Tag Archives: IDNR

Illinois Gun Control Legislation in Progress

When I woke up this morning the last thing I really felt like thinking about was gun control. Being a gun owner, I had been dwelling on it enough ever since Sandy Hook.

But because of recent developments in Springfield in trying to get gun control legislation passed (HB 815 and HB1263 if you care to look them up) it was like being slapped awake this morning.

Doom and gloom, our guns are being taken away from us. Soon marauding hordes will be kicking down our doors to rob us and rape us and kill us.

In my 56 years I have never even considered any of that as a possibility, but that’s all I could find this morning on the local outdoor sites I visit.

What is being missed in all this doom and gloom noise are the voices of reasonable and responsible hunters.

I like to think I am one of those.

I read through the legislation, not being a lawyer, it’s grueling, and there is not a single thing in it that would have any affect on my ability to hunt in Illinois. The legislation has no effect on any gun I own. I have no interest in hand guns, so bans on those don’t bother me at all.

The only thing I have an issue with is the insistence of magazines that hold no more than 10 rounds.

Ten is too much, I’d rather see a five round limit. If I’m out target shooting, no skin off my butt to stop and reload a magazine after five shots.

My friend Mark Kasick found a couple of articles that he linked to on Facebook. These voices of reason are worth reading.

A Conservative Case for an Assault Weapons Ban

An Open Letter to Fellow Gun Owners

I am all for expanding gun control like Illinois is proposing to the federal level, even stricter. As I said, it will have no affect on my ability to go out hunting.

The only thing that will keep gun control from happening is that the ones that should care will get distracted or give up. You can’t do that. You’ll have nobody but yourself to blame when another Sandy Hook or Aurora or some other tragedy happens.

The anti gun control crowd is organizing and contacting every one that needs to be contacted in order to defeat this gun control legislation.

If they succeed it will only be because everyone else sat on their hands and did nothing.

Swimming upstream faster than the current… (part 1)

Over the last couple of days, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller has sent out a couple of email that reads like a State of the Union address for the DNR and goes into some detail about the recently passed DNR Sustainability Bill.

This link is in the following letter from Marc Miller, but in case you don’t think the IDNR has any effect on your life, you may want to go read this first:

Did You Know? DNR Facts and Figures

__________

Dear DNR constituent:

The passage of the DNR Sustainability Bill (SB1566) is a significant victory for conservation and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). What the bill does is allow the agency to keep state parks and sites open and begin to address a backlog of needed facility repairs, which now totals $750 million. It also allows us to address other program problems for the agency.

The bill took nearly a year to negotiate and included over 40 DNR constituent groups in talks, who worked with sponsor Rep. Frank Mautino for a consensus bill. A key component and big “win” for conservation included in the bill was the rarely used anti-sweeps language that ensures funds would not be used for other purposes than keeping state parks open and programs working. Governor Pat Quinn’s management and budget director also signed a letter committing to not sweep these funds and hold DNR’s funding level.

This level of commitment to DNR should not be a surprise. During Governor Quinn’s first week on the job and my first day on the job as Director, he signed a different bill that replaced diverted sportsmen’s funds that were swept by our predecessors. We have been working diligently ever since to protect these funds and use them for conservation.

The Sustainability Bill will take effect as law on January 1st, and we project that eventually it will provide DNR with an estimated $30 to $33 million dollars annually to be deposited into dedicated funds connected with each revenue source. There are several steps that the agency needs to take start collecting funds, such as creating rules and regulations and implementing IT infrastructure, and it will be 9 to 12 months before the agency begins to receive the new funding.

I would like to thank those organizations who supported the Sustainability Bill, negotiated its details, and worked for its passage. It is our intent to work as quickly as possible to take the necessary steps to capture new revenues and apply these funds to DNR parks and programs, create new jobs and promote economic development, and to restructure DNR for future generations.

We will uphold our mission of managing the state’s natural resources and begin to repair some of the past neglect from budget cuts. DNR constituents need to understand, however, that victory could be temporary because the state’s budget problems will threaten our progress in the near future. Pension obligations and unpaid bills squeeze agencies like DNR and make General Revenue funds less available for everyday operations. If lawmakers do not act to address the pension squeeze, then everyone’s hard work towards DNR sustainability will be erased by these larger fiscal problems.

Our success at the legislature is one step towards sustainability and demonstrates that we are swimming upstream faster than the current. Stay tuned and I will explain in a second email how you can help DNR and secure the progress we have already made.

Yours in conservation,
Marc Miller, Director
Illinois DNR

A Walk in the Park a Source of Revenue for the IDNR – Repost

This is the third time I’m referencing this post. The first time I put it up was August of 2011.

I normally wouldn’t do this, but over the weekend I came across a couple of blurbs in different outdoor magazines. Each one mentioned the elimination of site superintendents and the closing of some of Illinois’ State Parks. Never was it mentioned that Illinois should start charging a fee to visitors of the parks.

Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa don’t charge fees to get into their state parks. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana all do. I know a considerable amount of people that travel to the four states where there are state park fees and they have all said that they gladly pay the fee in order to get into the parks. I don’t hesitate in paying the fee when I head up to Devil’s Lake Wisconsin to go camping.

I think the time to start charging visitor fees at Illinois State Parks has come.

In 2010, one of the places I like to hunt had such limited hours on the weekends that it was no longer worth going there. I’m sure the average non-hunting user of our state parks knew nothing about this. One way to drive home the point that there are staff and revenue shortages would be to shut down Starved Rock State Park at noon on both weekend days. Maybe close it on Sunday altogether. This could be done at a number of state parks that are popular to users other than hunters and anglers.

I wonder how loud the resulting uproar would be.

The fees probably wouldn’t stop the financial bleeding of the IDNR, but if all fees collected are earmarked for the state parks, then maybe none will have to be closed and they can be fully staffed.

It’s better than doing nothing, which is what we are doing right now.

____________________________________

My wife and I went for our usual walk around Silver Springs State Park on Sunday. Living only a 5 minute drive away, we find ourselves there 2 to 5 times a week.

Sunday the parking lot on the east end was full, we got the last spot. What a change from our weekday walks here when we have the whole place to ourselves. People have become weekenders when it comes to getting out, they should consider changing that.

A number of families were hanging out having picnics. A half dozen boats were out on the lake being paddled or rowed. A few fishermen were hanging out dunking worms.

We ran into one family and compared notes with them on how many monarch caterpillars were being found. We suddenly didn’t feel so odd walking up to milkweed plants and checking the underside of leaves. We’re not the only ones out here doing it.

On our walk we ran into a Cub Scout Den going for a hike, almost 50 kids and parents. More people were walking the shore along the Fox River. From our vantage point we could see a few parking lots on the west end that also looked full.

Off in the distance the sound of shotguns could be heard at the shooting range. Based on the shooting, there were quite a few up there. I have no doubt there were a few taking advantage of the archery range, there usually is.

We didn’t see any horses out here this time, but there are times when a couple of parking lots off the main road are full of horse trailers.

Did I mention the few fishermen? Couldn’t have been more than 10.

And yet, they were probably the only ones that paid something in order to take advantage of all the different things available at this state park.

You have to have a fishing license.

I think it’s time to change this.

Over the past 10 years the general revenue portion of DNR’s budget has fallen over 50% – from $100M to $48M – and this is the portion of the budget that funds state parks, law enforcement, museums and regulatory functions. I think the average user of the states parks doesn’t know or notice this. It’s only a matter of time till that changes with the cutting of services or the closing of some facilities.

I remember reading not too long ago that Illinois was considering charging entrance fees to state parks much like what is done in Wisconsin. If you’ve never looked, they’re not unreasonable.

Wisconsin DNR Park Fees

I already buy over $50 worth of fishing and hunting licenses every year. If Illinois implemented a fee structure like that in Wisconsin, I would gladly pay another $25 for a sticker that would allow me into any of the state parks for the year. Based on how often I go to fish and hunt, and how often my wife and I go just for a walk, it comes out to less then 50 cents per visit.

I’m sure it would take a few years to implement a program like this, a lot of work would need to be done building check in gates at each of the parks alone. I’m sure there are some park properties where this simply won’t work, but over the long haul, revenue would be coming in from people using the state parks that goes above and beyond just anglers and hunters.

To me it’s a very simple question that needs to be put to those that don’t fish or hunt, but like to visit the state parks.

What is Illinois’ natural resources worth to you?

If you’re like my wife and I and it comes out to less than 50 cents per visit over the course of a year, I would say that’s money well spent.

A Walk in the Park

I guess I do spend a lot of time there.

A Walk in the Park a Source of Revenue for the IDNR

My wife and I went for our usual walk around Silver Springs State Park on Sunday. Living only a 5 minute drive away, we find ourselves there 2 to 5 times a week.

Sunday the parking lot on the east end was full, we got the last spot. What a change from our weekday walks here when we have the whole place to ourselves. People have become weekenders when it comes to getting out, they should consider changing that.

A number of families were hanging out having picnics. A half dozen boats were out on the lake being paddled or rowed. A few fishermen were hanging out dunking worms.

We ran into one family and compared notes with them on how many monarch caterpillars were being found. We suddenly didn’t feel so odd walking up to milkweed plants and checking the underside of leaves. We’re not the only ones out here doing it.

On our walk we ran into a Cub Scout Den going for a hike, almost 50 kids and parents. More people were walking the shore along the Fox River. From our vantage point we could see a few parking lots on the west end that also looked full.

Off in the distance the sound of shotguns could be heard at the shooting range. Based on the shooting, there were quite a few up there. I have no doubt there were a few taking advantage of the archery range, there usually is.

We didn’t see any horses out here this time, but there are times when a couple of parking lots off the main road are full of horse trailers.

Did I mention the few fishermen? Couldn’t have been more than 10.

And yet, they were probably the only ones that paid something in order to take advantage of all the different things available at this state park.

You have to have a fishing license.

I think it’s time to change this.

Over the past 10 years the general revenue portion of DNR’s budget has fallen over 50% – from $100M to $48M – and this is the portion of the budget that funds state parks, law enforcement, museums and regulatory functions. I think the average user of the states parks doesn’t know or notice this. It’s only a matter of time till that changes with the cutting of services or the closing of some facilities.

I remember reading not too long ago that Illinois was considering charging entrance fees to state parks much like what is done in Wisconsin. If you’ve never looked, they’re not unreasonable.

Wisconsin DNR Park Fees

I already buy over $50 worth of fishing and hunting licenses every year. If Illinois implemented a fee structure like that in Wisconsin, I would gladly pay another $25 for a sticker that would allow me into any of the state parks for the year. Based on how often I go to fish and hunt, and how often my wife and I go just for a walk, it comes out to less then 50 cents per visit.

I’m sure it would take a few years to implement a program like this, a lot of work would need to be done building check in gates at each of the parks alone. I’m sure there are some park properties where this simply won’t work, but over the long haul, revenue would be coming in from people using the state parks that goes above and beyond just anglers and hunters.

To me it’s a very simple question that needs to be put to those that don’t fish or hunt, but like to visit the state parks.

What is Illinois’ natural resources worth to you?

If you’re like my wife and I and it comes out to less than 50 cents per visit over the course of a year, I would say that’s money well spent.

A Walk in the Park

I guess I do spend a lot of time there.