FREP E-Downstream
Friday, March 18, 2011                   SPECIAL EDITION               Greetings from FREP!
Please visit our Website for additional information and updates on activities shared in this newsletter
LEGISLATIVE ALERT
We wanted to share the following information we received from Marc Miller, Director of IDNR, about proposed cuts to the Department's budget, and the potential results.

The FREP Government Relations Committee provides contact information for legislators  serving the Fox River Watershed, as well as Governor Pat Quinn and additional links HERE on the FREP Website. They encourage you to contact legislators, to voice your concerns. FREP is also sending a letter to Governor Pat Quinn and our legislators.
Message from Director Marc Miller:
As we near next week’s House Appropriations hearing for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, we look back at budgets for natural resources over the last decade, and forward to what is at stake in the future.

Past cuts have already been deep.
--
Since 2002, IDNR’s funding from the state’s General Revenue Funds (from broad taxes, not fees on users of IDNR’s services) has been cut 52%, from $107 million in 2002 to $51 million in 2011.
--There are 615 fewer people at IDNR, from a headcount of 1,986 in 2002 down to 1,371 in the year 2011.
--No GRF and greatly reduced bond-funded capital since FY04 means a $700 million backlog of deferred maintenance at state parks.
--As a result, the IDNR leaned more heavily on its constituents, through licenses and fees.  Balances in funds that hold these revenues have been depleted because of GRF cuts and because of sweeps of cash in those funds.  Current projections are that, without some change, most of these other funds (such as Boating, Natural Areas, State Parks, Parks and Conservation) will be drawn to near zero within one to two years.

These trends are not supportable, if we are to keep current services or even grow them to meet emerging needs such as engaging younger generations in nature and the outdoors.
The next several weeks are key.   While recent Legislative actions are bringing more revenues into the State’s General Funds, the State as a whole is not out of the woods financially.   Revenue projections being used by the Legislature to craft the Fiscal Year 2012 budget are about $2 billion dollars lower than those in the Governor’s introduced budget (which held IDNR whole at least at its current reduced level).   It is likely that major additional cuts in state services will be made by the Legislature soon.
What is at stake?    Here are some impacts if more General Revenue Funds reductions are made to IDNR.
--GRF supports about one-third of front-line state park staff.  Cuts would reduce the quality of resources to park visitors.
--GRF funds half of Conservation Police field officers, with severe implications for public safety:  reducing frontline protection for park visitors, emergency/disaster response, hunting and fishing compliance, and natural resources protection.
--GRF pays for all Illinois State Museum facilities (321,000 visitors a year).
--GRF reductions would affect Lake Michigan water allocation, providing water for 7 million residents of NE Illinois, and mandated programs including waterway construction permitting, dam safety, and lock and dam operations on Fox River/Chain O’Lakes.
--GRF reductions would delay or eliminate planning services for state and local trails and parks, natural resources conservation projects, and open space.
--GRF reductions could shut down the mine safety program since GRF provides match for federal funds.
Why should every Illinois resident care?  Whether or not you use the state parks, IDNR improves your life every day, by creating jobs, ensuring safety of people and property,  providing quality education, making state government more efficient, helping protect our most vulnerable citizens, and preserving our natural resources.
--State parks welcome 45 million visitors annually, supporting $1 billion in visitor spending and 8,500 jobs.
--Outdoor recreation (boating, camping, fishing, hunting, picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife observation, swimming and trail use) creates a $3.2 billion annual economic impact in Illinois supporting 33,000 jobs statewide.
--Regulation of mining and oil and gas production helps sustain 50,000 jobs with $6 billion of annual production in Illinois.
--IDNR regulates dam safety protecting $4.5 billion in real property.
--IDNR coordinates the National Flood Insurance program saving Illinoisans $1.2 million in reduced premiums. IDNR helps protect 4.4 million acres of land – including about 1 million acres of agricultural land valued at $5.6 billion and producing $543 million in commodities annually by oversight of a levee system.
--IDNR directs the multi-agency response to the Asian carp invasion in the Chicago area, protecting billions of dollars of trade.
--Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger provided 2.7 million meals to needy citizens of Illinois; “Target Hunger Now!” program fed more than 1,000 people in Fall 2010.
--Conservation Police, with full police powers and statewide jurisdiction, invest 160,000 man-hours annually protecting Illinois citizens annually, many in underserved areas.
Thank you for your interest in programs of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  I hope we have your continued support and involvement as we work to shape the IDNR of the future in light of new fiscal realities.

Yours in Conservation,
Marc Miller, Director Illinois Department of Natural Resources
 
FREP Noon Network
Wednesday, April 20, 2011     Noon - 1:30 PM
Program:  Focus on Sleepy Hollow Creek Watershed Planning
Including Tour of Crystal Lake Waste Water Treatment Plant
Presenter: Jim Huchel, Wastewater Superintendent
Location: City of Crystal Lake’s WWTP # 3 400 Knaack Blvd, Crystal Lake, IL
Just behind Knaack Manufacturing (Emerson), north side.  Knaack Blvd. is a small dead- end street that runs north from Terra Cotta Ave (Route 176). Park on the south side of the Maintenance Garage Building on the plant property.
 
Upcoming Noon Networks:
Wednesday, June 15, 2011  Noon - 1:30 PM
Program: Hawks Bluff Park, Batavia Park Dist. 30 acres of wetland, stream corridor and remnant Oak Savannah.
Use of permeable pavers in the parking area                                        Location: Meet at Hawks Bluff Park, Batavia
Wednesday, August 17, 2011   Noon - 1:30 PM
Program: Focus on Silver Creek Watershed Planning                         Location: TBA
Wednesday, October 19, 2011   Noon - 1:30 PM
Program: Focus on Ferson-Otter Creek Watershed Planning            Location: TBA
FREP members, potential members, and the general public are welcome to attend FREP meetings and programs. Learn more about activities in the watershed and network with others.
FREP Meeting Minutes can be found HERE.
Program Presentations Online:  If you missed a recent Noon Network or meeting program, you can find many presentations in pdf form on the FREP Website HERE.
FREP Government Relations Committee
Are you interested in learning more about current environmental legislation?  Do you have connections with local senators or representatives?  The Government Relations Committee has a place for you!  The Committee organizes an annual event, Conversations about Conservation with our Legislators and works to inform the membership of proposed legislation that impacts FREP’s mission.  The Committee is open to other tasks and ideas.

If you are interested in joining, please contact Katie Parkhurst at 847-658-4184 or katieparkhurst@algonquin.org.
The time commitment is minimal and you will learn a lot and can be part of the planning for our next Conversations program in September.
 
Watershed Planning
Watershed Planning 
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the delegated authority for the region’s areawide water quality management plan. CMAP has an agreement with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to complete four watershed-based plans within the Fox River Basin.  Watershed planning commenced Sept. 2010 in Blackberry Creek and Ferson-Otter Creek watersheds (Lower Fox River, Kane and Kendall counties) and in Sleepy Hollow Creek and Silver Creek watersheds (Upper Fox River, McHenry County).  Funding for these projects was provided by the IEPA through Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Read more about the project and information about each of the four watersheds HERE.
Watershed Planning Meeting Schedule:  Meetings are open to the public, anyone interested is welcome to attend and participate.
Blackberry Creek Watershed Meeting 
Tuesday, March 22,
Stakeholder Meeting  2-4 PM      Open House 4:30 - 6:30 PM

Elburn Village Hall, 301 E. North St., Elburn
Contact Erin Tuttle at: etuttle@theconservationfoundation.org  630-428-4500, Ext. 41   Webpage

Ferson-Otter Creek Watershed Meeting
Tuesday, March 29,  2-4 PM      Open House 4:30 - 6:30 PM
Location: TBA
Contact Erin Tuttle at: etuttle@theconservationfoundation.org  630-428-4500, Ext. 41    Webpage

Sleepy Hollow Creek Watershed and Silver Creek Watershed Meeting
Wednesday, April 13, 1:30-3:30 PM
Cary Park Dist. Community Center
255 Briargate Rd., Cary
 
Webpages:     Silver     Sleepy Hollow
Contact Lynn Rotunno at: watershedinfo@mcdefenders.net     815-338-0393
Additional Watershed Planning Groups
There are other active watershed groups involved with planning and implementation activities. Visit our Subwatersheds page for more information or these specific Websites/Webpages:

Tyler Creek Watershed  Meeting,  Wednesday, March 30, 4:30 PM at Judson College, Elgin

Jelkes Creek Watershed  Meeting Tuesday, March 22, 7 PM, Sleepy Hollow Village Hall

Spring Creek has also begun the planning process. Contact info is on our Subwatersheds page
 
 
Other Activities & News of Interest
If you have an activity or event you'd like FREP to share on our Website or in the Downstream, please email the information to Becky at: foxriverinfo@comcast.net
Wednesday
April 6
Northeastern Illinois Envirothon, Wheaton
More information on the Websites for:
North Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District
Kane-DuPage Soil & Water Conservation District
Saturday
April 30
11 AM - 4 PM
Earth Day Celebration
Sponsored by McHenry County Conservation District &
Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Rd., Crystal Lake
 
Funding News
Illinois American Water 2011 Environmental Grant Program   DEADLINE March 25
apply for up to $10,000 of grant money to make some immediate watershed improvements
Press Release    Brochure   Grant Form
Upper Mississippi River Watershed Fund - National Fish & Wildlife Foundation    DEADLINE April 15   Weblink
Grant awards will range from $15,000 to $75,000.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2011 Request for Applications - Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Grants are available to fund a wide range of projects, including work to target invasive species, to reduce the impact of toxic substances and nonpoint pollution, to protect public health, and to clean up heavily contaminated “Areas of Concern” around the Great Lakes Basin.      DEADLINE April 11    Webinars March 9 & 17   Weblink
 
Other News/Information
A Kane County Forest Preserve District Land Preservation and Preserve Improvement Referendum
will be on the ballot April 5, 2011
Purpose:  Continue successful land acquisition program and make improvements to existing preserves for public enjoyment    Information sheet
Illinois RiverWatcher Newsletter Spring 2011
New website:  GoGreenMcHenry.com
 
Becky Hoag, Communications Manager, Fox River Ecosystem Partnership    630-482-9157
foxriverinfo@comcast.net   Please Email me if you have an Email to add to our mailing list.
FREP WEBSITE:  foxriverecosystem.org