Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IDNR Fails to Address Waterfowl Hunters Regarding Proposed Rule Changes at Blind Drawings Across the State

This past weekend thousands of waterfowl hunters and enthusiasts attended waterfowl blind drawings across Illinois and how many of them received information from the DNR related to this new proposed rule regarding waterfowl blinds?  Most likely, very few people received any information about this.    If you recall we informed you of this when it was first introduced as legislation and it has since been filed as an administrative rule that is going through the JCAR process.  During the first notice period, public comments are sent to the DNR related to the new rule.  From the DNR 2nd Notice report you can see how many comments were sent in. 
How many comments were received?
Following this proposal going on first notice, the Department received 382 comments regarding the proposed change. 380 comments were in opposition to the original proposed change, one comment in support of the change, and one commenter’s position was unknown.

Of those in opposition, 353 of the comments were one of two form letters which were signed and mailed to the Department, primarily from the Quincy (158) and Batchtown (35) areas, or did not include a return address (68). Three other form letters were received accounting for 15 comments. Twelve comments were unique. 
The majority of comments in opposition focused on these main themes: 
  • Negatively impacting waterfowl hunters (217 comments) 
  • reducing blind safety and longevity (136 comments) 
  • increasing the propensity for blind roofs to rot impacting the integrity of the blind (136 comments) 
  • creating greater expense and work in building boat hides (136 comments)
Many waterfowl hunters are frustrated with the DNR and the lack of transparency and communication related to not only this issue but many other issues.  Glenn Sanders, a former IDNR employee stated the following:
"380 letters of opposition, one in favor and they went right ahead with the rule. IDNR in Springfield clearly does not care about what the hunters (their customers) think. The most ludicrous part of this is they are claiming they need to do this so all the sites are the same. Their entire rule book is hundreds of pages of sites that are handled different. They just implemented email inspections for (sic. Mississippi River) Pools 21/22/24 but NOT Pools 25/26. The other thing is 380 letters from Adams and Pike counties are "too small a sample size to know what hunters want", and yet their hunter surveys only garner 1200 responses statewide!"

Some waterfowl hunters have even thrown up their hands and decided they aren't going to hunt in Illinois anymore.  With a DNR that is losing hunters left and right, and even has started a 'Hunter Recruitment Program', one might think that they would want to take hunter concerns and put them as a priority. 

Sanders continued by stating that, "Springfield does not understand just how many Hunters are recruited into the sport buy these blind builders. The blind builders make a huge investment in the equipment and the blinds and every year the vast majority of them take somebody new along with them and introduce him to the sport." 

The blinds are constructed to last for SAFETY reasons and some of these blinds have withstood many seasons.  At past NRAB meetings, staff have raised concerns that there are too many rules and regulations that are burdening hunters in this state which has contributed to the reduction in hunters overall.  So, why are they continuing to overburden those that are trying to hunt public land in Illinois. 

Do you have concerns regarding this proposed change?

There is still time to submit a public comment related to this.  During the Second Notice period comments should be submitted to JCAR via letter, fax, phone or e-mail (jcar@ilga.gov).

The second notice period lasts 45 days and then JCAR will decide whether or not to post this for a hearing to vote on final rule changes.

Below you can read the Press Release from the DNR that was sent out yesterday, conveniently after the big waterfowl blind weekend.

When the DNR has the opportunity to address thousands of waterfowl hunters simultaneously at blind drawings across the state they did not even mention it.  This is Bad Government.  Is the DNR afraid of what the people will say?  Maybe if the department reached out more and attended more events the public would be better receptive and more engaged to the happenings of the DNR.

Unfortunately, we would not expect anything less from this administration as transparency has been an ongoing issue which has been addressed and continues to be ignored. This includes the fact that we have reached out to sit down with the Director and over seven months later, he still has yet to meet with us.

We have reached out to the DNR for comments related to this and to see whether or not the Director discussed these possible changes at the Sanganois Waterfowl Drawing, of which he was in attendance along side over 1200 other people and we are still awaiting a response.

Mazonia Waterfowl Blind Drawing 


PRESS RELEASE:
IDNR Proposing Changes in Rules Regarding Construction of Waterfowl Blinds at Public Sites
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has amended changes in regulations regarding materials that can be used to construct waterfowl hunting blinds at public hunting sites that would begin with the 2019-2020 allocation period.

IDNR was proposing the restrictions in blind construction materials in an effort to reduce debris in waterways and adjacent property. Some blind materials end up in water bodies or waterways each year when waterfowl blinds degrade or are destroyed by time, ice, floods, or other events. Materials such as metal and plastic fencing, metal panels, roofing materials, and metal poles can litter waterways and create hazards for boaters, anglers, and other site users that can cause damage or injury.

The proposed amendment to the Duck, Goose and Coot Hunting regulations (17 Illinois Administrative Code 590) has been submitted to the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) for consideration in hopes of implementing the changes beginning with blinds that are allocated for the 2019-2020 hunting seasons.

IDNR first proposed changes to the regulations earlier this year. After receiving public comments, IDNR identified revisions that are reflected in the proposal that has been submitted to JCAR.

For more details on the history of the change, the amended changes and text of the administrative rule, check the IDNR website at:
https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/adrules/documents/17-59-FAQ-Second%20Notice%20Changes%20in%20Red.pdf

More information on the regulatory process can be found at: http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/default.htm.



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