Outdoors Column | Les Winkeler: Financial state of IDNR in a pandemic


That means IDNR, which has already been stretched thin, will likely be facing several more lean years.

However, all the news isn’t dire.

The Illinois legislature passed the Sustainability Bill in 2012, giving IDNR a dedicated source of funding. The bill requires $2 from every license plate be dedicated to the IDNR. That isn’t enough money for the agency to flourish, but the Sustainability Bill means IDNR isn’t solely dependent on the whims of the legislature, or totally at the mercy of economic trends.

The infusion of cash has been a godsend for the IDNR. The agency was ravaged by then Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Funds meant for the agency were illegally swept and used for other purposes. Deep personnel cuts were made and necessary maintenance was deferred.

Since that time, jobs have been filled. Necessary repairs have been made. But, there is still so much to be done.

We are woefully short of Conservation Police Officers. Most “game wardens" as they were formerly called, serve 3-4 counties. There is no other word than inadequate to describe that situation. Site superintendents, the people who oversee state parks and conservation areas, have as many as six or seven sites under their control. That isn’t sustainable.

And, while some maintenance backlogs are being taken care of, there is still much work to do. One of the questions posed to Callahan on Monday night involved the fate of the shuttered Rend Lake Resort – a casualty of the Blagojevich budget cuts and the Bruce Rauner budget impasse.

via The Southern

October 31, 2020 at 07:16AM

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