Our Natural Resources
Edgar signs Landmark Legislation for Our Natural Resources
On June 29 Governor Jim Edgar approved landmark legislation that provides the framework for comprehensive protection of Illinois' natural resources and reduces the bureaucracy of state government.
"[These bills] better focus our efforts to protect and enhance our abundant natural resources in a more coordinated and more efficient manner," the Governor said.
Edgar signed legislation that he proposed to provide a stable funding mechanism for natural resource protection and outdoor recreation programs and to reorganize the state's natural resource-related functions into a single agency.
"Conservation 2000 commits $100 million over the next six years to natural resources. It is the largest resource stewardship effort ever undertaken by this state," the Governor said. "It is critical that we work in partnership with landowners to protect Illinois' landscape for future generations. This initiative will help to achieve that goal by providing stable funding for natural resources planning and management into the 21st century."
The Conservation 2000 legislation, Senate Bill 300, will:
•Foster sustainable agriculture practices and control soil erosion and sedimentation, including grants to Soil and Water Conservation Districts;
"This is an important new tool that will help state government preserve Illinois' precious natural resources and develop new quality outdoor recreation opportunities," the Governor said.
The programs contained in Conservation 2000 were recommended by the Governor's Water Resources and Land Use Priorities Task Force and Conservation Congress, an advisory group of elected delegates representing more than 400 constituency groups dedicated to natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation.
Speaking at the bill signing, IAPD Past President Judy Beck (Commissioner, Glenview Park District) said that Conservation 2000 is an effort in volving many diverse groups which, in the beginning, wondered if they could talk to one another, but in the end they found a lot of common ground. Beck thanked the Governor
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the opportunity for Conservation 2000 and said that DNR Director Brent Manning provided the leadership to see the effort through.
Leading sponsors of Senate Bill 300 were Senators Harry "Babe" Woodyard (R-Chrisman), John Maitland (R-Bloomington), Steven Rauschenberger (R-Elgin), Karen Hasara (R-Springfield), and William O'Daniel (D-Mt. Vernon), and Representatives Tom Ryder (R-Jerseyville), Raymond Poe (R-Springfield), Vincent Persico (R-Glen Ellyn), Jay Ackerman (R-Morton) and Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac).
The Governor also signed Senate Bill 336, which implements his Executive Order to combine the functions of several natural resource agencies to make their operations more efficient and better focused.
"This move will provide for clear direction in natural resources policies of this state, and it will further my efforts to make state government both more responsible and responsive to Illinois citizens," the Governor said.
The legislation creates the Department of Natural Resources, combining the Department of Conservation, the Department of Mines and Minerals, the Abandoned Mined Lands Reclamation Council, the Division of Water Resources of the Department of Transportation and portions of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (ENR).
It also transfers ENR's recycling, energy and oil overcharge functions to the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 336 were Senators Todd Sieben (R-Geneseo) and Representatives Tom Ryder (R-Jerseyville), Vincent Persico (R-Glen Ellyn) and Andrea Moore (R-Libertyville).
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Sam S. Manivong, Illinois Periodicals Online Coordinator