Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

DNR director’s New Years greeting

January 08, 2010 at 03:03 PM

Here’s tan e-mail Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller sent out to staff recently.

There are some interesting items in here. So read on.

Dear DNR employee: 

As I reflect back on the past year and prepare for the new one, I wanted to take a moment and acknowledge what a pleasure it has been to work with such a dedicated and professional team.  My energy and enthusiasm has been continuously re-energized as I have watched how this agency and its employees accept challenges and not only meet them but exceed expectations.  Your commitment and work brings us renewed recognition. 

One of the reasons I accepted this role - and one of the reasons it was offered to me - was my desire and commitment to rebuild this agency.

This commitment is not only about restoring DNR’s position of conservation leadership, but also with an understanding that our priorities need to better reflect the challenges - societal and recreational changes - that we face.  We need to ensure that the agency and its mission is relevant to constituents, taxpayers, legislators, and appropriators. 

Some of the changes we have made or are making to the agency will help us adapt to these changes and address troubling trends:

Consolidating three offices (public services, special events and administration) into an Office of Strategic Services; Creating a Private Lands and Watersheds division within ORC - to focus on the opportunities for conservation on the 96% (plus) of Illinois in private hands; Considering ways to deliver better public recreational access on private lands (there have been some great ideas here from staff and we’re still working on details - hat tip to Bean-o and Herkert); In addition to hiring a youth program coordinator, we will be hiring outreach and education coordinators and creating an Office/Division of Community Outreach.  (Still some details to be worked out here, but this will be a new effort to reach youth and engage constituencies.)

We continue to focus on bringing qualified natural resource professionals to DNR.  The unprecedented appointment of John Rogner (DNR has never had TWO natural resources professionals running the agency in appointed slots), and bringing on highly qualified individuals like Dr. Jim Herkert, Travis Loyd, and Mitch Cohen to run their Offices give me great pride in our progress. 

There is more to come.  In the next several days and weeks we will be joined by several more professionals - highly qualified, energetic and committed to the mission of DNR - and there will be job postings for positions that we have deemed critical to our mission (Finally, biologists!). 

This budget climate as we all know has been and will continue to be a major challenge for our State.  Our agency has made progress on securing new revenue sources with the legislative approval of our fee increases, and the promise of new federal dollars for the Great Lakes programs, and we are working on other means of revenue.  The passage of a fees bill in veto session was a tremendous victory and one that made many people take notice of our efforts. 

Because of the passage of the fees bill, we are able to justify these new hires.  There are many more critical hires needed throughout the agency, and we will continue to work hard and build a sustainable budget and rationale for these hires.  It will take time and progress will not be as quick as we might like, but we will make progress. 

In the coming year we will need everyone to pursue creative revenue streams and other opportunities for funding. (Contact Tami Evans with any ideas) 

One of our highlights from the past year was the Conservation Congress that was held in October.  Over 150 stakeholders gathered to begin the nuts and bolts work of rebuilding this agency.  Thanks to everyone - especially Debbie Stone - for making this event such a great success.

At this time last year I would never have guessed that a response to an invasive species such as asian carp would have demanded so much time and energy.  Our rapid response effort in December was a shining leadership moment for our agency, and a prime example of how a small group committed people can make a difference. 

DNR led an effort that included multiple international, federal, state, and local partners to ensure that this invasive species would not enter the Great Lakes and threaten one of the world’s great ecosystems.  Thank you to everyone who participated in this effort, and specific gratitude to Steve Shults, John Rogner, Chris McCloud, Randy Heidorn, Truman Scheller, Karen Reuter, Jim Mick, Gary Lutterbie, Steve Pallo, Mitch Cohen, Debbie Fortman, Stacey Solano, all of our law enforcement professionals, other unnamed fisheries biologists (Sallee, Stephenson, Mounce, etc), who worked nights and weekends to not only ensure a successful operation but perhaps more importantly one that was conducted safely and securely in cold temperatures.  Apologies to anyone I didn’t mention - Operation Silver Screen was an enormous project. 
 
Finally, as an agency, one of the major challenges we face in the coming years will be building the next generation of outdoor and conservation enthusiasts - within the Department and in the general public.  Much of our intellectual capital exists in the minds of our staff who are currently eligible to retire or nearing retirement.  I need to tap your collective wisdom and experience as we develop our strategic response to this challenge, and I would like to invite you to join in this effort.

If you have a particular expertise, role, or knowledge, please mentor a junior colleague or new hire internally, and please do the same for those interested in the outdoors in your community (hat tip to Darren Lawary).  There will be more about efforts to meet these challenges in the coming weeks and months.

I am personally excited about the coming year.  Clearly the budget, and projects like asian carp will continue to challenge us in the new year, but we also have some wonderful new programs and initiatives we are getting underway and planning to introduce.  Thank you for all that you do and let’s continue our great work together.

Yours in conservation,
Marc

Your CommentsComments :: Guidelines :: Report a problem

OK, what did you find interesting Jeff?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/08 at 04:44 PM

“Finally-Biologists” ??!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/08 at 04:45 PM

Guess we know where some of the fee increases will go, to fund the newly created positions and department of community outreach. Why does the phrase community Outreach have me picturing funds only benefiting inner city Chicago children learning how to fish, along with Chicago suburbia children (where I reside) whose parents are bunny/tree huggers? Just how should the DNR mission be relevant to legislators? All legislators, or only the ones whose relatives and big money constituents are outfitters?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/08 at 05:43 PM

tim, do you think i have a shot at being the director of the community outreach department?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/08 at 06:52 PM

“Considering ways to deliver better public recreational access on private lands (there have been some great ideas here from staff and we?re still working on details”

Hope they can come up with something on this. Illinois ranks 44th out of the states in terms of public land.

Posted by illin on 01/09 at 09:08 AM

Maybe IF the Democrats would go ahead with the park entry fees, like they have been talking about, & make EVERYONE help pay for improvements to out IDNR, we might really see some more improvements. BUT with the both the primaries & the elections coming up, the democrats are not going to risk pissing off to many voters.
SOOOO…. hunter & fishermen get to pay for a even bigger piece of the IDNR. AND most of the money will be spent in Springfield & Chicago.
Hunting outdoorsmen paying for a HUGE percentage of the increased fees, BUT what will the hunters see of our money ???????
I did not hear a word about hiring back any more CPO. or funding.
Will a turkey biologist be hired ?????
Since deerhunters are taking the BIGGEST increases, by far, what will we see in improvements to our side of things ???????
MORE deer taskforce ( with mostly politicians & FB people on them ?????
MORE antlerless seasons, antlerless permits & less deer for the years to come ???????

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/10 at 10:40 AM
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