Northern Illinois conservation projects receive state grants

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116966752716468.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘Aerial view of the Pecatonica River taken in 1966 between Mineral Point and Belmont, Wis.‘);

Conservation groups protecting clean air, clean water and wildlife for the benefit of everyone in our northern Illinois communities, received help in early December from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), when Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced 11 groups in our region were awarded $2.8 million through the Conservation 2000 (C2000) program.

The Natural Land Institute will use a $20,000 grant to help restore native oak savanna to Horseshoe Mound near Galena, said Jerry Paulson, executive director of the Rockford-based, not-for-profit group. “The owner of this outstanding geologic area has already protected his land with a conservation agreement, assuring the property will remain unchanged forever,” according to Paulson. “Now, thanks to the C2000 grant and additional matching funds from the owner and the Natural Land Institute, we are able to restore the oak savanna and provide more habitat for birds such as red-headed woodpeckers and great crested flycatchers.”

Additional grants in the northwestern part of the state were awarded to the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation ($139,080) to restore prairie and forest on the Wapello Land and Water Reserve on the Apple River and to the Jo Daviess County Soil and Water Conservation District ($24,831) to make 1939 aerial photography available to the public.

Other grants to northern Illinois groups went to:

The Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, $351,000 to purchase 33.68 acres next to the Kishwaukee River Forest Preserve.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, $38,500 to develop a plan to protect and restore land in a 3,200-acre area of Alden Township

City of Moline, $24,500 to develop a plan to restore 130 acres of degraded wetland and prairie along the Rock River

Byron Forest Preserve District, $5,600 to purchase equipment to control invasive species in prairies, wetlands and woodlands

Byron Forest Preserve District, $10,350 to plant and manage prairie at the district’s Nardi Hills Preserve

Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Ecosystem Partnership, $11,940 to put into digital format the findings of the recent Pecatonica Valley Wildlands Inventory

Rockford Park District, $91,917 to restore habitat on the north fork of Kent Creek

Upper Rock River Partnership, $20,000 to complete the second phase of their strategic plan and develop an implementation plan.

Since the Conservation 2000 Program began in 1998, local watershed partnership groups called Ecosystem Partnerships have been awarded more than $32.5 million in grants. The grants benefit every county in Illinois and leverage an additional $31.5 million in local matching funds and in-kind contributions for a total of $64 million in projects throughout the state. With C2000 funding, local partnerships have restored more than 64,000 acres of prairie, forest, wetland and wildlife habitat and protected more than 5,600 acres of habitat through acquisition and conservation agreements.

From the Jan. 24-30, 2007, issue

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