Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Illinois Conservation Congress 2014

Illinois Conservation Congress 2014

This past weekend Capitol Outdoors attended Conservation Congress with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

"The mission of the Illinois Conservation Congress is to give the Illinois Department of Natural Resources constituencies a formal process to propose and advocate actions that can be taken by elected and appointed officials to protect and conserve the natural resources of the State of Illinois. The goal of Conservation Congress is to ensure through professional management that sustainable use, recreational opportunities and enjoyment of these resources is available for this and future generations. Conservation Congress began in 1993 and was modeled after the General Assembly to include representatives from various state interest groups. The process was discontinued in 2003, and then reconstituted in 2009. During the last convening of Conservation Congress in April of 2010, Governor Pat Quinn signed an executive order directing IDNR and Conservation Congress participants to develop proposals for funding clean water, land acquisition, and department operations and create programs to increase public recreational access. That direction served as the basis for the IDNR’s new sustainability package which passed out of the General Assembly and was signed by the governor in late 2012. The sustainability package will generate between $30-33 million per year in new revenue for the IDNR." (http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservationcongress/Pages/default.aspx)

Capitol Outdoors wanted to write a post about Conservation Congress to inform you all how important and educational it was. Over the past year the IDNR has had several regional meetings to discuss priorities to interested parties. They also have hosted several webinars in-which we have participated in. You can still watch these webinars by clicking here. The topics of concern were; Habitat Restoration & Protection, Land & Water Management, Outdoor Recreation, Partnerships to Promote Education & Volunteerism, and Communications.

On April 12 - 13, 2014 the Director of the IDNR Marc Miller hosted organizations from across the state; these organizations are wide ranging from environmental groups to outdoor recreational organizations. During these few days we worked together to help the IDNR prioritize their agenda.

That is why we write this today. Capitol Outdoors noticed the lack of involvement and numbers from outdoors men and women. This is another example of how we are being beaten at a grassroots level. During the Conservation Congress we voted on top priorities. For example in one of the breakdown units that Capitol Outdoors attended we listed where Conservation Police should spend most of their investigative time. Capitol Outdoors voted for Wildlife/Fish Investigations however, Environmental Investigations gained a larger percentage of the vote.  Now, I'm not saying that environmental protection is not important, but I just feel investigating those crimes regarding wildlife and fish are more important. Someone somewhere will say if we had more Conservation Officers in the field they would be able to cover more ground and do more investigating. It goes hand in hand, more Conservation Officers, more Investigating and More funding. The entire group voted on this as well and we overwhelming decided that the IDNR needs to hire more Conservation Officers. 

There you have it. Just one issue and it greatly affects us all.

All Capitol Outdoors is trying to say is next year outdoors men and women need to come to this event. You need to stay informed and let your voice be heard. Once we get more information, we will make sure to send it to all of our subscribers as well as our Facebook and twitter friends.

Remember to Enjoy the Outdoors, Good luck and stay safe.