle Simone, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Carl Becker, Keith Shank, and Beth Whetsell, Office of Realty and Environmental Planning (OREP), IDNR; Dave Thomas, Illinois Natural History Survey, IDNR and INPC Advisor; Sue Dees and Barb Traeger, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); David Jansen and Jody Kershaw, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA); Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society (IAS) and INPC Consultant; Jim Coutts, Fon du Lac Park District, representing Fon du Lac Seep Land and Water Reserve; Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, representing Oak Bluff Savanna Nature Preserve; Roger Beadles, representing Beadles Barrens Nature Preserve; Ed and Rita Martin.
Chair OKeefe recognized two retiring Commissioners, Jonathan Ellis and Dianne Burton.
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission wishes to recognize the contributions of Jonathan A. Ellis during his tenure as a Commissioner from 1997 to 2002. Jon served with distinction as Secretary of the Commission from 1999 to 2000 and as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2000 to 2001. 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 Schwegman, seconded by Ross-Shannon, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission wishes to recognize the contributions of Dianne Logan Burton during her tenure as a Commissioner from 1997 to 2002. Her many accomplishments will be an ongoing tribute to the Commission for years to come. Her years of service with the Commission will be warmly remembered and her continuing commitment to and advocacy for the Commissions programs will always be greatly appreciated.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that Item 25 will be presented after Item 26 to allow for public comment period prior to having the discussion about the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF).
Chair OKeefe stated that additional time would also be available after Item 25 for the public to comment on the NAAF acquisition list.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Nevling and carried that the Agenda, as amended, be adopted.
Chair OKeefe asked for the following correction
to be made in the Minutes of the 175th Meeting, on page 28, Item 22, 7th line:
... remain the same as they are today if there was no further remediation.
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the Minutes of the 175th Meeting, May 7, 2002, as amended, be approved.
Chair OKeefe reported that at the 175th Meeting
of the INPC, held in Libertyville on May 7, 2002, legal protection for eight
tracts of land, totaling 665 acres, was approved by the Commission. Five of
the eight areas are owned by private individuals who donated the value of the
protection agreement to the public. One area is owned by a not-for-profit conservation
organization that also donated the value of the agreement. The dollar value
of the six tracts of private land is $326,000 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. Private lands protected without
State acquisition at the 175th Meeting of the INPC include Illinois River Sand
Areas Land and Water Reserve in Cass County, 40 acres; Elkhart Hill Grove Land
and Water Reserve in Logan County, 65 acres; McBrough Marsh Land and Water Reserve
in McHenry County, 3 acres; Robert Ridgway Grasslands Nature Preserve in Jasper
County, 26 acres; Elkhart Hill Grove Nature Preserve in Logan County, 65 acres;
and Amberin Ash Ridge Buffer addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve in
McHenry County, 10 acres. A total of 209 acres of private land was protected.
Protection of this land came about because the INPC has nine staff in the field
working with private landowners. There are now 308 dedicated nature preserves
in 79 counties, totaling 41,820 acres. There are 70 land and water reserves
in 42 counties, totaling 23,500 acres.
29 October, 10:00 a.m. - Rock Springs Center, Decatur
4 February, 10:00 a.m. - Illinois Department of Natural
6 May, 10:00 a.m. - Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford
5 August, 9:00 a.m. - Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield
28 October, 10:00 a.m. - Pere Marquette State Park Lodge, Grafton
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the 2003 Proposed Meeting Schedule be approved.
Commissioner Nevling stated that Commissioner DeLaurentiis and Commissioner Sommerhof also served as members of the Nominating Committee. He stated that the Committee wishes to place the following nominations for officers before the Commission for consideration: for Chair, Commissioner Jill Allread; for Vice-Chair, Commissioner Harry Drucker; and for Secretary, Commissioner John Schwegman. All have agreed to serve if elected.
Chair OKeefe asked for any nominations from the floor, and none were offered.
It was moved by DeLaurentiis, seconded by Riddell, and carried that the following Commissioners be elected as Officers of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission:
Jill Allread as Chair, Harry Drucker as Vice-Chair, and John Schwegman as Secretary.
Commissioner Nevling stated that a list of the nominated advisors and consultants is on the Agenda under Item 7. There are no changes from the current year.
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following be elected as advisors to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission:
Dr. William Shilts, Dr. George Vander Velde, and Dr. Derek Winstanley, and the following be elected as consultants to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Gerald Adelmann, Dr. Robert Betz, Bruce Boyd, Marilyn Campbell, John Comerio, Kenneth Fiske, Jerry Paulson, Al Pyott, Dr. Kenneth Robertson, Valerie Spale, John Schmitt, and John White.
Chair OKeefe thanked the Nominating Committee for putting together the slate of officers. She stated that it is a great pleasure to be turning the meeting over to the new INPC Chair, Jill Allread. She stated that it has been a pleasure serving as Chair of the Commission and to work with the Commissioners. She further added that her duty of chairing the Commission was made easier by the great staff.
Chair Allread stated that Commissioner OKeefe has been an extraordinary leader for the last two years. Commissioner OKeefe has guided the Commission during a time when it has added thousands of acres because of the work that staff is doing in the field and has set the benchmark high as Chair. Chair Allread stated that she was humbled by stepping into Commissioner OKeefes shoes. The other accomplishments Commissioner OKeefe has to her credit are the 300th Dedication Ceremony and the Strategic Plan which is a guide that will carry on much beyond her term here. On behalf of the Commission, Chair Allread thanked Commissioner OKeefe.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the Commissioners and the staff appreciated Commissioner OKeefes leadership, guidance, and vision. Since 1998, when she first came on the Commission, Commissioner OKeefe has been an advocate. She has always been there when an issue has come up, and she has always been on target to give the appropriate advice on what needed to be done. On behalf of the Commissioners and staff, Ms. Grosboll presented Commissioner OKeefe with a framed poster of the Spring Woodland Wildflowers of Illinois with a plaque which reads, This token of appreciation is presented to Joyce OKeefe in recognition of her exemplary and dedicated service to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission as its Chair from 2000-2002. Presented this 6th day of August, 2002.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that since the 175th INPC Meeting, staff have compiled and printed two publications. The Commissions Biennial Report for 1999-2000 was sent to the Governor in July as required by the Natural Areas Preservation Act. The Report provides a summary of the status of each nature preserve and land and water reserve. The Commission went through a strategic planning process during this last year, and the Commissions Strategic Plan for 2002-2007 was printed and distributed. The strategic planning process was organized and went very well. Ms. Grosboll stated that she especially wanted to thank Commissioners Allread and OKeefe for their contributions. This document will help the Commission to be proactive and will help establish priorities for the Commission over the next five years.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the Springfield-based Commission staff moved to the IDNRs new building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on June 26, 27, and 28, 2002. The process went smoothly. The building is very nice and provides the latest technology. The February, 2003 meeting has been scheduled in this building.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the General Assembly went into overtime this past legislative session to deal with a very difficult budget. In the course of putting a budget together, the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) was significantly impacted. The NAAF is funded from a portion of the Real Estate Transfer Tax and is to be used for the acquisition, preservation, and stewardship of natural areas. Since 1990, the NAAF has received 15% of the Real Estate Transfer Tax which most recently has generated approximately $9 million a year. During the past legislative session, the General Assembly permanently changed the percentage going into the NAAF from 15% to 5%, thus dropping the NAAF to approximately $3 million. In addition, the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Fund, which is also funded through the Real Estate Transfer Tax, was impacted. Its share of the Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue was permanently changed from 35% to 20%. The OSLAD Fund provides grants to local park districts to purchase open space and to develop existing parks.
Ms. Grosboll stated that since 1996, the NAAF has been used to fund the staff of the INPC, the Division of Natural Heritage, and a few other positions at IDNR. Last fiscal year, the Fund supported approximately 59 positions, including the 17 INPC staff members, as well as a land acquisition component of $5 million, and a stewardship component of $450,000.
Despite this change in formula, the General Assembly appropriated $1,181,400 to the Commissions program. This is what the IDNR had asked for on our behalf. However, if the money is not in the NAAF, it is not available. Obviously, this is of great concern. After the General Assembly left Springfield, the IDNRs fiscal officer did an assessment of moneys remaining in the Fund from previous fiscal years, and he was able to set aside enough money to get the Commission through the next two fiscal years without having to lay anybody off. The Director of the IDNR, Brent Manning, has said that it is his main priority not to have to lay anybody off. There will be little or no money for land acquisition or stewardship. Despite the lack of money, we will go through the process later in this meeting of reviewing and recommending properties for acquisition should money become available.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the good news is that there has been a bill introduced in the House to restore the Real Estate Transfer Tax formula for the NAAF to 15%. The bill is House Bill 6294 and is sponsored by 25 House members. The lead sponsor is Julie Hamos. There is discussion of bringing this Bill forward in the veto session in November. It will be very important to get that money restored in order to keep the Commissions program intact. Ms. Grosboll stated that she will continue to update the Commissioners on this topic.
Ms. Grosboll stated that another casualty of the budget process involved the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board (IESPB). Their budget was reduced to $700. As a result, on July 1st, the Boards Executive Director lost her job. Glen Kruse is the unofficial liaison in that position.
The General Assembly also passed a bill that authorizes the early retirement of eligible State employees. It is anticipated that up to 7,500 employees will take advantage of the early retirement. There are approximately 450 employees within the IDNR that are eligible, which is 20% of the IDNRs work force. This is going to be a huge drain on the Departments institutional knowledge. The earliest date an employee could retire was August 1st, and several people took advantage of that. John Alesandrini, the Commissions Natural Areas Preservation Specialist in Area 1, retired on August 1st. Ms. Grosboll stated that Mr. Alesandrini worked for the Commission for 13 years, dedicating 12 nature preserves and registering one land and water reserve, which was the first publicly-owned land and water reserve. He was instrumental in getting five natural heritage landmarks enrolled. The Commission wishes him and his family the best. Ms. Grosboll encouraged Mr. Alesandrini to keep in touch and to attend INPCs 179th Meeting to be held May 6, 2003, in Rockford.
Ms. Grosboll presented Mr. Alesandrini with a Distinguished Service Award which reads, In recognition of dedicated service in advancing the ideals and goals of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. Presented this 6th day of August, 2002.
Mr. Alesandrini thanked the Commission for the Award.
John Nelson stated that he would like to update the Commission on two issues that were discussed at the 175th INPC Meeting and to present one new threat issue.
Mr. Nelson stated that there is a threat to Boone Creek Fen Illinois Natural Area in McHenry County from the proposed Sanctuary of Bull Valley residential development. There are four nature preserves within this area. The main concern is that this development would be located on 300 acres of kettle moraine topography that is critical recharge for Boone Creek Fen. The Woodstock Planning Commission closed its public hearing on the proposal on June 27, 2002, after numerous meetings and testimony. In the end, the Planning Commission voted 6-3 against the development. Most of the Board Members voiced concern that the development plan did not adequately address environmental issues. During the hearing, the Boone Creek Watershed Alliance (BCWA) provided several presentations showcasing the importance of the development site as providing critical groundwater recharge to Boone Creek Fen. Ed Ellinhausen, a civil engineer and member of BCWA, provided groundwater volume estimates. Mr. Nelson stated that the BCWA did an excellent job. The IDNR held two consultation meetings to gather information from the concerned parties. In attendance were the developer, INPC staff, Illinois State Water Survey scientists, local officials, attorneys, and concerned citizens of the BCWA. Keith Shank of the IDNR provided a biological opinion and made recommendations on how to minimize impacts to the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) site. The Woodstock City Council is scheduled to vote on the development proposal on August 20, 2002. Mr. Nelson stated that he would update the Commission on the results of the vote at the 177th INPC Meeting.
Mr. Nelson stated that there is a threat to Exner Marsh Nature Preserve in McHenry County from the Lake Pointe Development. This is a proposed 30-acre strip mall development featuring a Walgreens adjacent to Exner Marsh Nature Preserve. The developer submitted a draft conservation plan to the IDNR to obtain an Incidental Take Authorization for impacts to the state-threatened Blandings turtle. The development site is a potential nesting area for the Blandings turtle. The IDNR, Division of Resource Protection and Stewardship has reviewed the draft conservation plan and has asked for clarification and more information from the developer. After receiving a revised plan, the plan will go out for public comment and further review. Mr. Nelson stated that at the 175th INPC Meeting he reported that Henry Cilley had obtained 300 signatures on a petition to save the turtles. This nine year old boy now has nearly 1,000 signatures on that petition. A meeting has taken place between the county, state, and federal agencies involved to discuss mitigation to protect Exner Marsh Nature Preserve and the Blandings turtle. He stated that they are confident that a good mitigation plan has been devised that would allow the development to go forward and protect the resource. A key aspect to the mitigation plan is dropping one and a half to two lots in order to provide adequate buffer to the Nature Preserve. This buffer would also provide an upland nesting habitat for the Blandings turtle. Mr. Nelson stated that the Village of Lake in the Hills is still engaged in the IDNR consultation process, and he would keep the Commission updated on the progress of this issue.
Mr. Nelson stated that there is a threat to Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in northwest Cook County. Bluff Spring Fen is recognized as one of Chicagolands finest restoration success stories. After more than 20 years of restoration activities and countless hours of volunteer efforts, Bluff Spring Fen is documented to support over 400 native plant species, including 12 state-listed plants. The Nature Preserve contains outstanding examples of calcareous fen, dry hill prairie, wet-mesic prairie, and oak savanna. The most rare community is the calcareous fen. Only 17 acres of calcareous fen have been identified statewide. Like all fens, Bluff Spring Fen is dependant upon an uninterrupted supply of mineralized groundwater from surrounding upland recharge zones.
Mr. Nelson stated that Bluff City Materials (BCM) purchased two parcels of land, one to the south and one to the east of Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve. Currently, they have applied for a mining permit to extract the remaining sand, gravel, and limestone to a depth of 120 feet on the south parcel. In order to accomplish this task, groundwater will need to be pumped in vast quantities, resulting in a cone of depression in the groundwater. The close proximity of the proposed mining, depth of mining, and groundwater pumping presents a serious threat to the groundwater resource that is the lifeblood of Bluff Spring Fen. The groundwater seeps would likely dry up as the groundwater is pumped from the mine pit.
The BCM mining permit is pending review by the IDNR, Office of Mines and Minerals (OMM), however, the company has begun activities to prepare the site for mining. In early July, 2002, site stewards noticed heavy sediment loads entering Poplar Creek from an un-named tributary in the Nature Preserve. Steven Byers investigated the source of the sediment and found that it originated from the property to the south which is owned by BCM. A deep trench had been dug to drain water from a gravel pit on the site. As a result, heavy sediment loads were deposited into the Nature Preserve. All agencies with regulatory responsibilities, including the IDNR, the IEPA, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), have been notified of the situation. Currently, water is no longer being discharged into the Nature Preserve. Mr. Nelson stated that about a week after the INPC voiced its concerns, BCM filled in the trench. At the time, this was felt to be a positive step, however, later that day he and Mr. Byers discovered that BCM had started pumping the water out of the mine pit rather than using the trench. Mr. Nelson showed slides of the area.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the water from the gravel pit was being pumped into a sewer system that ultimately drained into the Nature Preserve. The water is clear but is coming out at such a volume that it pushed all the sediment further down stream so it is harder to document the sedimentation issue. However, there are some areas that can be documented to show a correlation between this activity and the sediment. She stated that the area has historically, over the last 20 years, been dry and had completely revegetated.
Mr. Nelson stated that there is an abandoned mine pit called Gifford Lake which is east of Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve. BCM is also preparing that site for some type of activity. It is not known at this time if BCM is going to extract limestone from this property or fill the pit for development. A trench was dug to drain the pit, and that also drains into the Nature Preserve from the North.
Ms. Grosboll stated that there is no National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at the Gifford Lake site. BCM has applied for the permit in May, 2002, and it is currently under review by the IEPA. Ms. Grosboll stated that the IEPA sent a letter to BCM that outlined very specific concerns that they had about the possible discharge of water at the Gifford Lake site. The IEPA has been advised that BCM has been pumping without a permit.
Mr. Nelson stated that Mr. Byers has been in communication with BCM, and a meeting will be scheduled to discuss the INPCs concerns.
Mr. Nelson stated that the Illinois State Geological Survey and Illinois State Water Surveys scientific consultants are documenting damage and have implemented a groundwater monitoring program to obtain baseline data needed to document any changes in the groundwater that may result from future activities. The groundwater monitoring program consists of continuous groundwater elevation and groundwater chemistry monitoring. Mr. Nelson stated that staff have been working diligently on this since the threat arose, and they will continue to engage BCM.
On a positive note, because of the contract with the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey, we have the necessary scientific monitoring in place to document any damage.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the mining permit is under review within the IDNR, OMM. There have been several internal meetings within the IDNR to discuss this topic, including an opportunity for the Chiefs of the Surveys to meet with Director Manning and hear a presentation given by Randy Locke, a Hydrologist with the Illinois State Water Survey. It was clear after that presentation that by digging a 120-foot hole and pumping continuously, water would be drawn from all areas and very likely dry up or impact the fens in the Nature Preserve. Information is also being gathered from the Illinois Natural History Survey regarding potential impacts to the state-listed communities, plants, and the elfin skimmer dragonfly. We could be looking at an incidental take issue. The OMM has asked Bluff City Materials for an extension. By statute, OMM has 120 days to respond to an applicant. That time period expired on July 9, 2002, but OMM asked the company for an additional 60 days. There may be another issues meeting with Director Manning within the next two weeks. At that point, there may be a decision made regarding the permit that is currently under review.
Commissioner Riddell asked if any of the agencies involved in this are inclined to pursue action for the damage that is already done, not just to stop future permits from being approved.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the INPC has the authority to do that.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked what was the process for taking such an action.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the statute provides that either the local States Attorney, which would be Cook County, or the Attorney Generals Office can bring suit on the INPCs behalf. Generally, the INPC works with the IDNR attorneys who then contact the Attorney Generals Office.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon stated that Illinois law is clear that aside from permit issues, one cannot increase the drainage from your land to a neighboring landowner or one cannot alter the drainage. The slides that Mr. Nelson has shown at this meeting show that the drainage has been altered by BCM, and they have increased the flow.
Ms. Grosboll stated that the IEPA contacted BCM about the drainage change at the Gifford Lake site, and they claimed that all that they did was remove a beaver dam. BCM claimed that it was an existing trench.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon stated that if that were the case, the lake would have never filled up.
Mr. Nelson stated that the NPDES permit identifies the discharge location, and that location has not changed. Historically, it flowed through a standpipe from the lake so the water level would never drop below a certain elevation, but that standpipe is no longer working since BCM dug this trench. The discharge point is in the exact same place.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon stated if that is the case, BCM did increase the flow. He asked how the Commission would initiate the legal people to take action.
Ms. Grosboll stated that those discussions have begun.
Commissioner Drucker stated that Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve is fragile, and the hydrology issue is critical to this site. He asked if an injunction could be obtained until all the monitoring is in place. He stated that by the time the documentation can be obtained, BCM is going to be asking for forgiveness rather than permission.
Ms. Grosboll stated that when BCM was actively pumping, that was the direction the Commission was going.
Commissioner Drucker stated that it would be good for BCM to know that the Commission is not going to take something like this without some action being pursued.
Dr. Dave Thomas stated that he would like to raise another issue related to Exner Marsh. He stated that approximately a month ago he had an opportunity to go into the field with a biologist that is working on yellow-headed blackbirds in northeastern Illinois. They went by a number of mitigation wetlands near developments that had yellow-headed blackbirds. Most of them are gone now. In some cases the developers did something to drain the wetland and nobody seems to be tracking that. Others have just been let go with no maintenance. He was taken aback by the number of the mitigation wetlands that are no longer serving a purpose for a variety of reasons.
Mr. Nelson stated that with the Exner Marsh example, the mitigation there would not be so much wetland mitigation. We are trying to preserve as much of the potential upland nesting area for the Blandings turtle as possible. There is not much land left around Exner Marsh, which is over 400 acres. With this plan, we are proposing that the developer preserve a small portion which would serve as an artificial nesting area. There has to be other artificial nesting sites created in other places around Exner Marsh, and we hope that this will be part of this plan. Six in all have been identified in the conservation plan submitted by the developer, but it is unknown whether the developer is actually proposing to do that. Simply identifying them is one thing; saying you are going to do it is another.
Keith Shank stated that an Incidental Take Authorization has been sought at Exner Marsh. It was made clear to the developer that the IDNR will not terminate the consultation process until the Incidental Take Authorization process has been completed. The IDNR did not want to run the risk of them walking away from that process when the consultation was terminated. Once the Incidental Take Authorization has been issued, the USACOE will acquire some enforcement jurisdiction which is lacking at the other mitigation sites.
Mr. Shank provided a summary of the Incidental Take Authorization process. He stated that in January, 2000, an amendment to the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act took affect which gave the IDNR the authority to authorize the incidental taking of endangered species where that was not the primary objective. Through coordination with the consultation process, the IDNR identifies a project that it believes is likely to result in the taking of an endangered species. The IDNR notifies the applicant that they should consider the incidental take process. The IDNR is not able to order anybody to apply for an Incidental Take Authorization, but it can make that recommendation. In this case, the developer has applied for the Incidental Take Authorization regarding the Blandings turtle. This is an extremely complex consultation coordination issue in that there is a threat to a nature preserve. It is a very high profile public controversy.
Mr. Shank explained the consultation process for the new Commissioners. He stated that the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act and the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act include provisions for the consultation process. All State agencies and units of local government are required to consult the IDNR prior to authorizing, funding, or performing any action which alters the natural conditions to determine whether their action will likely affect listed species or adversely modify a nature preserve or an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) site. It is mandatory that the IDNR be consulted, but it is not mandatory that they take its advice.
Chair Allread asked that the Commission be kept advised of the changes that develop at the sites discussed by Mr. Nelson.
Commissioner Drucker stated that Heron Pond is slowly filling up with siltation, and he feels that it is a threat. He asked if this is something the Commission should find ways to keep from happening.
Mr. Nelson stated that sometimes there is a gray area of what is considered a threat or a management issue. Something like that would be considered a watershed issue which cannot be attributed to a single source or cause of sedimentation. He would recommend that it be considered a management issue which is a threat to the site. In order to solve that problem, many landowners would need to get involved to effectively solve that problem.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis stated that the photographs of the site that Mr. Nelson presented were helpful, and she appreciated that feature of his presentation.
Don McFall reported that two new natural heritage landmarks, negotiated by Debbie Newman, were added since the 175th Meeting of the INPC. Marilandica Acres Natural Heritage Landmark, owned by Glen Schuetz of Venedy, is a 52-acre site in the Kaskaskia River bottoms in Washington County in southwestern Illinois. This wooded area is included on the INAI and is part of the largest unbroken block of forest in Illinois. There is a 7,000-acre unbroken block of forest on the lower Kaskaskia River which is mostly privately owned. This site is directly adjacent to Marilandica Acres Land and Water Reserve. Serendipity Acres Natural Heritage Landmark, owned by Glen Schuetz, Rachel Schuetz, and Sue Schwankhaus, is a 20-acre site on the Kaskaskia River bottoms in Washington County. This wooded site is on the INAI. There are now 130 Natural Heritage Landmarks totaling more than 5,780 acres.
Mr. McFall stated that the INPC has three land protection programs. They are nature preserves, land and water reserves, and natural heritage landmarks. The natural heritage landmark designation is not legally binding, and only private landowners who have land on the INAI are eligible. The goal with the natural heritage landmark program is to get the landowner into the program, build trust, educate them on the importance of their land, and see where that relationship can go.
Mr. McFall stated that Kim Roman assisted The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in preparing for a delinquent tax land sale in the black oak and prairie area of Pembroke Township in Kankakee County. This area has a large remnant of black oak savanna and associated wetlands and prairies. TNC was the successful bidder for 57 acres of land in this area at the auction. This newly acquired land will enlarge several protected natural areas.
Mr. McFall stated that a bio blitz was conducted at John M. Olin Nature Preserve and nearby Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve on June 28 and 29, 2002. A bio blitz is an intensive biological survey in a specific area conducted by biologists who are specialists in identifying different groups of animals or plants. A bio blitz demonstrates the great diversity of life that is present in the nature preserves. Commissioner John Sommerhof, with The Nature Institute, played a significant role in arranging this. Twenty-eight biologists, including Debbie Newman and INPC consultant, John White, participated in the intense survey of these areas. Fifty-eight species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and amphibians, 26 species of butterflies, 324 plant species, and 30 lichens were identified in the nature preserves during the two day survey. There is another bio blitz scheduled in the Calumet area of Cook County in late August.
Randy Heidorn stated that the Volunteer Stewardship Network (VSN) Steering Committee had its quarterly meeting on July 31, 2002. The VSN Steering Committee is concerned about the budget situation as it relates to the NAAF land acquisition and stewardship projects, and they are willing to help if there is a need. The VSN Steering Committee is also continuing their work on its strategic plan.
Mr. Heidorn stated that Sternes Fen Nature Preserve and Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve are in an area adjacent to the Precision Twist Drill Company which has had a release of cleaning solvents. This has been an ongoing cleanup for a number of years, and the company has been working with the IEPAs voluntary cleanup program. They have successfully traced the solvent underneath Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve which is to the north of the factory. The solvent discharges into the fens, and the materials have been found in Sternes Fen Nature Preserve. As the result of the data being collected, the IEPAs voluntary program has recently sent notification to Precision Twist Drill that they will need to conduct a full eco-risk assessment using the protocol set up by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The only protocol in place to assess potential impacts of contaminants on ecological systems is the USEPAs eco-risk assessment protocol. The IEPA voluntary program has indicated that they will not proceed with issuing a no further remediation letter to the company unless they assess what impacts the contaminants are having on the ecological system at Sternes Fen Nature Preserve. Mr. Heidorn stated that it is a very significant move on their part, and he will be working closely with the IEPA on this process.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked who bears the cost of that.
Mr. Heidorn stated that the cost is the responsibility of the company, Precision Twist Drill.
Mr. Heidorn stated that there was an ammonia release that occurred from the Urbana Sewage Treatment Plant. This release was the result of some cleaning materials that were discharged into the sewage system from the University of Illinois. The sewage treatment plant had to re-route the ammonia into the Saline Branch Ditch which leads to the Salt Fork River to prevent the loss of bacteria in the treatment plant. The ammonia release caused a fish kill within both the Saline Branch and the Salt Fork River. Edgewood Farm Land and Water Reserve is along the Salt Fork River at the Vermilion-Champaign county line. That site has a record of state-threatened bluebreast darter in the immediate area. The fish kill extended into the Land and Water Reserve. The state-threatened bluebreast darter and state-threatened river redhorse were found dead outside of the Land and Water Reserve during the fish kill. There is a continuing investigation regarding this incident, including the determination of the mussel population. The INPC, IEPA, IDNRs Division of Fisheries, the Endangered Species Program, and the Natural Resource Trustee Program are involved in this discussion.
Glen Kruse stated that the Wildlife Preservation Fund is doing well this year. The last report from the Illinois Department of Revenue was that there was just short of $232,000 donated through the checkoff as of the end of June, 2002. This is $27,000 ahead of last years figure. For the first time in several years, the Wildlife Preservation Fund has brought in more than any of the other funds on the tax form. In recent years the Wildlife Preservation Fund was running third behind the Child Abuse Prevention Fund and the Breast Cancer Research Fund.
Chair Allread asked if there was any special promotion to contribute to the increase in the collection.
Mr. Kruse stated that no special promotion was done. He stated that the promotion budget was reduced because it did not seem to make a difference how much effort was put into the promotion of the Wildlife Preservation Fund. The promotion used this year included key chains. Mr. Kruse stated that the Step into the Wild button is also used to publicize the Wildlife Preservation Fund. He stated that he felt the increase was because of the size of the refunds people are receiving.
Mr. Kruse stated that for fiscal year 2003, the IDNR has approved $40,000 in small projects and approximately $90,000 on large projects out of the Wildlife Preservation Fund.
Mr. Kruse stated that the Office of Resource Conservation (ORC) was reorganized in May, 2002. Organizational charts were provided to the Commissioners. Kirby Cottrell is the Office Director, Tim Hickmann is the Deputy Director and reports to Mr. Cottrell. Mr. Hickmann supervises most of the personnel within the ORC. Brian Reilly is now part of the Operations section within the ORC. Mr. Reilly had been working within the Division of Natural Heritage primarily on land acquisition. He is now working more at an office level involving a variety of state and federal funds, and foundation grants. Mr. Kruse stated that Mr. Reilly has done a good job tracking down funds and has been able to creatively combine funds. There is still a Region VI indicated on the organizational chart, but it has not been filled at this time. The three divisions listed are Wildlife Program Development, Resource Protection and Stewardship, and Fisheries Program Development. The reorganization combined the Division of Forestry and the Division of Natural Heritage. The Avian Program has been moved to the Division of Wildlife Program Development. Vern Kleen retired from that position approximately a year ago, and the position is still vacant. There are four programs within Resource Protection and Stewardship. Forest Ecology handles many of the traditional functions of the Forestry Division. Habitat Development includes the nurseries that produce plant materials for habitat work around the State. The Natural Areas Program consists of Bill McClain and Patti Reilly. The Biodiversity Program consists of himself, Joe Kath, and Gayla Hill. Two new positions were established, one for exotic species and one for herpetology, however, these positions are not currently staffed.
Randy Heidorn stated that in the recent reorganization, the data managers for the INAI moved from Watershed Management to Technical Support. The Natural Areas Program has now been fragmented into parts of three different units and five Regions within ORC.
Mr. Kruse stated that the early retirement incentive will result in a lot of change, and there will be more vacant positions.
Mr. Kruse stated that he is currently considered the Acting Chief of the Division of Resource Protection and Stewardship.
Mr. Kruse stated that he participated in a meeting of the recovery team for the Illinois Cave Amphipod, the only federal-listed species that is endemic to Illinois. It lives in several caves in southwestern Illinois. The federal recovery plan should be posted on the Fish and Wildlife Service web page for public review. He invited everyone to review the recovery plan.
Carl Becker stated that the Conservation 2000 (C-2000) program joins the ranks with the NAAF in the budget ax this session of the General Assembly. Unlike the NAAF, the C-2000 fund receives automatic transfers on a monthly basis from the General Revenue Fund (GRF). That will occur through fiscal year 2009. The legislation did not change the process when the cuts were made this year. The funding is still coming in to the C-2000. The transfer on an annual basis into the C-2000 fund is approximately $6.4 million. There are three separate funding sources for the C-2000 program. One is the monthly transfer from the GRF, the second source comes from $5.25 million in bond funds each year, and the third source is from reappropriation of the money from the previous fiscal year. When the General Assembly completed its appropriation business, it cut a total of $8 million from the C-2000 fund. Four million dollars of that was from the new appropriation. Instead of $6.4 million, the IDNR will receive $2.4 million. The other $4 million came out of the reappropriation of $6.6 million. The C-2000 program will receive $2.6 million in reappropriation. The bond fund was not affected. The C-2000 money will continue to be transferred, and it is expected to be there through 2009. The IDNR decided that it would do a number of things with the funds that were received. The Department will maintain all headcount staff, continue the contracts with scientists at the Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and the Illinois State Geological Survey, and continue the core programs within C-2000. A major portion of the cuts, $2.5 million, that had to be made were grants to ecosystem partnerships. While the Department did not want to cut staff, a decision was made to cut a monitoring program called Eco Watch. Twelve trainers were laid off at the end of the fiscal year. Mr. Becker stated that out of the $6.6 million reappropriation of which $4 million was cut, the Department was able to come up with $1.2 million that was not obligated to anything. The Department was able to switch existing grants that were from the GRF transfer money that qualified for bond fund monies. These were capital expenditures for buying land, improving habitat, or equipment acquisition. The Department was able to switch the funding sources for those grants over to capital bond funds. The Department still had to cut $1.7 million, and it had to come out of projects that were already obligated. A number of grant recipients of C-2000 got a letter that invoked the clause in the grant which says that because of the lack of appropriation the Department would have to take the money back. The books are balanced, and $8 million has been cut out of the program. The positive thing is that the Department is looking forward to a fully funded program next year.
Commission Drucker stated that there are five criteria to approve a grant application. Some are given higher priority than others. He asked that in light of the shrinking pool of money available for resource preservation whether or not there has been any reconsideration of how grant proposals would be weighted in terms of priority and whether grant proposals for land acquisition for important natural areas would be given precedence over any applications to purchase a piece of equipment with the C-2000 grant money.
Mr. Becker stated that a chronological order was used when deciding which grantees to notify that their grants were being pulled. The one most recently obligated was the first cut. It was merely a fiscal decision. The list was cut to get the amount of money that was needed. The only monies that will be available for this year for future grants are capital bond funds. Land acquisition of high-quality areas always ranks very high, as does restoration of high-quality areas. One of the core missions of C-2000 is to improve and protect the biodiversity of the State of Illinois.
Carolyn Grosboll asked how much bond money will be available for next years grants.
Mr. Becker stated that it is anticipated to have approximately $1.3 million available.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked what the criteria is for a bond fund.
Mr. Becker stated that a few of the things that would qualify would be equipment purchases, land acquisition, and habitat restoration where the activity will last more than ten years. Planning, education, or an inventory or survey would not qualify.
Commissioner OKeefe stated that one of the reasons that there is money for reappropriation is because land acquisition takes a long time. She asked if the IDNR is awarding grants to partnerships for land acquisition or a major restoration project that often involves heavy duty engineering and could it assist those groups to get the work done in a more timely fashion. She stated that she felt that it should be a high priority to turn the money around to protect the fund from cuts in the future.
Mr. Becker stated that when he took his current position in the OREP, he was alarmed by the amount of carryover from year to year. He stated that he raised the issue that the General Assembly or the Bureau of the Budget may look at this figure and decide that the Department does not need that much money. A number of things have been instituted in the last two years which has greatly reduced the carryover amount. One of the best things has been the reduction of time between the time the grant is authorized and when it is completed.
Patti Reilly updated the Commission on the INAI program. She stated that the 26th meeting of the Natural Areas Evaluation Committee was held on July 16, 2002. It was a fairly short meeting, but there were several important policy decisions made and site issues discussed. One of the first issues dealt with the Committee personnel. The Committee approved cutting personnel from seven members down to five because of vacant positions. She stated that because of the loss of Susan Lauzon as the Executive Director of the Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB), Dr. John Ebinger, a Board Member of the ESPB, was approved as her replacement. The Technical Report was discussed. The new document has been named The Standards and Guidelines for the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory. The Technical Report was a contracted project which was done in the 1970s, and that will always remain as the name for that project. The Standards and Guidelines is the evolved program that the Department now uses to identify natural areas. Fifteen sites were discussed during the meeting. Aside from name changes and boundary changes, there was one site addition under Category VI which is the Gosline Access Bed in Pike County. This site had 17 species of live mussels. There was one deletion which was the Riverwoods site, a Category II site in Lake County. Most of the Riverwoods site is now a golf course.
Keith Shank updated the Commission on the IDNR Consultation Program for the last fiscal year. Mr. Shank stated that his office received approximately 7,900 projects for review. Approximately 92 of those were determined to be in the vicinity of a nature preserve or land and water reserve. He stated that in approximately 75% of the cases the Department has been effective to some degree in reducing the risk to the resources that were reviewed. The remaining 25% were thought to have no effect either because the government that the Department was working with did not adopt any of the recommendations or because parties other than the Departments consultation program came up with ideas and measures unrelated to the recommendations that did the job.
Mr. Shank stated that his office will also be affected by retirements and resignations. In the last year, there has been an increasing number of very complex, highly controversial actions come up. He stated that he did not see that decreasing. Effective coordination does take time and effort.
Mr. Shank stated that he has recently opened a consultation on a proposed development near the Julia M. And Royce L. Parker Fen Nature Preserve. The development is proposed by the owner of the nature preserve.
Commissioner OKeefe asked what actions have been taken at this point by the landowner to move the development project along.
Mr. Shank stated that a hearing was conducted before the Bull Valley Zoning Board on August 5, 2002, to look at a petition for annexation and preliminary plat approval. They are planning to annex 136 acres which may include the Nature Preserve. The development that is being proposed is on a 50-acre parcel. Sixteen lots are proposed.
Carolyn Grosboll asked how many listed species are at that site.
Mr. Shank stated that there are two listed plant species. This is a graminoid fen, and that is rare.
Ms. Grosboll asked if the endangered species consultation provisions are still relative.
Mr. Shank stated that it depended on who you speak to. Under the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act, the owner of a plant is able to dispose of that plant as they see fit. The owner of the plants at this site is also the petitioner for the development. The only real protection that these plants have is the fact that they occur inside a dedicated nature preserve. The petitioners feel that the action they are taking is in the best interest of protecting the nature preserve because they can control the development that occurs on that portion of the recharge zone.
Chair Allread stated that it is important for the Commission members to be apprized, and a great deal is always learned when such thorough reports are given.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that all registration agreements for todays land and water reserve presentations are signed and executed by the landowner as required by administrative rule.
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal to register Charles Chinee Colvin Sand Prairie as an Illinois land and water reserve. The proposed land and water reserve, owned by Ms. Sue Ann Terry, is a 40-acre site containing a disturbed, but recovering, sand prairie (approximately 2 acres) that is representative of the Illinois River Section of the Illinois River and Mississippi River Sand Areas Natural Division. Due to the sites history as a landfill, from 1974 until 1994, natural communities and degraded areas currently co-exist within a complex mosaic that supports populations of the state-threatened Illinois chorus frog (Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis), the state-endangered Illinois mud turtle (Kinosternon flavenscens spooneri), the state-threatened regal fritillary butterfly (Speyeria idalia), the state-threatened Halls bulrush (Schoenoplectus hallii), the state-threatened umbrella sedge (Cyperus grayoides), and formerly state-threatened large-bracted corydalis (Corydalis curvisiliqua var. grandibracteata). Both the chorus frogs and mud turtles use the sites ephemeral sand ponds during their short breeding seasons and sand prairie habitats during the longer dormant phases of their life cycles. Restoration management and landfill remediation will improve habitats across the entire site. The owner proposes to register the land in perpetuity.
Mr. Lerczak stated that he would like to acknowledge the team effort on this project. Brian Reilly was instrumental in preparing the registration document. Beth Whetsell and Tim Kelley worked on the management plan, and Mike Henry and Steve Davis of the IDNRs Natural Resources Damage Trustee Program (Trustee Program) were involved in this project. Jody Kershaw and Dave Jansen from the IEPA were helpful in the registration process. He also thanked Sue Ann Terry for signing the land and water reserve agreement.
Commissioner OKeefe asked about the IDNR Trustee Program and what role this plays.
Beth Whetsell stated that the IDNR Trustee Program deals with contaminant issues on IDNR property. They help evaluate the situation, and they also assess contaminant issues on private property.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the Trustee Program also involves the Illinois Attorney Generals Office, as well as the IEPA.
Commissioner OKeefe asked Ms. Whetsell if she sees her office as being the liaison to the Illinois Attorney Generals Office and the IEPA on issues like this.
Ms. Whetsell stated that it depends on what the IDNRs connection is to the situation.
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Charles Chinee Colvin Sand Prairie in Cass County as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal to register Fon du Lac Seep as an Illinois land and water reserve. The proposed Fon du Lac Seep Land and Water Reserve, owned by the Fon du Lac Park District of East Peoria, is a 1.48-acre site that is included within the 17.33-acre Fon du Lac Seep Natural Area Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI #851), which exhibits natural communities characteristic of the Illinois River Section of the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois River Bottomlands Division. The Fon du Lac Park District purchased the proposed reserve using an IDNR C-2000 grant. For the entire state, a total of only 94 acres of high-quality seep were identified by the original INAI. The area being proposed for registration was partially filled and ditched by the previous owner in 1996. Some restoration occurred in 1997, but much work is still necessary before the site will once again be similar to natural communities at Bennetts Terraqueous Gardens Nature Preserve, 40 feet to the south, and the grade B seep, 80 feet to the north. The Fon du Lac Park District wishes to completely restore the site to its previous high-quality condition and proposes to register the land in perpetuity.
Mr. Lerczak introduced Jim Coutts, Executive Director of the Fon du Lac Park District.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked if the C-2000 grant was utilized for purchase pending approval of a land and water reserve.
Mr. Lerczak stated that the property was purchased by the Fon du Lac Park District in late May, 2002, and the funds have been used.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked what would happen to the C-2000 funds if it would fail to be designated as a land and water reserve.
Mr. Lerczak stated that if the registration as a land and water reserve was declined by the Commission, the landowner would then have to proceed with a conservation easement with another organization.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that C-2000 grants require conservation easements to be placed on the property purchased. In a few instances, the Commission has been fortunate enough to have the C-2000 staff identify when an area is on the INAI and they have notified the Commission so that we would have a joint effort to protect the area. The land and water reserve agreement serves the purposes for the easement requirement of the C-2000 grant. She stated that had the property not been eligible for this program, the landowner would have sought another entity to take the conservation easement.
Commissioner Drucker asked how much, if any, of the 17.3-acre INAI site is owned by the Fon du Lac Park District.
Mr. Lerczak stated that the largest portion of the INAI site which contains the entire grade B seep is owned by the Fon du Lac Park District. The only parts that are not owned by the Fon du Lac Park District are the access road to the top of the bluffs and the middle wedge of property which is approximately two acres.
Commissioner Drucker asked if Mr. Lerczak had discussed the registration of that portion as well with the Fon du Lac Park District.
Mr. Lerczak stated that he is working on that.
Commissioner Drucker thanked the Fon du Lac Park District for their continued efforts and their desire to protect the land.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by Riddell, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:The Commission grants approval for the registration of Fon du Lac Seep in Tazewell County as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Chair Allread thanked Mr. Coutts for attending the 176th Meeting of the INPC and for the Fon du Lac Park Districts cooperation and work. She looks forward to the continued relationship.
Jim Coutts stated that it has been his pleasure
to work with the INPC.
Terry Esker presented a proposal to register Beall Woods as an Illinois land and water reserve. Beall Woods State Park is owned by the IDNR and is located along the Wabash River in southeastern Wabash County. Much of the site is recognized by the INAI (#940) for its 298 acres of grade A and B dry-mesic upland forest, wet-mesic floodplain forest, wet floodplain forest and grade A sandstone cliff community. The majority of the high-quality forest has been previously dedicated as the 329-acre Beall Woods Nature Preserve. The proposed Beall Woods Land and Water Reserve contains 43 acres of the remaining IDNR-owned natural area at this site. The proposed reserve is composed of 13 acres of grade B dry-mesic upland forest, 20 acres of grade B wet-mesic floodplain forest, and 10 acres of adjoining successional forest. The forest buffers Coffee Creek, a low gradient stream that flows through the central part of the proposed reserve. In addition, the site provides suitable habitat for the state-endangered bloodleaf (Iresine rhizomatosa) which has been documented in the Coffee Creek basin south of the proposed reserve. Historic accounts have reported the presence of the state-threatened timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) at Beall Woods.
Mr. Esker stated that there is a petroleum pipeline that dissects the proposed land and water reserve which is excluded from the registration.
Mr. Esker thanked Bob Edgin for his work on this project.
Commissioner Riddell asked why this property was not considered for dedication as a nature preserve.
Mr. Esker stated that there is an ongoing deer management program at Beall Woods. The designation as a land and water reserve will give the IDNR a better opportunity to manage the deer population at this site, and there are other uses which are compatible with the designation as a land and water reserve.
Commissioner OKeefe stated that even though this area may qualify as a nature preserve, she is happy to see this site within the INPC system. Jeff Short, a former member of the INPC, took the lead in preserving that land in 1963, and she is sorry that he is not able to be here today to see this land brought into the system.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Beall Woods in Wabash County as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
A lunch break was taken from 11:55 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.
Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition of nature preserve buffer to Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve. Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve is a 47-acre parcel located in central Lake County within the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division of Illinois. The site was recognized by the INAI (#1252) for its high-quality prairie and fen plant communities that include: mesic, wet-mesic and wet prairie; graminoid fen, sedge meadow, and marsh. In addition, the site provides habitat for the state-threatened slender bog arrow-grass (Triglochin palustris). Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve was conferred final approval for dedication at the Commissions 129th Meeting in November, 1990 (Resolution #1047). On behalf of Libertyville Township and the Liberty Prairie Conservancy, the staff of the INPC endorses Mr. John Whites proposal for dedication of approximately 28 acres as an addition of nature preserve buffer to Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve. Dedication of this buffer will provide additional land protection on the north to northeast boundary as well as the south and southwest boundary and increase the size of the Nature Preserve from 47 to 75 acres. In addition, the buffer will provide increased habitat diversity and expand the potential for the ongoing restoration of Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve. Libertyville Township is routing and has partially constructed a regional trail that will extend through the landscape, and the Township has met all of the criteria and issues that were of concern to the INPC with regard to that trail.
Mr. Byers acknowledged John Whites contribution to this project, along with the leadership of Betsy Dietel of the Liberty Prairie Conservancy and the ongoing activities at Liberty Prairie.
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by DeLaurentiis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition of nature preserve buffer to Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve in Lake County as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
176-14) Madison Co. Great Rivers Addition to John M. Olin Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of the Great Rivers Addition to John M. Olin Nature Preserve. The Great Rivers Land Trust and the Village of Godfrey propose to dedicate 7.18 acres known as the Great Rivers Addition of nature preserve to the John M. Olin Nature Preserve. The proposed addition also partly borders the Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve. The Great Rivers Addition is located in the Glaciated Section of the Middle Mississippi Border Natural Division, and contains a small hill prairie, dry and dry-mesic upland forest, and limestone cliff. The proposed addition also provides habitat for the state-threatened timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). Dedication of the site will complete protection of a mile-long section of bluffline along the Mississippi River. 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, Poole Farm Nature Preserve Addition, Bachman Farm Nature Preserve Buffer Addition, and Oblate Fathers Woods Nature Preserve comprise a total of 411 acres. This addition will increase the amount of contiguous preserved land to 418 acres.
Ms. Newman stated that there is a small, paved road that goes through the John M. Olin Nature Preserve and through the Great Rivers Addition. It is a privately-owned road that was built
in the 1950s for the Norman brothers who owned this piece of property before the Great Rivers Land Trust acquired it. There was a shipping company down at the base of the bluff, and that part will not be included in the dedication. This road is gated, and it is used by The Nature Institute and the Great Rivers Land Trust who have their offices down at the base. Public access to the site will not be an issue.
Ms. Newman stated that when the Great Rivers Land Trust turns this property over to the Village of Godfrey, they will hold a signed conservation easement on the property. This conservation easement in no way conflicts with the nature preserve dedication. It will serve as a double layer of protection.
Ms. Newman stated that she would like to commend the Great Rivers Land Trust for their work to protect these areas in Madison County.
Commissioner OKeefe asked to what extent the public is able to access the John M. Olin Nature Preserve.
Ms. Newman stated that the John M. Olin Nature Preserve and the Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserve are open to the public most of the year. There is a bald eagle winter roost on the John M. Olin Nature Preserve which is to the east of this proposed property that is closed during the winter months.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by OKeefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of the Great Rivers Addition to John M. Olin Nature Preserve in Madison County as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Oak Bluff Savanna as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Oak Bluff Savanna, owned by Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, is a 5-acre site included within the 15.2-acre Oak Bluff Prairie Natural Area (INAI #1559), recognized on the INAI for a 1.5-acre dry-mesic savanna. The proposed nature preserve supports plant communities (prairie, savanna, forest) representative of the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. White oaks (Quercus alba) are the largest and most obvious trees within the high quality savanna, which supports small thickets of hazelnut (Corylus americana) and oak grubs. Flowers include yellow stargrass (Hypoxis hirsuta), Culvers root (Veronicastrum virginicum), and the state-threatened Hills thistle (Cirsium hillii). Bur oak (Q. macrocarpa) and chinquapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii) are also present. The proposed nature preserve includes a 1.0-acre grade C dry-mesic savanna, approximately 2.0 acres of grade C woods, plus a 0.5-acre prairie restoration on former agricultural fields, seeded exclusively from high-quality remnants within the natural area. Restoration management continues to improve the quality of this site.
Mr. Lerczak recognized Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked who has the management duties for the larger parcel.
Mr. Lerczak stated that the landowners, Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, are the lead land managers of the site, and he works closely with them in carrying out those plans.
Commissioner OKeefe stated that it is a pleasure for her to see this come before the Commission. Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang own Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve which was dedicated in May, 1998. Their dedication to maintaining and restoring natural areas is truly extraordinary.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by OKeefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Oak Bluff Savanna in Marshall County as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Chair Allread thanked Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang. She stated that their dedication to preserving natural areas is the model that the Commission wishes could be seen in every county in Illinois. They have set a tremendous example as stewards for the land.
Emiko Yang stated that she and Mr. Brucker have attended a few of the Commission meetings, and she feels that the people who attend these meetings have the same interest in protecting natural areas. She feels that the unconditional support given to each other is wonderful, and they appreciate the help and support from Tom Lerczak, Michelle Simone, Bill McClain, and the Commission to protect what little they have.
Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Amberin Ash Ridge as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Owned by Ms. Deborah Staley, Amberin Ash Ridge, is a 9.8-acre tract of mesic upland forest and seep natural communities. Amberin Ash Ridge is located in the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division of Illinois. The site was previously presented to the Commission and granted preliminary approval for dedication as Nature Preserve Buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve at the Commissions 157th Meeting in October, 1997 (Resolution #1379) and approved for final dedication at the Commissions 175th Meeting, in May, 2002 (Resolution #1656). Since that time, the boundary for Boone Creek Fen and Seep INAI site has been expanded to include the entire Amberin Ash Ridge addition. Boone Creek Fen and Seep is a complex of wetland and upland communities included on the INAI (#1015) for extant high-quality sedge meadow and graminoid fen communities. The INPC staff recommends that Amberin Ash Ridge be conferred preliminary approval for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve. This recommendation is predicated upon the fact that Amberin Ash Ridge is located entirely within the boundary of the expanded INAI site, and the seep wetland communities that occur along the groundwater discharge zone in Amberin Ash Ridge are high-quality plant communities.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked if a portion of Ms. Staleys property is going to be excluded from the dedication.
Mr. Byers stated that the proposal presented today is essentially the same proposal that was given final approval for dedication as buffer at the 175th Meeting of the INPC, and the boundary reflects the landowners intent to exclude some of the property. This proposal is presented for consideration as a stand alone nature preserve rather than a nature preserve buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked if there was a difference in the protection status between a buffer and a stand alone nature preserve.
Mr. Byers stated that there are some subtle differences in the language in the Natural Areas Preservation Act with regard to protection of nature preserves and nature preserve buffers.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the main difference is when it comes to the issue of taking of a nature preserve. For a nature preserve, the standard is imperative important public necessity for another public use, and for buffer, the standard is in the public interest. For purposes of property tax benefits, there is no difference. Overall, the protection is the same for both.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Amberin Ash Ridge in McHenry County as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final dedication of Middlefork Savanna as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Middlefork Savanna has frequently been described as the best surviving mesic or black soil savanna in Illinois, and is located in the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Middlefork Savanna was recognized by the INAI (#1245) for its high-quality mesic savanna community. This community type is among the most rare in Illinois with only 2 acres of high-quality mesic savanna surviving in the State as reported by the INAI. The Nature Conservancy has described black soil savannas (or fine-textured-soil savannas) as critically imperiled globally. Other surviving natural communities include mesic and wet prairie, sedge meadow, and marsh. One federally-listed plant species, the Eastern prairie-fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) and four state-listed species have been recorded at the site: golden sedge (Carex aurea), marsh speedwell (Veronica scutellata), and pale vetchling (Lathyrus ochroleucus). The Blandings turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is a state-threatened reptile reported from the site. Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve is approximately 581.8 acres in size and is owned in part by the Lake County Forest Preserve District (499 acres) and the Lake Forest Open Lands Association (82.8 acres). Lake County Forest Preserve District is now seeking final approval for dedication of 375 acres as nature preserve and 124 acres as nature preserve buffer. The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 175th Meeting (Resolution #1649) in May, 2002.
Mr. Byers stated that in the instrument of dedication that has been executed by Al Westerman, President of the Lake County Forest Preserve District, the language has been modified slightly to provide for bicycle riding and leashed dogs on designated trails. This was included in the instrument of dedication at the specific request of the Lake County Forest Preserve District. He stated that the Commission staff feels comfortable bringing this instrument of dedication forward for final approval.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the same language is also added under the provisions dedicating the buffer area.
It was moved by Drucker, seconded by OKeefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Middlefork Savanna in Lake County as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Mr. Byers stated that it will be his pleasure to go back to Lake County and relay the good news. He looks forward to working with Lake Forest Open Lands Association, the City of Lake Forest and private landowners to protect at least another 250 acres at this site.
Don McFall presented a proposal for final dedication of an addition to Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve. Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve, owned by the Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District (LCSWCD), is a 23-acre remnant of mesic upland forest in Lee County. The site is listed on the INAI (#688) based on its status as a dedicated nature preserve (Category III). It is located in the northern portion of the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division of Illinois and within the floodplain of the upper portion of Big Bureau Creek. The Commission conferred final approval for dedication of this site at its 113th Meeting in February, 1987 (Resolution #926). In May, 2001, the LCSWCD acquired an adjacent 4-acre tract that is similar to the nature preserve (moderately disturbed upland mesic forest). The SWCD proposes to dedicate this 4-acre tract as an addition to Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve. The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this addition at its 175th Meeting (Resolution #1650) in May, 2002.
Mr. McFall stated that John Alesandrini negotiated the dedication and prepared the necessary documents for this site.
Commissioner Ross-Shannon asked the significance of a Category III designation.
Mr. McFall stated that the INAI has seven different categories. Category I is high-quality natural communities, Category II is habitat for endangered or threatened species of plants and animals, and Category III is all areas dedicated as Illinois Nature Preserves. Ninety percent or more of the Illinois Nature Preserves are classified in one or more of the other categories. Bartlett Woods is a little small, and the quality not quite high enough to be included in a Category I designation. As of this date, no endangered or threatened species have been found on the site. Category IV is geological areas, Category V is restoration of a natural community, Category VI is a unique assemblage of plants or animals where none of the species are endangered or threatened, and Category VII is aquatic where a stream or river is of high-quality.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by DeLaurentiis, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve in Lee County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 18 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for final approval for dedication of Sandra Miller Bellrose as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Frank and Esther Bellroses rural Logan County property includes a 0.8-mile segment of Sugar Creek-Salt Creek Drainage Natural Area (INAI #1521), recognized on the INAI for a high diversity of freshwater mussels (the criterion for inclusion on the INAI is a minimum of 10 live species). Recent surveys by the IDNR (July-August, 2000) have confirmed a high number of mussel species (17) and individuals (694) on Sugar Creek within and upstream of the Bellrose property. At the169th INPC Meeting, preliminary approval was given for 106 acres of the Bellrose property to be dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve (Resolution #1561), 35 acres of which have since been removed by the landowners from consideration as a dedicated nature preserve. The remaining proposed nature preserve, which still includes the original 0.8-mile segment of Sugar Creek, supports a stream community and terrestrial communities representative of the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. Outside of Sugar Creek, the proposed nature preserve consists of a 9-acre tract of second growth upland forest and a separate 61-acre tract of second growth upland and bottomland forest. The larger tract forms a continuous forested riparian buffer for Sugar Creek; this forested buffer has a width ranging from about 100 feet to at least 700 feet. Benefits to stream communities from riparian buffer woods include: creation of shade and, thereby, reduction of water temperatures and algal growth; reduction of nutrient inputs into the stream; stabilization of stream banks; contributions to the stream food web from the input of fallen leaves; and the creation of habitat for aquatic organisms (e.g., aquatic invertebrates, fishes) through accumulations of woody debris.
Mr. Lerczak stated that several changes were made to the proposed nature preserve boundaries since the preliminary approval. The landowners have decided to remove 35 acres from the proposed nature preserve because they have enrolled those tracts into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The boundaries have been adjusted to follow the wooded corridor along the creek. The proposed nature preserve is now in two tracts. The westerly tract is nine acres of second growth woodland, and the easterly tract is 61 acres of second growth woodland, all buffering the stream corridor.
Commissioner Riddell asked if the omission of the 35 acres will create any problems for management, and if there is a possibility of inclusion of that property in the future.
Mr. Lerczak stated that the ground is enrolled in CRP for 15 years. After that 15-year period has expired, the idea would be to add this land to the nature preserve. The next project is to look at the rest of their farm to see what pieces would qualify for a land and water reserve designation. Anything that would not be registered as a land and water reserve would be enrolled in the CRP.
Ms. Grosboll asked what is being done with the CRP fields.
Mr. Lerczak stated that the CRP ground is planted in prairie grasses and forbs. They have been using fire management on the site for many years, and the area will be managed as a unit. The management plan is still in preparation. The creek is the significant feature of the property, and it is of the main concern. The vegetation management of the upland areas is a secondary concern.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by OKeefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Sandra Miller Bellrose in Logan County as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for final dedication of an addition to Sandra Miller Bellrose Nature Preserve. This 1-acre proposed addition to the Sandra Miller Bellrose Nature Preserve is located on the bluff lands adjacent to Sugar Creek-Salt Creek Drainage Natural Area (INAI #1521), and it is within the 106-acre tract given preliminary approval as an Illinois Nature Preserve at the 169th INPC Meeting (Resolution #1561). The proposed 1-acre addition, owned by Ron Bellrose and Sandra Miller Bellrose, consists of second growth upland woods, which are characteristic of the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. The woods are part of a continuous band of upland and bottomland woods running parallel to Sugar Creek, thereby serving as a natural stream buffer for its entire 0.8-mile length through Sandra Miller Bellrose Nature Preserve. Benefits to stream communities from uplands in natural vegetation include reduced runoff and reduced soil erosion and nutrient inputs to the stream. The Illinois Archeological Survey, in 1978, determined that this 1-acre site has archeological significance, as indicated by the presence of an Indian mound dating to the Woodland Culture.
It was moved by Riddell, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Sandra Miller Bellrose Nature Preserve in Logan County as described in the proposal presented under Item 20 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Steven Byers presented a proposal on behalf of Marilyn Miglin for final dedication of the Lee Miglin Savanna addition of nature preserve buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve. The proposed site is a 22.95-acre addition of nature preserve buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve. Boone Creek Fen is a complex of wetland and upland communities included on the INAI (#1015) in recognition of high-quality sedge meadow and graminoid fen plant communities. Only 354 acres of high-quality fens survive in the entire State. The state-threatened slippershell (Alasmidonta viridis) mussel occurs in the stream embedded within this natural area. Boone Creek Fen is located in the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division of Illinois. Fen communities are dependent upon protection and stewardship of the surrounding landscapes and groundwater recharge zones. The portion of Boone Creek Fen owned by Tom and Carol ODonnell was conferred final approval for dedication by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission at its 156th Meeting in August, 1997 (Resolution #1376) with the Carol and Lydia and Tom and Brandon Addition receiving final approval at the Commissions 167th Meeting in May, 2000 (Resolution #1540). The Spring Hollow Addition, owned by Betty Babcock, received final approval for dedication at the Commissions 159th Meeting in May, 1998 (Resolution #1418). The Amberin Ash Ridge Addition, owned by Deborah Staley, was proposed for final approval at the Commissions 175th Meeting in May, 2002. The proposed Lee Miglin Savanna addition includes elements of dry-mesic savanna and old field plant communities. More importantly, the proposed addition will protect both groundwater recharge and discharge zones for this natural area. The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 175th Meeting (Resolution #1651) in May, 2002.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of the Lee Miglin Savanna addition of nature preserve buffer to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County as described in the proposal presented under Item 21 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Chair Allread asked Mr. Byers to express the Commissions gratitude to Mrs. Miglin and her family. It was apparent at the 175th Meeting of the INPC that Mrs. Miglin really appreciated learning that nature preserve dedication was an option to protect her land.
Don McFall presented a proposal for final dedication of Thomas W. and Elizabeth Moews Dore Seep as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The proposed Thomas W. and Elizabeth Moews Dore Seep Nature Preserve, owned by the Ringbill Habitat Foundation, is a 26-acre seep and seep-related wetland community that was identified by the INAI as part of Senachwine Seep (#825). It is located within The Hennepin and Hopper Lakes Project, a 2,600-acre wetland restoration project along the Illinois River in Putnam County. It is the largest identified seep area in the Illinois River Section of the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois River Bottomlands Natural Division. The proposed nature preserve will be managed by The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) in conjunction with The Hennepin and Hopper Lakes Project. The Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 175th Meeting (Resolution #1652) in May, 2002.
Mr. McFall stated that John Alesandrini prepared the dedication proposal and dedication document, and he worked with the landowners to bring this before the Commission today.
Mr. McFall stated that the level farmed uplands directly adjacent to the proposed nature preserve and the seep is owned by a gravel mining corporation. There would be concern if that were mined. It is the Commissions intension to proactively meet with the company and work with them to be sure that impacts to the new nature preserve can be avoided.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Thomas W. and Elizabeth Moews Dore Seep in Putnam County as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 22 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
Randy Heidorn stated that Illinois Beach Nature Preserve was the first nature preserve in the Nature Preserves System. This site is located north of a former Johns Manville plant. This company was a large producer of asbestos-containing material. That area has gone through a series of cleanups over the last several years. Asbestos-containing material exists on the south end of the Nature Preserve, and there are ongoing efforts to deal with that. Mr. Heidorn stated that since the 175th Meeting of the INPC, there has been additional sampling of the water bodies that are associated with the old Johns Manville property, including a canal that separates the Nature Preserve from the Johns Manville property. In those samplings, asbestos-containing material has been found at the bottom of most of the ponds. With the closeout of the superfund site, there is concern about what is going to happen with the water system. The asbestos-containing material was not considered an issue as long as it was covered by water in a contained area. With some of the changes that are happening at the site, the USEPA is now request Johns Manville to address these ponds in regard to the long-term maintenance by containing or removing that asbestos. Mr. Heidorn stated that the Commission is concerned that there may be a serious impact to the hydrology of the Nature Preserve if the ponds, with the industrial canal being the main one, are disturbed. More needs to be investigated regarding the groundwater and surface water at this site before any long-term determination is made on what should happen to these bodies of water. It has been suggested that the industrial canal act as a buffer. Changes in that could cause some changes in the fragile communities that are present within Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. It is the Commissions position to insist that a hydrology study take place. There is a meeting scheduled in September, 2002, between Johns Manville and the INPC, IDNR, IEPA, USEPA, Attorney Generals Office, Department of Public Health, and others. The various State agencies will be presenting their ideas of what the hydrology study should look like. The Commission has gone on record by submitting a letter approximately two years ago outlining its position on what hydrology studies should be done.
Mr. Heidorn stated that the USACOE had decided to support the plan to place Waukegan Harbor dredge material into one of the settling basins at Johns Manville. The USACOE is still pursuing that as a concept. There is some disagreement as to how contaminated the materials are that would be coming from the Harbor, and whether or not they could still dispose of them within the Johns Manville site. Once again, the issue of hydrology and the ability to cap the site to contain those dredge spoils comes into play.
Chair Allread stated that September, 1963, is the official
date of when the INPC was established. Instead of tying a 40th Anniversary celebration
to one particular event, it has been decided to spread it out throughout the
year starting with the February, 2003, meeting in Springfield. The meeting sites
were announced earlier in the meeting. These sites were selected to give the
Commission the ability to meet in larger population areas in order to reach
out to landowners, as well as former Commissioners and partners. A small recognition
of the 40th Anniversary will be done at each of the meetings. This gives several
opportunities to raise awareness of nature preserves and the protection that
it provides for our natural heritage, to generate public interest, and to celebrate
the success of 40 years. There will be a special event in Rockford. The Natural
Land Institute has put together a celebration for the Commission to be held
in May, 2003, which will include a special tribute to George Fell, who founded
the INPC, and his wife, Barbara.
(Actually presented after Item 26)
Brian Reilly stated that fiscal year 2003 is a difficult year for the NAAF land acquisition program because of the budget cuts. Mr. Reilly gave each Commissioner a list of properties that have been acquired in previous years. The first tract of land acquired using the NAAF was on May 20, 1991. As of May 28, 2002, the IDNR has purchased a total of 17,551 acres of land, totaling $30,604,999. The list shows a complete accounting of the land acquisitions.
Mr. Reilly stated that for fiscal year 2003, the NAAF budget is $1 million. The budget was cut from $9 million. The formula for the NAAFs share of the Real Estate Transfer Tax was reconfigured. The legislation was amended to cut the funding down to a third of what the Department had received in the past. In addition, $2 million was taken from this fiscal year. The Department funds staff, travel, and other operational expenses, as well as stewardship projects, and natural areas acquisition from of the NAAF. Mr. Reilly stated that there is still a natural areas acquisition list in case a windfall of money is received in the future. If that happens, the Department wants to be able to continue on with business as usual. A packet of information was included in the Agenda outlining the lands that the Department is proposing for acquisition in fiscal year 2003. The proposed acquisitions total 2,919 acres, with a cost of approximately $10.5 million. Added to that are the incidental and relocation expenses, which would have brought the total price tag up to $11,766,000. Mr. Reilly stated that he always budgets for more money than is received with the idea that not every acquisition goes through. The proposed acquisition sites are as follows:
1) Property at Black-Crown Marsh, near Moraine Hills State Park in McHenry County. It is a marsh that provides habitat for eight endangered or threatened species of wetland dependant birds.
2) Property at the Lower Fox River, adjacent to Lower Fox River-Blakes Landing Nature Preserve in La Salle County. This is a high-quality cliff community along a high-quality stream that provides habitat for the state-endangered greater redhorse and the state-threatened river redhorse.
3) Property at the Cache River State Natural Area in Johnson and Pulaski counties. This natural area provides habitat for numerous endangered birds and animals.
4) An addition to Carl Fliermans River Nature Preserve in Vermilion County. The property owner passed away, and the heirs want to sell the property to the State. Only a narrow corridor along the Little Vermilion River is dedicated. The Department would like to acquire the corridor along with the neighboring farmland and the wooded ravines that run into the river to expand the dedicated nature preserve and to expand the buffer to that river system.
5) Property at East Glen Shoals Prairies in Montgomery County. It is a large prairie complex with a population of the state-threatened savanna blazing star.
6) Property to buffer Gutherie Cave Land and Water Reserve in Union County. Guthrie Cave was registered as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve in October, 1999. It is an example of high-quality terrestrial and acquatic cave communities.
7) Property at Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve in JoDaviess County. This site includes a 362-acre nature preserve that has six native plant communities, sand hill prairie, dry dolomite prairie, dolomite cliff, dry-mesic and mesic upland forest, and seep springs. The site provides habitat for 11 state-endangered or threatened species.
8) Property at Illinois Caverns in Monroe County. This is a cave system that provides habitat for the federally-threatened Illinois cave amphipod.
9) Property next to Long Branch Sand Prairie Nature Preserve in Mason County. The IDNR owns the Nature Preserve, but the previous adjoining landowner had not been supportive of the States programs. The ownership has changed, and the Department would like to acquire the property to expand and protect the other half of the prairie.
10) Property at Pelican Pouch in Clinton County. This is a high-quality forest identified by the INAI.
11) Property at Potato Hill Natural Area and Monroe City Hill Prairie in Monroe County. Both sites are on the INAI and are owned by Columbia Quarry Company. The Company wants to sell off their high-quality natural areas along with the wooded buffer around these areas. These areas provide habitat for more than a dozen endangered or threatened species that live in the area.
12) Property at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Marion and Jasper counties. This site is the only place in Illinois where every grassland bird exists, and it is the only place where the Illinois prairie chicken occurs.
13) Property at Redwing Slough State Natural Area in Lake County. The marsh community at this site provides habitat for a large variety of wetland wildlife including six species of endangered or threatened wetland dependent birds.
14) Property at Richwood Hill Prairie in Jersey County. The prairie provides habitat for two state-threatened species.
15) Property along Sandy Ford Land and Water Reserve in LaSalle County. Expansion of this area will provide additional protection for the Land and Water Reserve while providing clearly defined boundaries to simplify management of the site.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked how the proposed parcels end up on this list of properties to be purchased by the NAAF.
Mr. Reilly stated that the properties that are on the natural areas acquisition list are all high-quality natural areas identified on the INAI. They were recommended to him by field staff from the INPC and the IDNR. Some sites have been ongoing projects. He stated that he works closely with IDNRs OREP. OREP puts together the Open Land Trust (OLT) list from land offers to the State from different IDNR staff and other people who may have an interest in the land that the State acquires. Some sites on the natural areas acquisition list are sites that were declined on the OLT list. The OLT has a list that is five times as long as what they can actually acquire. He works closely with OREP to see if they can do some of these projects or if a partnership could be done on a project. The OLT money has been an asset in the amount of land that the State can acquire.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked if any of the properties are on both lists.
Mr. Reilly stated that the properties presented today are not on both lists. The OLT is looking to acquire some properties that are in some of the same natural areas, but they are not the same tracts of land.
Commissioner OKeefe asked if every one of these properties could qualify for the OLT program.
Mr. Reilly stated, yes. He stated that when the budget was cut, one of the first people he went to was Carl Becker who helps make up that OLT list. He stated that they sat down and identified projects that had to be done, and OREP is adding them to the OLT list.
Commissioner OKeefe asked if Mr. Reilly sees any of these properties being at risk of development within the next year or two so that if we are not able to move quickly on them they might be lost forever.
Mr. Reilly stated, yes. He stated that there is approximately $2 million available to buy land. That money is carryover from last years funds. There is a rollover of money each year because land acquisition takes such a long time. It takes approximately a year to acquire property. The Department is now acquiring property that was budgeted and discussed last year or the year before that. More than half of that $2 million is going for properties that the Department currently has optioned.
Commissioner DeLaurentiis asked for clarification. She asked if the list of properties submitted as Agenda Item 25 with a total sum of over $11 million does not include the $2 million dollar acquisition properties just discussed. She asked if those properties are off another working list.
Mr. Reilly stated, yes.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by Riddell, and carried that the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission go into closed session, pursuant to Section 2(c)(5) of the Illinois Open Meetings Act [5ILCS 120/2(c)(5)] for purposes of discussing the purchase or lease of real property for the use of a public body. Section 2 (c)(5) of the Illinois Open Meetings Act provides that a public body may go into closed session to discuss, the purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, including meetings held for the purpose of discussing whether a particular parcel should be acquired. A unanimous roll-call vote was taken. Closed session started at 2:15 p.m.
The meeting was called back to order at 3:00 p.m. by Chair Allread.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by Schwegman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the fiscal year 2003 Natural Areas Acquisition Fund land acquisition list as presented under Item 25 of the Agenda for the 176th Meeting.
A discussion was then held concerning the stewardship projects funded out of the NAAF.
Bill McClain asked that the Commission elevate its level of concern for stewardship to the same level as its concern for land acquisition. He stated that the benefit of stewardship dollars has been felt for approximately ten years. These funds have been used for a multitude of things that relate to natural areas, nature preserves, land and water reserves, and natural heritage landmarks. The stewardship dollars have grown over the last ten years, and last fiscal year $250,000 was allocated. He stated that this may seem like a lot of money, but when it is divided among 35 people, including the Heritage field staff and the INPC field staff, it does not go far. Mr. McClain stated that for two years there was exotic species money, which came out of the General Revenue Fund. These dollars were used in concert with Dr. Thomas from the Illinois Natural History Survey towards the eradication or control of exotic species such as kudzu control, research on garlic mustard, and bio- control for purple loosestrife. That money has been lost. Approximately $40,000 of that total was used for kudzu control. Of that $40,000, $10,000 was used to purchase chemicals, and $30,000 was used to hire contractors. Mr. McClain stated that for fiscal year 2003, a list was put together for stewardship projects that was just slightly below $900,000. Out of that, discussions were held with others throughout IDNR, and $480,000 was what was requested. Once the news of the budget was received, that money was not available. There will be no new money for fiscal year 2003. The only money available will be between $60,000-$70,000 to fund stewardship projects for fiscal year 2003. He stated that they will be picking projects that can be done where there are matching dollars. With the cut in the funding, the IDNR will not be able to address all of the needs.
Mr. McClain stated that the repair of the Karnak Levee has been proposed at a cost of $200,000; $100,00 will come from NAAF stewardship dollars, and another $100,000 is to be funded by IDNR, Office of Land Management and Education. With regard to kudzu control, $8,500 will be spent this year for the purchase of chemicals. District staff will have to do the work.
Randy Heidorn stated that traditionally the kudzu funds would have come out of the exotic species money which was General Revenue Funds. Kudzu does not currently occur on natural areas, however, it is viewed as an important control effort, because if it gets into the natural areas it would be devastating. The Karnak Levee project dollars were set aside out of NAAF stewardship funds before the budget cuts were known. This has now become a priority for the NAAF, however, there may be an opportunity to use other funding. One of things that was not taken into consideration when the proposed fiscal year 2003 stewardship projects was put together was that we would be working on re-appropriated money. Stewardship projects take place over a field season as opposed to a fiscal year. It is common to have stewardship projects underway at the end of a fiscal year that do not get completed until August. That money has to be re-appropriated. In addition to what is on the list, there were approximately $150,000 worth of projects that were funded out of last fiscal years budget and the bills are coming in right now which must be paid out of fiscal year 2003 money. When all the numbers are crunched, only approximately $50,000 to $60,000 of what is on the list will be funded.
Mr. McClain stated that he believes that a lot of the resources that will benefit future operations lies in restoration. He also believes that the vision should be such that the restoration will not be accomplished in our lifetime, but rather in two lifetimes. We should not think so small as to think this is something that can be done in a year, in ten years, or in a lifetime.
Commissioner Nevling asked what has to be done on the Karnak Levee.
Mr. McClain stated that the levee was breached this past spring due to the heavy rain. There were two old culverts, and the water broke through. If the Levee is not repaired, it will impair the future restoration of the Cache River Basin.
Commissioner Nevling asked if this was a federal levee, and if there would be any federal money available for this repair.
Mr. McClain stated that the Karnak Levee belongs to a local drainage district, and he was not aware of the availability of federal dollars for this project.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that the levee was built by the USACOE. This levee separates the upper Cache and the lower Cache River.
Mr. Heidorn stated that this project must be completed in a timely manner, and trying to get federal money would not meet this time frame.
Chair Allread stated that the Commission is committed
to stewardship, and it takes stewardship work very seriously.
(Actually presented after Item 24)
Maury Brucker stated that he would like to present an idea on how to get more stewardship funding. This involves the possibility of taking private donations to assist the State in its stewardship responsibilities on nature preserves. To make this work, it would probably take legislation which would allow agencies to accept these donations. He would further suggest that this be structured in such a way as to cover some of the minimum needs at every nature preserve but also use the marketing power of donating to a particular nature preserve. He would also like to see a more detailed description of the plants, animals, and features of the nature preserve on the internet. It could be focused in such a way that people can learn of these sites without increasing public access. This would not take away the States responsibility for stewardship, but it would allow individuals to supplement the stewardship funds.
Chair Allread thanked Mr. Brucker for his innovative idea. She asked staff to discuss this concept further.
Rita Martin stated that she has developed an interest
in managing land and preserving natural land because of her interest in wildlife.
She felt that the meeting was being held in an appropriate place, a former wildlife
park. Ms. Martin stated that she felt that people need to take a broader view
of animals, such as deer, because of what is happening in other parts of the
country. There is an impending disaster with regard to the white tailed-deer
because of the chronic wasting disease which started in the west and spread
to Wisconsin. She stated that most wildlife professionals know what their solution
has been, and there is no way to dispose of the deer except as waste. It is
a very hard and oversimplified solution, but people who are managing animals
in the State of Illinois should keep in mind that perhaps in the future they
will be the restorers of certain species and should walk very carefully down
the path of management that includes mass elimination based on population. They
should consider the overall picture and that possibly in the future other areas
will be depleted. She will look to Illinois to bring back certain species. She
stated that she felt that people need to consider wildlife in every natural
area. Wildlife is a large part of the value of an area. Quite often people use
Aldo Leopolds views that animals tend to destroy plants and that we should
value plants more than animals. There is one chapter in which he describes his
encounter with wildlife professionals getting rid of the old bear that was on
the mountain in New Mexico. In the end he tells how something was really missing
from that scene, and we do not want animals to go missing in the State of Illinois.
Commissioner Nevling asked whether the Commission should do anything to get it in position for the change that will take place in the governorship.
Commissioner OKeefe asked if a committee should be appointed to discuss this and come up with ideas of how to handle this.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that since the Commission has just finished its Strategic Plan, there is a blueprint of where it wants to go that can be used to educate others on what it does.
Chair Allread stated that since the Commission is a small group of dedicated individuals, each Commissioner should be a part of this discussion. Communications could be done via e-mail to see what each Commissioner could offer individually in that regard. She said that she would be happy to help Commissioner OKeefe in coordinating the effort.
Chair Allread stated that several challenges have
been discussed during this meeting, and more challenges lie ahead. It is going
to take Commissioners stepping up, as well as the staff continuing to do its
good work. The Commission needs to be much more forthcoming and proactive to
let people know how valuable it is to the State.
It was moved by OKeefe, seconded by Schwegman, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 3:20 p.m.