Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Natural Resources Advisory Board
Funding Committee
DNR Headquarters
Thursday, July 23, 2009
5:00 p.m.

DRAFT

Funding Committee Members Present:

Claudia Emken                       Harry Drucker             Jerry Adelmann
Tim Presley                             Jerry Beverlin

DNR Staff:

Deborah Stone                        John Rogner                John Buhnerkempe
Ellen King-Pietrzak                 Tim Schweizer            Anne Mankowski
Olivia Dorothy                        Tami Evans

Claudia began the meeting precisely at 5:00 p.m.  Introductions of committee members and DNR staff were given. 

Director Miller has formed three committees:  Funding, Public Access and Youth Recruitment and Retention.  Each committee is chaired by a member of the Natural Resources Advisory Board, along with interested conservation constituents to address many critical resource needs.  These meetings are open to the public and will be focused on what the public interests and concerns are.

The specific charge of the Funding Committee is to:  Review and recommend options for meeting the public funding needs of acquisition of open space and the long-term public funding needs of conservation, stewardship, resource protection and regulation, education and recreation activities and programs provided to the public by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.   

Funding committee meetings will be held around the state.  Details will be posted on the website along with a link to Conservation Congress and to the other two committees.  Ultimately, the final report of the funding committee will be presented to Conservation Congress.  The Congress will review, revise and recommend funding opportunity ideas to the Director and then on to the Governor. 

Information passed out to the Funding Committee include:

Funding Committee Charge
FY10 Fee Proposals
Fees That Only Require Admin Rule Change
Notes from Past Conservation Congresses – Funding/Revenue Recommendations
Illinois State Land Conservation Funding

Power point presentations were provided by the following can be viewed, along with handouts noted above on the IDNR homepage under http://www.dnr.state.il.us/nrab/funding.htm  

Deborah Stone, IDNR Deputy Director – IDNR Budget & Historical Budget Trends/Issues

John Buhnerkempe, Division of Wildlife Chief – Midwest Fish & Wildlife Agencies Larger Long-term Demographic Context

Charles Jackson, Illinois Environmental Council/Beth White Trust for Public Lands - Illinois State Land Conservation Funding Report

Matt Zieper/Beth White, Trust for Public Lands – Key Findings from Recent Illinois Voter Survey

Public Comments:

Tom Palmisano of Henry’s Sports, Bait & Marine believes non resident deer license sales are down due to the economy.   Compared to last year, resident fishing licenses sales have been up.   

Mr. Palmisano also commented on the fee increases and suggested that those increases, specifically fishing licenses be higher.  Revenue from these increases could be directed towards youth activities.   Mr. Palmisano also suggested that the issuing fee to merchants is low and he would like to see those fee’s increased.  Costs to sell licenses far outweigh what merchants get from the sale of licenses.

Tim Presley, Presley Outdoor’s agreed and added that vendors pay $250 for Point of Sale units and that due to support related issues, time and money is lost.   

Eric Schenk, Ducks Unlimited asked if the Fish & Wildlife Fund is used to acquire additional land or if monies are used for staff expenses.  By shifting individuals onto these funds, are they essential for these programs or are they being used when they shouldn’t be?  We need ensure that Fish & Wildlife funds are not being diluted. 
Deborah added that some monies from these funds are used for staff expenses. 

Jim McFarlane, IFOR asked about expanding monies for hunters and anglers and what all is involved.  John Buhnerkempe will follow up with Mr. McFarlane via e-mail.   

Mr. McFarlane suggested that land acquisition issues be a priority and that once acquired, lands be properly utilized.   

Committee Discussion:

Claudia suggested that everyone take a close look at the funding report, as it provides a lot of research on opportunities for increasing funding.  As a committee, we need to think about what needs to be funded, staffing issues, etc. 

Harry Drucker stated that this meeting is a great way to set the stage.  Harry added that we should be cautious with any new funding source due to the possibility of sweeps and suggested looking at ways to keep funds that are already there, find ways to spend wisely, leverage, not to forgo on federal grants and to connect any new funding source in a logical way with its use.  Thought should also be given to moving away from the General Revenue Fund which would make it harder for reductions to occur.     

Jerry Beverlin stated that Texas did try and move away from the General Revenue Fund and that he would reach out to see how things played out.  Jerry added that it’s critical that we find a way to bring money into the Department and then just as important is to prioritize spending.  There are ideas out there it’s just a matter of finding what you want to sell and who you want to sell it to.  Revenue from other uses, other than licenses and permits should be looked at. 

Harry Drucker suggested doing some research on what other states and national organizations are doing to increase funding. 

Aaron Kuehl of Pheasants Forever briefed the group on how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources passed a 25 year constitutional amendment for a dedicated funding source.  It was a huge effort and encountered a lot of opposition.     

Jerry Adelman added that whatever strategy we take, we need to create broad base support for this type of effort. How do we start thinking about connections, how do we engage a broader audience? 

Claudia stated that ideas/suggestions for increased revenue will be included in a final report that will be addressed at Conservation Congress, which is still evolving. 

Tim Presley added that the crisis is now. 

Public Comments:

Eric Schenk said that there is support for an expanded dedicated funding for the Department.  The committee should look at immediate and incrementally stages and suggested looking into the following:  Partnerships – it gives constituents what they want to see at no cost or minimal cost to the Department; Leveraging – finding ways to get more bang for the buck; articulate services – emphasis established programs and services and fee increases.

Jim McFarlane suggested widening the base for individuals who enjoy the habitat, the outdoors and other things such as hiking, biking, etc.  Spread fee increases around as long as it’s set aside and dedicated.

Tom Palmisano asked if fee’s received from license sales could be used for training & enforcement issues.  There are biologists that have more projects than resources.  There are groups in the Chicago area that would like to privately finance stocking fish in Lake Michigan but due to research issues, they are not allowed to do so.  Money needs to be put into the resource.

Alex Fuller – Fulton County – Mr. Fuller shared his experience and concerns working as an intern at Rice Lake/Banner Marsh and the lack of funds received to fully run the site.  A lot of maintenance issues, flooding and enforcement issues cannot be addressed.  Monies for farm leases could be brought back to the site to help it become self sustaining. 

Tim Presley added that hunters are more than willing to share some funds in specific areas.  Jerry Adlemann asked if this could be a “Friends of” situation since it gives partnership/ownership of an area.  Jerry Beverlin added that if it is set up and established as a separate entity but within the Department, the friends group can spend monies dedicated to a specific use at a specific site.   Bo Arnold, President of Friends of Sanganois provided some examples of how beneficial Friends groups can be. 

Mary Jo Trimble, Field Trial Clubs of Illinois suggested looking at a volunteer effort for a variety of tasks within DNR sites. 

Claudia thanked everyone for attending and for providing their input.  The next funding committee meeting will likely be the first week of August, with another one scheduled the last week of August; continue to check the DNR website for further information.

Meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

 

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