Illinois Governor announces $1.9 million in projects for local conservation grants - Funds to be distributed across state

(Note: A very Meeeerrrry Christmas, Illinois taxpayers! Guess who gets to fund all these grants? Did you guess, "I do?" Surely you don't think that this 'grant money' is coming out of thin air! If so, you get a heaping portion of new taxes! Just reading the red highlighted areas of this 'press release' with an eye to the FACT that not one acre is being 'restored' for your children, or their children. Nope, 'natural communties' and 'pre-settlement condition means NO PEOPLE. This is also known as The Wildlands Project, and an overlay of the TWP map for Illinois will quickly prove that these areas are the mosaicing of TWP in Illinois. Don't feel alone - such land/water/control schemes are hatching all over the country. Tis time to NETWORK!) - Comment from Julie Kay Smithson,

December 16, 2003

For Immediate Release

Springfield, Illinois - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced more than $1.9 million in grants to local units of government, education, environmental and conservation organizations [you don't get to vote for these] through the Conservation 2000 (C2000) Ecosystems Program.

The grants, awarded through 26 Ecosystem Partnerships located in all parts of the state, will be used to help restore more than 4,800 acres of forest, prairie and wetland habitat and acquire interest in more than 230 acres of land for conservation purposes. In addition, the grants will enable more than 13,000 students to participate in educational programs and projects focusing on the benefits of habitat restoration and protection.

"From restoring prairie grasses and stabilizing streambanks to developing educational programs that benefit thousands of students, the projects supported by these grants will have long term benefits for the wildlife, plants and watershed resources in all parts of Illinois,” the Governor said. “The C2000 grant program helps local citizens and organizations improve environmental quality and the quality of life in their communities.”

The C2000 Ecosystems Program coordinates the interests and participation of local communities, landowners, businesses, scientists, environmental organizations, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, and policy makers to enhance and protect watersheds through ecosystem-based management. At the heart of the program are Ecosystem Partnerships, coalitions of local citizens who share a common interest in the natural resources of their communities.

There are a total 39 partnerships in watersheds that account for 82 percent of the state’s land area.

Over the span of the program, the C2000 Ecosystems Program has awarded more than $28.7 million in grants, leveraging an additional $31.5 million in local matching funds and in-kind contributions for a total of $60.2 million for more than 700 projects throughout the state.

The program has assisted in restoring more than 62,000 acres of habitat, while more than 6,200 acres have been acquired or placed in conservation easements to provide long term protection.

Education programs regarding habitat enhancement have included participation by more than 400,000 citizens and school children.

For more information on the C2000 Ecosystems Program, contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, phone 217-782-7940,

A list of Conservation 2000 Ecosystems Program grants and project descriptions is below.


Carlyle Lake Partnership
Counties: Montgomery, Bond, Marion, Clinton, Fayette, Effingham, Christian and Shelby
Contact: John Phillips, 618-283-1095 ext. 3

• Ballard Nature Center, Altamont, $28,200. Natural Communities Restoration at Ballard Nature Center. This project will restore the natural communities at the Ballard Nature Center, including upland forests, riparian corridors, prairies, savannas, mesic floodplain forests, and shallow water wetlands. The work will include exotic species control, woody encroachment control, reintroduction of prescribed fire and increasing species diversity.

Chicago Wilderness Partnership
Counties: McHenry, DuPage, Cook, Will and Lake
Primary Contact: Rebecca Blazer, 312-346-2540 ext. 2137

• Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, $68,718.12. Northeastern Illinois Natural Resources Outreach and Technical Assistance. This project will provide assistance to Chicago Wilderness and the 10 other Ecosystem Partnerships in northeastern Illinois, principally in the form of technical assistance and outreach to local governments. It will address issues related to the impacts of development and redevelopment on land and water resources, continuing an ongoing C2000 project.

Driftless Area Partnership
Counties: Jo Daviess and Carroll
Primary Contact: Rich Mattas, 815-777-2688

• The Prairie Enthusiasts, $140,045. Roberts Restoration Project. The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) will acquire fee simple title to 45 acres, which they will restore to tall grass prairie. Following restoration an easement on the land will be donated to Natural Land Institute. The property is adjacent to TPE's Hanley Savanna and within the area of concern for the ongoing Hanover Bluffs Restoration Project. This acquisition will further establish a natural corridor connecting Lost Mound National Wildlife Refuge with Hanover Bluffs.

DuPage River Coalition Partnership
Counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will
Primary Contact: Dan Lobbes, 630-428-4500 ext. 55

• The Conservation Foundation, $26,520. Lake Renwick East Habitat Restoration. The goal of the eight-acre project is to complete the restoration of a wetland/prairie complex to serve as foraging and breeding habitat for the state endangered Black-crowned Night Heron, recently de-listed Great Egret, Pied-Billed Grebe, Little Blue Heron, and Snowy Egret, as well as other wildlife with similar habitat requirements.

Fox River Partnership
Counties: McHenry, Lake, Kane, Kendall, DuPage, LaSalle and Cook
Primary Contact: Becky Hoag, 630-482-9157

• Kane County Forest Preserve District, $50,000. Nelson Lake Marsh - Restoration & Education. Funds will be utilized to complete a 20-acre wetland/fen enhancement at Nelson Lake, a 1,000-acre dedicated nature preserve. The project will include specialized contractors, equipment for tree removal, nonnative species removal, continuing seed harvesting by students and volunteers, planting and removal of buckthorn from under the oak trees. Interpretive signs will also be installed.

Headwaters Partnership
Counties: Ford, Champaign and Douglas
Primary Contact: Leon Wendte, 217-352-3536

• Urbana Park District, $49,986. Judge Weber Park Wet Prairie Restoration. Urbana Park District will restore 22 acres of critical wet prairie on existing floodplain soils of the Saline Branch. The project will create habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, absorb urban storm water runoff, and filter and recharge groundwater in northeast Urbana. The area will be used for conservation and environmental programs.

Heart of the Sangamon Partnership
Counties: DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt.
Primary Contact: Paul Marien, 217-423-7708

• Illinois Audubon Society, $316,855. Conservation of Jasmine Hollow Natural Area, Piatt County. This project will conserve about 139 acres of forest and riparian habitat along the Sangamon River at Jasmine Hollow Natural Area. The conservation easement, through an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, will protect the land from adverse uses including development, clear-cutting and conversion to other land uses.

Illinois River Bluffs Partnership
Counties: Bureau, Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Lee, Marshall, Peoria, Putnam, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford
Primary Contact: David Meisenheimer, 815-875-8732

• Fondulac Park District, $57,372.60. Spring Creek Forest Restoration and Student-Based Monitoring. Two hundred acres of forested bluff owned by Fondulac Park District will undergo ecological restoration to improve ground cover and prevent erosion of sediment into Spring Creek.

Students from local high schools and colleges will conduct geological and biological monitoring on the study area and all data will be digitized with GIS.

•Peoria Park District, $102,000. Singing Woods Ecological Restoration Project. The Peoria Park District will implement an ecological restoration project resulting in stabilization of bluff erosion and enhancement of populations of rare native plant and animal species and their associated habitats. This project builds upon successful best management practices to address the unique ecological problems that occur at Singing Woods.

Kankakee River Partnership
Counties: Ford, Iroquois, Kankakee, Vermilion and Will
Primary Contact: J.R. Black, 815-932-8341

• Beecher High School, $70,000. Beecher Trim Creek Bank Stabilization-Conservation Education Project. Beecher High School, the Village of Beecher, and the Washington Township Drainage Commission will work to provide streambank stabilization of Trim Creek from Penfield Street to Miller Street using native Illinois plants and best management practices in maintaining the stream corridor.

Kishwaukee River Partnership
Counties: McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, DeKalb and Ogle
Primary Contact: Nathan Hill, 815-544-1576

• McHenry County Conservation Foundation, $56,028. Pleasant Grove Savanna and Prairie Restoration. This project will provide funding to restore 70 acres of lowland prairie, sedge meadow, dry gravel hill prairie, and oak savanna along the southern and eastern portions of MCCD's Pleasant Valley Conservation Area. Directly adjacent to an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory site, this project will expand upon extensive restoration work completed during the last 10 years.

LaMoine River Partnership
Counties: Adams, Brown, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, McDonough, Schuyler and Warren
Primary Contact: Martha Sheppard, 217-285-4114

Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District, $5,260. Tree Planter for Reforestation of Hancock County. The Hancock County SWCD will purchase a tree planter to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality. Many acres of the LaMoine River watershed have been enrolled in tree planting programs and a tree planter will ensure that the trees are planted in a timely manner.

• Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District, $31,895. Tom Hosack Permanent Watershed Protection Easement. The Hancock County SWCD will place 50 acres of bottomland forest and associated uplands in permanent easement. The addition of this property will link several hundred acres of permanent easement Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Conservation Reserve Program acres together to create an unbroken wildlife corridor.

Lower Des Plaines Partnership
Counties: Cook, DuPage and Will
Primary contact: Gary Mechanic, 773-267-0146

• Corporation for Open Lands, $25,000. Bartel Grassland Restoration Planting. In cooperation with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Audubon Society and Northeastern Illinois University, CorLands will purchase and install native grasses and forbs. Prairie restoration will occur at the 375-acre Bartel Grassland, an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory site.

Lower Rock River Partnership
Counties: Lee, Whiteside, Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, Ogle and Carroll
Primary Contact: Don Swensson, 309-762-5417

• Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District, $10,500. Ryan Wetland and Sand Prairie Restoration. The Ryan Wetland and Sand Prairie, owned by the Lee County SWCD, provides critical habitat for state-listed and other area-sensitive species. The site is degraded by invasive tree and brush growth. This project will restore rare prairie and wetland resources by invasive species removal, seed harvesting and prescribed burning.

Lower Sangamon Valley Partnership
Counties: Cass, Christian, Logan, McLean, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Sangamon, Shelby and Tazewell
Primary Contact: Eric Golden, 217-632-7590 ext. 3

• Friends of the Sangamon Valley, $31,050. Reforestation of Gurgen Park, Springfield. Friends of the Sangamon Valley will restore 55 acres of old floodplain fields in Gurgen Park, providing a connection to adjacent forested lands. Bur Oak, Black Walnut, Kentucky Coffee Tree and other hardwood species will be utilized to complete the restoration.

Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District, $28,375. Clary-Little Grove Creek Hill Prairie Restoration. This project will restore 25 acres of degraded hill prairie within the larger Clary Creek watershed and to ensure continued prosperity of the populations of three state listed endangered species. The project requires the removal of encroaching woody vegetation and the planting of suitable seed on approximately 25 acres to help ensure the survival of these rare communities.

•Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District, $9,000. Baugher Savanna Restoration. This project will re-create a 15-acre savanna [if it was ever really there in the first place] through the removal of selected sub-canopy and undesirable woody species and prescribed burning. Many savanna indicators are present on site such as large open grown trees and a diverse herbaceous ground cover of prairie species.

Mackinaw River Partnership
Counties: Ford, Livingston, McLean, Mason, Tazewell and Woodford
Primary Contact: Mary Jo Adams, 309-438-5955

•The Nature Conservancy, $274,525. Ecological and Economic Benefits of Conservation Based BMPs in the Mackinaw River Watershed. The Nature Conservancy will implement conservation-based best management practices and other innovative practices on a 272-acre farm in the Mackinaw River watershed to reduce nutrient exports into adjacent aquatic ecosystems. Data collected over two-and-a-half years will be used to demonstrate economic and ecological benefits of these land management practices to farmers and landowners [wonder if anyone asked the farmers if they wanted TNC to 'demonstrate' to them - and also wonder if TNC ever let farmers 'demonstrate' to THEM].

Mississippi Western Five Partnership
Counties: Henderson, Henry, Knox, Mercer and Warren
Primary Contact: Robert Yarde, 309-482-6100

• Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, $8,626. Streambank Inventory on Cedar Creek. This project will identify streambank erosion and instability along Cedar Creek within the Mississippi Western Five watershed. GIS and GPS will be used to locate and measure eroding banks in cropland and pastureland along Cedar Creek. A summary report and maps with locations identified will be part of the finished product.

Rock River Partnership
Counties: Ogle
Primary Contact: Robert Vogl, 815-732-7332

• Byron Forest Preserve District, $62,121. Invasive Woody Vegetation Removal in the Rock River Partnership. Funds will be used for mechanical removal of exotic and native woody vegetation [removal of NATIVE vegetation, too? but, it's NATIVE!] in natural areas throughout the Rock River Partnership. They will also help to restore the native landscape of prairies, wetlands and oak savannas, and to develop healthier natural communities.

Shawnee Ecosystem Partnership
Counties: Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope and Saline
Primary Contact: Grover Webb, 618-683-2651

•Pope-Hardin Soil and Water Conservation District, $89,716. Riparian Buffer Incentive Program. The Pope-Hardin SWCD will identify landowners and provide them with information and financial assistance to establish and protect riparian forest buffers at least 100 feet wide along seasonal and perennial streams ['seasonal' means 'intermittent,' which means that said 'seasonal streams may be bone-dry for months at a time -- and the 100-foot-wide 'buffers' are on EACH SIDE of these streams, including the INTERMITTENT ONES] to improve water quality, bank stability, recreational opportunities, and fish and wildlife habitat.

•Southern Illinois University, $29,935.80. Oak Ecosystem Restoration and Maintenance in Southern Illinois. This restoration and habitat management project will demonstrate the effects of partial cutting and prescribed burning on oak-hickory forests of southern Illinois. SIU will be restoring these forests to their pre-settlement condition through thinning unwanted species and understory burning to develop oak-hickory regeneration and permit maintenance of oak-hickory on each site.

Sinkhole Plain Partnership
Counties: Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair
Primary Contact: Art Ritter, 618-939-4256

• Sinkhole Plain Ecosystem Partnership, $15,000. Exotic Species Control Stemler Cave Woods Natural Area. This project will eradicate exotic species in Stemler Cave Woods Natural Area by cutting and spraying during dormant and growing seasons. Bush honeysuckle is the predominant invasive and is seriously degrading this high quality forest.

Spoon River Partnership
Counties: Bureau, Fulton, Henry, Knox, McDonough, Marshall, Peoria, Stark and Warren
Primary Contact: David King, 309-833-4747

• Farmington Central Community Unit School District #265, $66,755. Farmington CUSD #265 Habitat Creation. Farmington Central CUSD #265 will create more than 30 acres of habitat on previously farmed land. This project is part of the 103 acres being used to construct a new K-12 school. The property will also offer students additional outdoor environmental educational opportunities, and provide for erosion and sediment control.

Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Partnership
Counties: Carroll, JoDaviess, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago
Primary Contact: Dave Mullen, 815-629-2468

• Ecological Services, $69,275. Survey to identify significant wildlands in the Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Area. Ecological Services will identify wildlands of local, regional and statewide significance in the Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Area. Sites will be identified primarily by interpreting infrared aerial photography. The survey will support efforts to protect and restore natural lands and waters.

Upper Des Plaines Partnership
Counties: Lake, DuPage and Cook
Primary Contact: Lydia Scott, 847-883-8600

Lake County Forest Preserve District, $97,500. Ethel's Woods Savanna and Wetland Restoration Project. This project will provide critical expansion of savanna and wetland communities around a 185-acre block of intact oak woodlands that provide important habitat for forest interior bird species. It also provides for the protection and restoration of headwater wetland communities and amphibian habitat associated with Mill Creek.

• Land Conservancy of Lake County, Inc., $15,670. Wetland Enhancement at Pohickory Nature Preserve. LCLC will enhance a 4.3-acre fen wetland and 2.5-acre upland buffer by controlling exotic weeds and shrubs through cutting, herbiciding and burning during a three-year period. Plantings of prairie plugs and seeds will be used to increase plant quality and wildlife habitat for this rare ecosystem in northeastern Illinois.

Upper Little Wabash Partnership
Counties: Clay, Coles, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion and Shelby
Primary Contact: Fred Walker, 618-548-4234

• Illinois Audubon Society, $9,095. Interpretive Programs at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area. The Illinois Audubon Society will provide interpretive programs at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, focusing on rare grassland birds. The project will highlight the need for increasing critical habitat for these species.

Upper Rock River
Counties: Boone, Stephenson and Winnebago
Primary contact: Bruce Olson, 815-636-2671

• Roscoe Township, $42,188.50. Kinnikinnick Creek Prairie Restoration. This project will restore a permanently protected, 21-acre tract of floodplain and dry prairie along the Stone Bridge Nature Trail. This restoration will protect the water quality of South Kinnikinnick Creek and enhance prairie that spans over the property with Bull’s coral-drops and a neighboring designated natural area with threatened prairie brush-clover.

Vermilion River Partnership
Counties: Vermilion and Iroquois
Primary contact: Kevin Green, 217-442-8511

• Vermilion County Soil and Water Conservation District, $17,650. Plotting Habitat Progress on the Prairie. Illinois' only National Scenic River, the North Fork of the Vermilion River, is home to several designated natural areas. Grant funds will be utilized to assess and analyze threatened and endangered species by using GIS/GPS technology. Results will be used to implement IDNR recommended conservation for high-risk areas.

Vermilion Watershed Task Force Partnership
Counties: Ford, Iroquois, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, McLean and Woodford
Primary contact: Bob Lawless, 815-692-4433

Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District, $2,200. Connecting With Nature While Having Fun.

The SWCD will host its 7th Conservation EXPO, attended by more than 2,200 students in grades 1-5.

Individual classrooms rotate to grade appropriate activities.

Every student also attends a main event program.

This grant will fund four main event programs, presented by a naturalist and educator.


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