The purpose of the Ecosystems Program is to integrate the interests and participation of local communities and private, public and corporate landowners to enhance and protect watersheds through ecosystem-based management. The Ecosystems Program is funded through Partners for Conservation (PFC), a comprehensive long-term approach to protecting and managing Illinois' natural resources. The Ecosystems Program is a voluntary, broad-based incentive program.
The Ecosystems Program consists of four components
- Assessment and Monitoring
- Integrated Technical Assistance
- Ecosystem Project, Planning, and Support Grants
- Ecosystem Interpretation and Education
The Ecosystems Program is made up of Ecosystem Partnerships, which are coalitions of local stakeholders -- private landowners, businesses, scientists, environmental organizations, recreational enthusiasts, and policy makers. They are united by a common interest in the natural resources of their areas' watershed. Partnership designation brings financial and technical support, which is integral in addressing watershed concern. Currently, there are 41 Ecosystem Partnerships covering 84% of Illinois. More impressive is the fact that 98% of the state's citizens live in an Ecosystem Partnership area.
To date more than 70,500 acres have been restored. Nearly 5,600 acres have been protected through conservation easements or simple acquisition. More than $34.9 million in project grants have been awarded. Recipients have provided another $33.4 million in match. Nearly a half million citizens of all ages have been educated on natural resource protection.
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