Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Illinois Natural Resources Board (NRAB) Meeting Notes - January 22, 2018

Each quarter the Natural Resources Advisory Board meets to discuss a variety of issues. Below you'll see notes from the meeting as well as the live footage. These are just brief notes and should not be viewed as minutes. Not sure what NRAB is about, read more here: Natural Resources Advisory Board of Illinois

Agenda for 1/22/2018 meeting

Open Meetings Act – George Sisk
Amend Bylaws to allow for members to attend meetings via video conference. According to George Sisk, NRAB may allow members to attend meetings other than being physically present. This change will allow members from the Chicago area to conference in to attend meetings. Due to the board being an advisory board, no quorum is needed. The board only needs to have meetings in a location that is accessible to the public.

Another issue that was discussed was the fact that email conversation between all board members discussing business can be considered a meeting and could be in violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Illinois Natural History Survey Reference/NRAB Statute – John Fleischli
NRAB is not responsible for the day to day operations of the Illinois Natural History Survey Reference, however it is placed within statute so that NRAB may utilize them as a resource.

State Park Update – Regan Ramsey -Director of Land Management

On July 1, 2017 State Historic Sites were added to the Department of Land Management. This included 56 new sites, 50 additional staff and 5800 additional acres with 1960 of those tillable.

There are 5 different regions within the state and each region has a Land Manager. They give structure and guidance to site superintendents and review purchase requests and monitor all projects throughout the parks. This streamlines the parks department and frees up Chief of Parks.

There are 76 Site Superintendents that manage the 109 Main parks throughout the state. They develop a plan for each site in cooperation with the biologists.

Director Rosenthal reinstated the Farm Manager. This position was eliminated over 8 years ago and was previously managed under Concessions. This new Manager, oversees property plans, monitor payments from land tenants, monitors soil and fertilizer levels, among other things. The rent received from the tenants of the land goes back to the park where the land is located.

There have been some purchases made for certain sites. These purchases include tractors, trucks and bobcat like equipment.

Site Projects
Site projects are funded through the sustainability money. This is the $2 fee that was added to the license plate fees.

Repairs include: roof rehabs, dam leaks, shelter construction, replacing fuel tanks, furnace and ac replacement, road repairs and storage shed repair.

There is an $800-850 million backlog of repair, not including Historic Preservations, $150 million shortage.

Waterfowl Bag Limits – Mark Alessi

2018-2019 Waterfowl Bag Limits.
Annually a level is recommended to the Director.

Proposed limits will be mostly the same across the board.

Overall, the only change could be to Pintails with an increase to two a day. They are looking at the population of Canada geese closely, however they are going to maintain the two a day limit on those.

Hunter/Trapper Workshops – Mark Alessi

Learn to Hunt Program
An Individual was hired to develop this project, which is designed to target young adults.

The program was started due to Illinois seeing a reduction in the number of hunters, this reduction contributes to a fiscal problem. When there are less hunters purchasing permits and licenses, a reduction in revenue occurs.

The focus of the program is not necessarily about passing on the tradition, there is a fiscal aspect to it.

Over the years, there has been no dramatic changes to license fees, they remains at $12.50. (Note: If the reduction in hunters continues, will we see an increase?)

Lack of access is a huge problem as well. Illinois has very little public land and its a challenge. So much so, that the reduction in hunters in Illinois could be a result of the lack of land. These hunters are going to nearby states and purchasing licenses from them.

The following is a program run by the state to match landowners with hunters:
IRAP Program
16,500 acres
Provides opportunity and access to hunters across the state.
Pairs landowners with hunters for access.
There is an application process and youth get first slots for the land.
Landowners receive stipend payment and habitat improvement. 

There were 20, two day workshops in 2017, 10 of them dealing with waterfowl and the remaining 10 dealing with terrestrial. Overall, there were 92 participants of the program, with 79 of them completing it. Most of these ranged in age from 18 -25 years old.

(Note: We see some problems with this program. There are so many groups and organizations throughout Illinois that are working to recruit hunters, so why does the state have to manage such a program. We understand that they are gathering research to see how hunters are retained throughout the state, but there may be a better way of spending that money. Also, why focus on recruiting more hunters to a state that lacks funding in the DNR, parks are crumbling and conservation efforts throughout the state are taking a back seat. Maybe, we should focus on habitat and gaining more public land. If we build it they will come. If Illinois has better land, better habitat and more hunting opportunities hunters will flock to our state to hunt.)

Apprentice Hunting License
Other states have looked at changing the apprentice hunting license from one to three years. Increasing this could help recruit individuals into the hunting field.
Motion by board: Look into changing the apprentice license to three years.

(Note: People who obtain hunting apprentice licenses do not need to take a Hunter Education Course. The Apprentice License is at a reduced cost of $7.50.)

Using the Hunter Workshop as a tool to collect data for the future archery plan.

Archery Restrictions Update – Mark Alessi
There are five counties under restriction (Note: We are working on getting the exact counties)

Gun quotas are reduced to the point where they don't want to reduce anymore because there will be people that do not receive permits.

DNR is possibly looking at Buck only harvest for first 15 day of October.

Apply regulatory change to tip population back up.

Update on Deer Website. You can look at it by clicking here.

Per Mark Alessi, the website has been doing well. It provides transparency throughout the deer management process. There is a bunch of data related to quotas, DVAs and historic trends.

Many have asked about the crossbows and how these numbers affected the deer numbers. Unfortunately, these numbers are still being worked out. Have we seen an increase in new hunters due to the crossbow being added? Research is still being worked out on this as well.

Unfortunately, the Call In System does not ask whether a crossbow was used specifically, so the data may be skewed in this area. (Note: this option needs to be added before next season. There needs to be a better way to track crossbow usage to see what it is doing to the population.)

At the next meeting, they will try and dive deeper into these numbers.

Director Notes:

On January 2nd - Rich Brauer was hired as Deputy Director. He will oversee Historic Preservation, Land and Farm Land.

There were about 43 retirees this past December. DNR is still down in personnel.

20 member class
Anticipate another class of 20 the following year
Looking at long term plans for retirees.

Pheasant Fest will be locating in Schaumburg next year!

Stay tuned to our Facebook Page to watch the next NRAB Meeting: April 30th - IDNR Headquarters, Springfield, IL

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