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Print

Governor using Illinois DNR in game of chicken

August 28, 2008 at 07:08 PM

The ongoing game of chicken over the Illinois budget raced closer to an ugly crash Thursday.

Faced with drastic budget cuts, the Department of Natural Resources announced it will close 11 state parks and lay off 39 workers.

“The sites will close their doors on Nov. 1,” said Chris McCloud, a DNR spokesman. “This is a very tough day for everyone.”

Parks to be closed are:

  • Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park, Sheffield
  • Illini State Park, Marseilles
  • Wolf Creek State Park, Windsor
  • Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
  • Lowden State Park, Oregon
  • Hidden Springs State Forest, Strasburg
  • Channahon Parkway State Park, Channahon
  • Gebhard Woods State Park, Morris
  • Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood
  • Moraine View State Park, Leroy
  • Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton.

Many, including me, assume this is yet another attempt by Gov. Blagojevich to force the General Assembly to act on his demands.

Because there’s no doubt threatening to close parks during hunting season will generate a response. So will cutting 304 workers in the Department of Children and Family Services, 73 staffers in the Department of Human Services, and 34 employees in the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

And people should be upset by the latest proposal, which Jonathan Goldman of the Illinois Environmental Council called “shameful.” Actually, that sums up Blagojevich’s overall treatment of DNR.

Yes these are tough financial times. But Blagojevich has treated the DNR as his whipping boy for six years. That the governor has not bothered to appoint a director for DNR underlines how little he cares for the agency.

That’s not lost on outdoors enthusiasts. Unrest is at an all-time high. I predict legislators will be flooded with irate calls and letters in the next week.

That’s why part of me says the parks will not close in November and those DNR workers will keep their jobs.

But another part of me says things are bad enough right now that we might actually see closures — if only until legislators gather in Springfield Nov. 5 for the annual veto session.

“I think it’s important to understand these are not decisions we wanted to make,” McCloud said. “We knew this was a possibility at DNR. The budget the governor got was $2.1 billion underfunded.”

McCloud said legislators also failed to approve plans to generate more money for DNR. One such plan was a fee increase for put-and-take pheasant hunting.  Another tabled item was an entrance fee for state parks, an idea whose time has come.

Even so, it’s curious that on Wednesday the DNR posted a new job position in the office of Sam Flood, acting director. Does hiring make sense given that layoffs are in the works?

It’s also curious that Rice Lake appeared on the first list of sites slated for closure. McCloud said that was a mistake. 

And why are no parks in southern Illinois closing? Think Flood, who is from southwestern Illinois, had anything to do with that?

McCloud said the decision was based on careful analysis.

“After looking at some studies and talking with some convention and visitors folks, it’s obvious southern Illinois relies in some cases almost exclusively on tourism dollars,” McCloud said. “We wanted to minimize the impact on those areas.”

Threatening to close parks is not a novel idea, mind you. Gov. Edgar did the same thing. On Aug. 28, 1992 he announced that DNR was facing 67 layoffs and that 40 parks were going to be impacted.

Public outcry was so loud that only two parks (Lincoln Trail Homestead and Peabody River King) were closed until funding improved in the mid-1990s.

Here’s hoping something similar happens again.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Lets hope obama fires blago

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 07:27 PM

Lets hope they both slip in the shower.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 07:36 PM

Who do we call, who do we e-mail? WE have to do something about this!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 07:37 PM

Exactly Brooke, I am @%#sed as anyone else.  But please for the 3rd time someone give me(us) some numbers, addresses, phone #s…  I will do my part as should all of us.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 08:26 PM

Go here to get phone numbers and addresses for all General Assembly members.

http://www.ilga.gov/

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 08/28 at 08:53 PM

If you have to ask HOW to contact your legislators and the guv, then you are part of the problem.  I write or call my legislators and the guv’s office on a regular basis about issues important to me.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 10:16 PM

Riverrat, thank you for accusing me of being part of the problem, but I just sent out over 50 faxes to legislators. How about we don’t point fingers at eachother, rather work together to stop this.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 10:36 PM

Mr Lampe,  please use your power of the pen and save these places. You now have the reigns. Where you go I will follow!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 10:45 PM

I heard on the news shows this morning that Jubilee was getting closed down, but I dont see it on any list anywhere.  Is the college part getting closed but not the park, or what.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/29 at 06:23 AM

Blogo = FAIL!!!!

Posted by SILOUTDOORS on 08/29 at 06:40 AM

We best look at our Presidential choices real hard. Do we really want the “choosen one” in the white house knowing he is one of Blago’s buddies.  That only gives our Governor more power to swing his ax.
Not a real big fan of McCain but at least he supports hunters and IF his pick is the Governor of Alaska she strongly supports second amendments rights and is a real hunter not one who just picks up a gun for a photo shoot.  Lets all get rolling and gets our voices heard, contact your lawmakers now and let them know your feeling on our Governors
heavy hand…...

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/29 at 08:41 AM

After looking at some studies and talking with some convention and visitors folks, it’s obvious southern Illinois relies in some cases almost exclusively on tourism dollars,” McCloud said. “We wanted to minimize the impact on those areas.”

Oh, I see…don’t you think it would have also messed up the Gov’s plans for moving IDOT workers too???  And boys and girls, let’s all do some math.  When you add up the attendance from the list of closures to State Parks and Historic sites, from numbers anyone can find on the internet, the Gov just slammed the door on 5.5 million visitors!!! Thank you Alfred P. Newman, Governor of our state!  Mope.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/29 at 08:51 AM

Governors office number is 217-782-6830.  Tell all your friends to call and express there views.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/29 at 02:04 PM

Listen You riverrat contacting this people doesn’t do us any good.  I asked a damn question. Not for your bs.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/29 at 07:43 PM

Add Tony Mayville at DNR to your list of people to contact if you are unhappy with these closings.
  Tonight, I visited the “terminally diagnosed” park that brings me a sense of peace to my very soul: Weldon Springs State Park.  I could remember my adult children burning off energy as toddlers there; I could sense the presence of my late father at Veteran’s Point (one of the most spectacular war memorials anywhere in Illinois.  I smiled to think of the ISU students who make pilgrimages there to sled down its spectacular hill.  Perhaps I will go there anyway, and be arrested as a trespasser.  But if trespassing in my state park is a crime, isn’t suffocating DNR also a crime?  Perhaps the governor will be my jailmate!  By the way, this is a park Better Homes and Gardens named one of the best in the entire U.S. a few years ago!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/30 at 12:46 AM

So why did they name a park Jim Edgar Panther Creek? If he is for closing parks, why name one for him?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/30 at 06:42 PM

I often frequent the parks along the I & M Canal as an escape from the crowded parks near Chicago and the suburbs. I was devistated to hear not one, but 3 of these parks were closing.

The city of Channahon will be having a rally to save Channahon State Park on Monday (Sept. 1) at 9am at the park. I encourage anyone in the area to attend, not just in support of Channahon but in support of all the parks slated to close.

I also encourage people to organize similar rallies for the parks effected by you. The more of us that join together, the stronger message we send!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/31 at 04:04 PM

Here is idea for Blago. I suggest that he should sell the Chain-of-Lakes and the Illinois Beach state parks! Both are lake front properties, easily worth 100,000 dollars an acre. They total about 7000 acres combined, so they could easily fetch 700 million dollars (or enough to get blago elected four more years)!! The reason I would offer up the Chain-of-Lakes is the fact that half the the park is closed three months out of the year anyways. Plus the county forest preserves already offer about 30,000 acres for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and other natural activities—except god forbid HUNTING. The Illinois Beach state park should be sold because it is closed every summer due to high ecoli counts on the beach.          Oh wait, what the hell was I thinking, these are Chicago parks!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 03:21 AM

They spare Southern Illinois, because it would wreck their local tourism.  But Ogle County and Oregon lose 500,000 annual visitors. These people represent millions and millions of dollars to our local economy.  It isn’t just the handful of site technician jobs that are being sacrificed.  Its jobs in our restaurants, stores, convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, etc.

Blago’s short sighted-ness costs the communities and the state a share of the fuel taxes these people generate, the sales taxes these welcome visitors generate.  This won’t stop these people from taking their Sunday drives, their picnics or their camping vacations.  It will just change where they will spend those dollars.

During his campaign, Blago described this area as forsaken and forlorn.  If this is his idea of helping us.  PLEASE give me forsaken and forlorn again…..

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 09:33 AM

Look down at the Hennipen canal.  By Wyanet at the campground you have to be there early in the summer or else you may not get a spot and this is rough camping.  This and a few other places on the canal that I grew up vamping at because of them being close and really decent places to camp and fish.  But also because of it closing that also closes Mautinos state park, run by the canal personnel, and like 80 acres of upland hunting ground 10 miles further south in Bradford.  These are all within 10 miles of me.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/05 at 10:31 PM

Look down at the Hennipen canal.  By Wyanet at the campground you have to be there early in the summer or else you may not get a spot and this is rough camping.  This and a few other places on the canal that I grew up camping at because of them being close and really decent places to camp and fish.  But also because of it closing that also closes Mautinos state park, run by the canal personnel, and like 80 acres of upland hunting ground 10 miles further south in Bradford.  These are all within 10 miles of me.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/05 at 10:32 PM

our gov. should move to the capital instead of the tax payers paying to fly him.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/11 at 07:42 PM

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