Nature preserves under attack

Colored Sands Bluff, Hartley Memorial, Laona Heights, Pecatonica Bottoms, Plum Grove, Rockton Bog and Searls Park Prairie. These and many other nature preserves in Winnebago, Stephenson and Ogle counties are in danger, thanks to the action of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The governor has put his sights on the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. A few weeks ago, with no fanfare, he fired Carolyn Grosboll, executive director of the INPC.

Blagojevich’s budget plan for 2004 would remove all funding from the commission by taking the Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue and using it for other programs. It has helped fund the INPC since 1991. There also will be no money for open space land acquisition and development.

The governor also intends to get rid of all state biologists and program staff. Apparently, political appointees would take over whatever remains of the environmental program of the state.

Because of these cutbacks, there will be no one to deal with exotic and invasive species control, to manage endangered and threatened species, no protection of natural areas and no one to monitor and protect dedicated nature preserves.

Natural Land Institute notes that if these cuts prevail, there will be nothing and no one to protect Stone Bridge Nature Trail. Perryville Road could come to life and surge right across it heading north.

When George Fell founded the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission in 1963, he foresaw an organization that would forever protect the state’s last wild places. Fell saw the need for a group that could operate free from politics and whims, and he fought for independence for the INPC.

The commission has a 41-year history of success. Some 85,000 acres of top quality natural areas in 93 of the state’s 102 counties guard the last remnants of our natural heritage, preserving the way Illinois looked in the early 1880s.

This move by the governor can be reversed. If you agree that natural areas should be preserved for the future, contact your senator or representative and write or call the governor. His office number is: 1-800-642-3112.

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