State issues conservation grants to area organizations

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich recently awarded more than $4.3 million in Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation 2000 (C2000) grants to help local communities protect and improve Illinois’ environment. These grants will benefit communities in 93 counties with projects such as an educational/outreach seminar at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge highlighting the American Bald Eagle, training volunteers to monitor listed and rare plants at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and restoring the condition of Plum Island through reforestation.

To date, IDNR’s C2000 Ecosystems Program has awarded more than $29.9 million in grants, benefiting every county in Illinois and leveraging an additional $37.8 million in local matching funds and in-kind contributions for a total of $67.7 million in projects throughout the state. In addition, nearly half a million citizens have been educated on natural resources stewardship, more than 62,000 acres of the Illinois landscape have been restored, plus nearly 5,580 acres have been permanently protected through conservation easements. Funding for these grants has been appropriated every year since 1995 using general revenue and bonds.

At the heart of the C2000 Ecosystems Program is the Ecosystem Partnerships. This diverse group advocates natural resource stewardship through its common interest in preserving the bio-diversity of the local watershed community. Currently, 40 Ecosystem Partnerships cover 85 percent of the state and represent more than 98 percent of the citizens of Illinois.

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

Following is a list of area Conservation 2000 Ecosystems Program grants and project descriptions:

Natural Land Institute, $273,500: Clear Water Legacy: Phase 3—The Natural Land Institute will purchase perpetual conservation easements on eight forested parcels (approx. 210 acres) protecting a four-mile stretch of a Biologically Significant Stream, the South Branch of the Kishwaukee River.

Belvidere Park District, $107,500: Belvidere Dam Fish Passage Project—The Belividere Park District along with a diverse group of stakeholders will develop an alternative for implementing fish passage at Belvidere Dam.

Girl Scouts—Rock River Valley, $47,000: Prescribed Fire Break Creation & Complementary Educational Strategies—This project will create firebreaks as well as thin savannas and wetlands of excessive woody plants to allow safe and efficient reintroduction of prescribed burning. Educational strategies will also be developed for our members, board, campers and surrounding communities to share reasons and methods for reintroducing prescribed burns.

Flagg Rochelle Community Park District, $26,903: Natural Area Restoration—Skare Park—Skare Park contains high quality remnants of Oak/Hickory Savanna, Sedge Meadow, Wet Prairie and Ravine ecosystems. The park district will restore these remnants by removing invasive woody herbaceous flora, collecting and planting seed and reintroducing prescribed burns.

Byron Forest Preserve District, $19,550: Undesirable Brush and Small to Medium Diameter Tree Removal in the Rock River Partnership—Project will purchase a FECON Bull Hog skid steer attachment to be used for mechanical removal of medium diameter exotic and opportunistic native woody vegetation in natural areas throughout the Rock River Partnership. It will be used as a cost-effective management tool in restoring prairies, wetlands and oak savanna/woodland communities.

Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation Districts, $127,300: Fen and Sedge Acquisition and Easement—Thirty acres of a rare, high-quality graminoid fen wetland and sedge meadow will be acquired and placed in a conservation easement for its preservation. Management of the fen and control of invasive species will be conducted by District staff. Access will be provided for educational and scientific study purposes.

Natural Land Institute, $75,000: Nieman Marsh Conservation Easement—This project will place a perpetual conservation easement on one of the most important, unprotected wetlands in the Pecatonica River basin. Nine threatened and endangered birds use the property, including two nesting species.

Natural Land Institute, $401,000: Kinnikinnick Creek Buffer Land Acquisition—The Natural Land Institute will purchase and restore to prairie 52 acres of farmland between Kinnikinnick Creek and the Stone Bridge Nature Trail in Roscoe, Illinois. This will create a 73-acre prairie, protect a Biologically Significant Stream and buffer a Land and Water Reserve and Illinois Natural Area Inventory site that is home to the threatened Lespedeza leptostachya.

From the Dec. 21-27, 2005, issue

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