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A blueprint to save the DNR

January 15, 2009 at 04:07 PM

Illinois hunting and fishing

Healing the IDNR

Brent Manning has more than 25 years experience working with natural resources in Illinois. Currently the executive director of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Manning spent 12 years running the Department of Natural Resources (and the Illinois Department of Conservation) and from 1985-91 was director of field operations for Ducks Unlimited.

Here are Manning’s top 10 priorities for the new director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

1. Meet with all employees and guarantee that IDNR will once again be a professionally managed agency. It will take time and energy but can be done, I did it.
2. Develop renewed trust and relationships with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, DU, NWTF, PF and QF, QU, IFOR, BASS, UBI, IBS, IFTA, etc, etc ,etc, swing the doors wide open.
3. Establish a new Conservation Congress.
4. Ask the Governor to reconstitute the Natural Resources Advisory Board, require and routinize monthly meetings at locations throughout Illinois.
5. Re-establish a strong and professional relationship with the Illinois General Assembly.
6. Immediately open communication with the USFWS to clarify all federal fund use and availability, work toward solving the “diversion” issue.
7. Hire or promote professional staff into key positions and remove dead wood.
8. Establish and maintain a vision, goals and objectives ... nothing is impossible.
9. Work daily with the Governor General Assembly, and constituents to develop a Commission form of governance for IDNR and dedicated funding.
10. Re-establish a relationship with the outdoor media, as they are the best conduit to the public.

 

Sportsmen and sportswomen of the state of Illinois have a window of opportunity that may enable us to change the way Illinois Department of Natural Resources is governed. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has been a long time advocate and friend of natural resources. With his leadership, making significant changes may be possible.


First of all, the idea of an alternative form of natural resources governance and funding has been discussed at many levels, for many years. I first talked about it with a friend and member of the Missouri Conservation Commission over 30 years ago. He had been one of the folks involved in the legislative development of the 1/8 of one per cent sales tax they now enjoy. The idea also surfaced several times during Conservation Congress. It was and always will be a great idea for Illinois and I am sure was discussed many years before I heard of it. The law and effort in Missouri forming a Commission is brilliant in its simplicity. It states:

Chapter l-Wildlife Code: Organization
 
Division 10—Conservation Commission
Chapter l-Wildlife Code: Organization
3 CSR 10-1.010 Organization and Methods
of Operation
 
PURPOSE: State departments are required by sections 536.023(3) and 252.002, RSMo to provide descriptions of their organizations. This rule describes the internal organization of the Department of Conservation, the methods of operation of the Conservation Commission and procedures for receiving information and requests from the public.
(1) The head of the Department of Conservation is a four (4)-member commission appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The commission is charged with the control, management, restoration, conservation and regulation of the bird, fish, game. forestry and all wildlife resources of the state.
(2) The commission appoints a director who serves as the administrative officer of the Department of Conservation. The director appoints other employees.



To fix something that is broken you first have to understand how it works. The IDNR is a very complex agency and has a very complex budget that is an assimilation of dedicated, federal and state funds. In fact the agency has well over 20 special funds (plus General Revenue Funds) that are appropriated for legislatively designated purposes. These purposes range from the OSLAD (Open Space Land Acquisition and Development) fund, bikeway, habitat stamp, waterfowl stamp, and fish and wildlife funds etc etc. All are legislatively designed to be used for specific purposes.

 
Part of the problem that needs to be fixed is that Gov. Blagojevich has asked for the authority to “sweep” funds that are designated for fish and wildlife purposes and the General Assembly has allowed it to happen. Recently there was as much as $13-$14 million dollars in the Fish and Wildlife fund that legally could be used for biologists, law enforcement officers or to manage state parks or fish and wildlife areas as long as the use met specific criteria. Unfortunately the administration did not appropriate the funds. (NOTE: The Fish and Wildlife Fund is a combination of license proceeds and federal excise tax monies). It’s a shame to have to lay off agency professionals when money is available to keep them employed.

Illinois is now in “diversion” a term that describes the mis-use of federal funds in a fashion not legally authorized. It is very costly to the constituents in that it puts a hold on all federal funding sources that may be available until the problem is fixed.


Another issue that needs to be understood is that IDNR is a far better mode of operation for Illinois than the IDOC. The IDNR brought together coal interests, and water interests and scientific research in a manner that was not duplicated anywhere else in the U.S. Through the relationships that grew out of the merger many, many acres that may not have been available for outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing,  were purchased by the state of Illinois. In fact, almost all, if not all, of the acres purchased for recreation included hunting and fishing. These efforts involved reclaimed coal areas in southern Illinois, including Pyramid State Park, the World Shooting Complex and many others. The additional acres at Pyramid, the largest IDNR holding in Illinois, were acquired through the Open Lands Trust brought about by George Ryan ... not by the current administration, even though several of its members like to dress up and play cowboy at the shoots.

The Office of Water Resources brought a rewarding relationship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which helped IDNR develop wetlands, wetland banking, and voluntary private property watershed treatment. The relationship also opened up streams for recreational pursuits. There are over 60 surface water laws in the state of Illinois and Gov. Edgar, in his wisdom, understood, that if any changes were going to be made for the recreational advantage of the people of Illinois that waterways and the vast holdings of the coal companies had to be part of the equation.


IDNR needs to be governed by a Commission who has its lone charge to “do what’s right.” It needs a professional director. I would support Jeff VerSteeg, Jerry Beverlin or Kirby Cottrell as potentials because of their abilities and significant respect they each have garnered nationally and internationally. Deer are not all we deal with. Migratory waterfowl, upland game, threatened and endangered species all require expertise. I would also support Marc Miller from the Lt. Governor’s office in that he has a biological background and experience in Illinois government. There are others. The list is long including a number of out-of-state candidates who would only be interested if the proper changes were to occur. Illinois needs to once again rise and be a national leader in Fish and Wildlife.


How do you do it? First there must be a coalition formed among constituency groups, meaning all constituency groups. Conservation Congress is a great example and from that coalition a few spokespeople need to be delegated to talk with the administration. Please understand that I did not suggest a tax increase to fund the Commission, I would suggest a permanent earmark of existing funds that would rise and fall with the economy but at least establish a legitimate base line from which the IDNR could plan and operate. There will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth by some legislators because limiting their hold on the purse strings would diminish the power to provide pork!


When I first suggested Conservation Congress I was called into a legislator’s office and basically scolded. The legislator said, “I am suppose to represent my constiuents in all issues facing Illinois including Natural Resources.” My response was “exactly.” To this day I am not sure he is totally aware of my meaning.


There will also be a tearful cry from some special interest groups that feel they have a lock on the legislative system and IDNR governance in its existing form. Those folks are fairly easy to recognize, they will have paid lobbyists, a presence in Springfield, or northeastern Illinois organizations that like “politics as usual.”


I would also suggest asking the administration to support the innovative use of existing funds.


For instance, Illinois IDNR sells roughly 20,000 out-of-state deer permits. That being the case, as with most numbers the participation will stabilize after several years of operation. For the sake of argument, let’s say it stabilizes at 17,000 per year at $400 per permit. That is $6,800,000. Let’s put back $800,000 for operations, keeping the permit office up and running and re-establishing firearm deer check stations. Then lets allocate Field Ops (Law Enforcement, Biologists and Lands) $1 million annually. That still leaves $5 million annually to use for fee-simple acquisition, for resident recreation, fee-simple aquisition or a resident access program (deer hunting in this case because of its source).


Another tactic is to consider bonding that money and then have a $50 million (plus or minus) program for resident Illinois hunters. (Bond Counsel would have to tell you exactly what it would yield). When I say a $50 million program, it doesn’t have to be acquisition, it could also be used to develop resident access opportunities with large corporate landowners, agri-business, and individual landowners. We are only limited by our imagination.


There are all sorts of opportunities if we are creative and ingenious enough to develop them.


Another idea is to make the “E-plate” the Illinois license plate for all vehicles. And while that would require reducing the amount given to IDNR for state parks per plate, it would increase the overall revenue by volume. This could literally fund most, if not all state parks in perpetuity.


Why not proffer up a statewide open space and access referendum. With Illinois being 47th or 48th in the amount of publicly owned open space per capita I believe we would have a plurality of support.


There is plenty of money in Illinois to support a vibrant and great IDNR. Our state budget is in excess of $60 billion. That’s more than many Third World countries. Currently the inability to fiscally manage our funds is embarrassing. IDNR’s annual budget is less than two weeks of operation for any one of several large Human Service agencies. In fact it is a rounding error for the larger state agencies and truly a matter of our quality of life! It can be done.


I become very agitated when I hear some wind ag governmental spin doctor say the IDNR was “bloated” and is now more functional. The fact is during my tenure, even when much better funded, I had to stretch to provide Parks and Law Enforcement with the money they needed to operate.


There are truly more solutions than there are problems. In no area should should Illinois be second rate, especially natural resources. We must all put our shoulder to the wheel and get the attention of our legislators. We can do better and change is something to believe in but it has to start with us.


Leadership is the key, you can’t listen to the incessant whining of arm-chair quarterbacks who continually complain but offer no meaniful effort for change. One of my favorite quotes is by Teddy Roosevelt, one of the greatest conservationists who said;

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strongman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because their is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt



 

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

Reminiscent of the good ol days when we had a DNR.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/15 at 07:56 PM

Someone like Jerry Beverlin OR Claudia Emken

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/15 at 09:55 PM

BRENT, YOU ARE THE PERFECT PERSON TO LEAD THE CHARGE FOR A STABLE FUNDING SOURCE FOR THE DNR. YOU HAVE THE RESPECT, THE KNOWLEDGE AND YOU KNOW THE RIGHT BUTTONS TO PUSH.

I’M NOT SUGGESTING YOU TAKE A CUT IN PAY TO MOVE BACK TO THE FAIRGROUNDS BUT AM SUGGESTING THAT THE OUTDOORSMAN OF ILLINOIS HAVE NO STRONG LEADERSHIP. IT SEEMS EVERYONE WANTS TO FIGHT THEIR INDIVIDUAL LITTLE BATTLES WITHOUT GIVING A THOUGHT TO THE BIG PICTURE.

STABLE FUNDING GIVES INDIEPENDENCE AND INDEPENDENCE ALLOWS PROFESSIONALS TO PERFORM THEIR JOBS TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY WITHOUT INERFERENCE.

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I HEARD A DOC PROFESSIONAL SAY “THIS IS THE WAY IT IS BUT DON’T QUOTE ME ON THAT.”

SERIOUSLY, WE NEED A LEADER AND AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS ONE GOAL. NO INSIDE BICKERING, JUST ONE COMMON GOAL. WHEN THAT IS DONE, HEALING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS WOULD BE MUCH EASIER.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/15 at 10:44 PM

Brent I have talked to you and you did an OUTSTANDING job when you where here. Just wanted to say Thanks. We miss you.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/15 at 10:59 PM

WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!

My past issues with Mr Manning have been well documented. Let me say right off the bat that my issues with Brent are not personal. I hope that today he is enjoying great health and much happiness. With that said, here are 2 good reasons why I could not support Brent Manning as DNR director-


1.Brent hired Paul Shelton as our deer biologist. If memory serves me correctly, Paul came from Kentucky, a state with a deer herd at that time that was a complete joke. What qualifications did he have to come to Illinois to inherit the best deer herd in North America? NONE! And what has he done since? Basically he has managed our herd strictly by numbers without any regards to age structure or sex ratios and without regards to the wishes of Illinois resident hunters I might add. I could write a book on this one subject but will leave it with this thought- since Sheltons departure the deer herd in Kentucky has made major strides towards respectability. Since he has taken over in Illinois our herd has started its plunge down the toilet. Dont ever forget who brought this man to Illinois to manage our herd and who gave him free reign for years while he was in charge of DNR - Brent Manning.

 


2.Look at the overall situation with our deer herd and the deer hunting in Illinois on the day Brent started as DNR director and the day he left. It took a major downward turn during his tenure. A major issue became the limiting of nonresident hunters. This issue was/is a cancer that needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later. It was not. Today for all intents and purposes we do not have a limit on nonresident hunters. This single issue has created a host of problems for the DNR in managing the deer herd and with Illinois resident hunters who are finding more and more acreage being leased or saved for nonresidents each year. We need a reasonable limit on nonresidents and we needed back in the Manning regime. It will be all but impossible for that to ever happen now. Brent dropped the ball big time on this one.

 


I am working on an article which I hope to have published soon in several media outlets across the state. This article will go into further detail about these issues. In the meantime I hope that before anyone jumps on the Brent Manning bandwagon, they remember that Brent has already had his chance. We already saw what he can and will do for us. I admit that Brent does bring some unique knowledge and experience but what we need is a fresh start and real change. Someone above mentioned Claudia Emken; she would be an excellent choice to lead the DNR down a new path.

 

In Closing I want to reiterate that my feelings on this subject are not personal towards Mr Manning. I sincerely wish him the best in all that he does and if he does become the next DNR director I hope he addresses some issues that slipped past him last time. I dont think any of us probably realize the poltiical hoops he had to jump through. Thank you


Don Higgins

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 08:55 AM

I’ll second Jerry Beverlin and/or Claudia Emken.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 09:19 AM

Well said Don Higgins!  By the way, huge fan of your book “Hunting Whitetails in the Real World”.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 09:39 AM

I am all for Claudia, her and Dave are real down to earth people.  Claudia’s full attention would be focused on our natural resources. No political manuvering from her.  Just straight forward management.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 09:47 AM

correction- It was brought to my attention that Shelton actually came from Tennessee. Either way, their deer management was pathetic then as well .... as is ours today.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 12:07 PM

Here we go again, thanks a lot Andy for throwing some fact-less negativity out there!  I don’t think Mr. Manning said anything in his article about wanting to come back. In fact he offered up other qualified individuals that he would support.  What I learned from this article is that there is way too much pressure/influence that originates from the political arena for any director to do a good job.  Hopefully we’ll have a new governor soon that will take immediate action to restore credibility in the state of Illinois, and put us back on the right track of proper management of our states deer herd.  It’s easy to be negative, but that of course gets us no where!  Thanks Brent for a good road map, I truly hope someone is listening!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 12:45 PM

I don’t know Don Higgins, nor have I ever met Mr. Manning, what I do know is that the problems in Illinois do not just revolve around the deer herd. In the last 5 years I have seen the ground around me leased to outfitters and I see more and more deer, problem is there are fewer and fewer mature bucks. When all you hunt are antlers eventually all the antlers will be gone.
We don’t need someone from just anywhere to head the DNR, we need a professional biologist/manager who has a handle on deer, waterfowl, upland, shooting, camping, etc. etc.
Again I do not know any of the people mentioned earlier but I think a panel of monkeys could have done a better job running this department than what we have had.

Posted by Terry Watkins on 01/16 at 01:03 PM

I believe Terry Watkins has a point here. A panel of monkeys could have done a better job. Anytime you have a renewable source, like the IL. deer herd, quite frankly, all you have to do is manage the numbers for safety, quality, etc. Incentive programs, controlled permits pertaining to sex, etc., and a dept. that will return the revenue back into the DNR will do the trick. Only a butcher could mess this up. Hey Terry, if you have a doe problem, I’ll come over and pop a few! I love to thin herds out where needed and donate the meat to the missions.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 01:27 PM

Wow, I thought Manning was a good guy. Now you guys make me feel like he should be hung from the gallows next to our governor. I guess because I have only lived here for 12 years that I don’t think Manning is the scoundrel you all make him out to be. Am I wrong in remembering that there was no limit on NR tags when I first moved here in 1996? Then the limit was set based on previous years sale of 12,000? The cap got raised to 20,000 when the farm bureau lobbied heavily for a guaranteed outfitter allocation of 7,500 around 2005, and then they wanted to still have the other 12,000 or so? Has the downturn of deer hunting in IL been due to Brent Manning , or has it been because of TV personalities like Stan Potts, and outdoor writers showing off their 15th buck scoring over 150 harvested from IL? Has it been due to any Tom Dick and Harry with 1 years experience in the woods, and some access to land calling himself an outfitter. Maybe I am off the mark, but I don’t think the blame for the deer decline lays squarely on Manning’s mantle. If someone would like to tell me where to find out more about all of Manning’s errors, I sincerely would like to find out, because I thought he would be a helluva lot better than Sam Flood or the other stooge in waiting who was supposed to take the DNR, Reitz from Sparta, wasn’t that him?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 01:42 PM

This is NOT about who is the DNR Director. It is about a conservation commission and dedicated funding. Without both of those in place, it really won’t matter who runs the DNR or what their credentials are. The system will maintain the status quo.

The Governor and the legislators on the Conservation/Ag Committee have more power than the Director of the DNR. They control the money and the legislation flow. An example of this was some years ago when a particular legislator wanted a ticket dismissed. The Chief of Law Enforcement and the Director refused. The legislator within 2 weeks eliminated the money for 26 CPOs. Wham bam gone.

Throw out all the names of all the good people you want or don’t want. They can’t fix the current system without gaining control over the checkbook (dedicated funding) and without weakening the political interferance (a Commission). This type of a move requires all of us to put aside past history, grudges and self interest long enough to advance a conservation commission and a dedicated funding source. Or we can continue to let the legislators, lobbyists and the Farm Bureau continue to call the shots.

And by the way…...... Manning and I butted heads a bunch but I am behind him 100% on this one.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 03:28 PM

Anyone who thinks that Brent is not “campaigning” to once again be the DNR director is sadly mistaken and I base this idea on a lot more than this single article. If in fact he has no interest in the job, all he has to do is come forward and state such. I will give him credit for laying out some great ideas but he had his chance as DNR director and in the process started our deer herd down a path towards mediocricy when he started with so much more. I will also state for the record that every director since Brent has been significantly worse for our natural resources than he was. Brent did some good things while in command but none of them involved our deer herd. I promise everyone that there is not a person alive on this planet that cares more about the Illinois deer herd than I do and I will call out anyone who mismanages that resource. Even so there are a whole lot of other issues. For example the recent closing of state parks is an unexcusable act. Brent would undoubtedly bring some positive attributes to the directors job but again, he had his chance. This state needs a good house cleaning in the political arena and that includes the DNR directors position.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 06:13 PM

Game, set and match with todays new DNR Director appointment. All the names previously mentioned are now meaningless, no Emken, Beverlin or Manning. Even when the new Governor comes in he will have a very hard time takeing the job away from Director G. Too many friends in the legislature and the guy was in leadership.

Again, the only way this stops is with a Commission and dedicated funding period.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 07:20 PM

Don

Brent has already said he does not want the job. He said it on the record.

As for Granberg, I don’t think he’ll stay in the position after Blago is gone, friends or no friends.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 01/16 at 07:58 PM

Thanks Jeff. I have been hearing things to the contrary and actually saw a “letter” that was distributed around the state to certain people to that effect.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 09:49 PM

Let me clear some things up here. In the past couple of days I have gotten numerous emails on this topic. They range all the way from “You are off base Don, Manning is really a great guy” to “I am with you Don, Manning is terrible”. Here is my position-


I am prinmarily interested in the management of the Illinois deer herd way way more than I am interested in any other natural resource issue. A DNR director has a whole heckuva lot more to deal with than just deer. As a DNR director Brent Manning was without a doubt better than anyone we have had in that position since BUT he also had a better governor to work for than anyone we have had since. Brent did great things as DNR director but in my opinion almost none of them involved our deer herd. In fact in my original post above I outlined 2 big-time mistakes where Brent dropped the ball- hiring Shelton as our deer biologist and not implementing a reasonable nonresident limit when it could have happened. Those 2 issues turned North Americas premiere deer herd in the wrong direction and today we are seeing the results of those bad decisions after they have had a few years to show the effects. In fact the current deer task force recomendations are a result of those bad decisions from years ago. In other words those bad decisions or lack of needed actions are about to lead to more ill-advised actions with detrimental results for our deer herd. My only reason for originally commenting was that in recent weeks I was led to believe by multiple sources that Brent was seeking to once again become director of DNR. That would not totally be a bad thing as he is obviously an intelligent person with some great ideas as outlined in his article above. However, I do not believe that Brent has the same degree of interest for the Illinois deer herd that I and several others have. On the other hand there are probably a thousand other natural resource issues which he cares more about than I do. Again, my main interest is the proper management of Illinois’ deer herd and when things arent going right I am going to scream long and hard about it.

 


I do not care to have an ongoing squabble about Brent Manning or Paul Shelton or anyone else. I sincerely wish Brent the best. I just want our deer herd to once again be properly managed and Illinois residents to be taken care of by the politicians we elect. I honestly dont think that this is asking too much.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 10:22 AM

Don, I am with you on this one.  My only concern as a regular joe deer hunter is the proper management of our precious deer herd.  I honestly have to say I was probably one of the first in my county to have purchased a deer scouting camera way back when.
Since then I have become somewhat Obsessed with this part of deer hunting.  I have keep logs, photo albums, etc, etc. I run up to 12 cameras at a time.  In an area that is not outfitted, very limited leasing and where we have some logical deerhunters whom I would like to say are doing the right thing, we are not seeing the upper end deer that we did see 5 years ago.  We take plenty of does and let our bucks grow.  Every year I cant wait to get cameras out to catch that buck of a lifetime but they just aren’t there.  I attribute this to our states management practices.  This perception is not only based on my thouhgts but by the other hunters that surround me.  Is this exactly what you are seeing and hearing?  I have said all along that I am really concerned about this late season hunt.  Its a horrible management practice.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.  I am glad we have people like you and Tim Walmsley that are voicing their opinions on how a herd is managed. Hope to see you at the Deer classic, I want to get your book in my hands, I have heard its one that once you start reading you cant put down.  By the way, we aren’t asking for too much.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 12:04 PM

One thing ole Brent did was to mess up field trials in IL. Take for example Green River. At one time the IL. Shooting Dog Trial was held there and guys would come from almost every state to run there dogs. Also they had week end trials spring and fall. But the tree huggers along with Manning shut it down to protect the prairie grass. So he had them bulldoze down trees and really messed up 2500 acres.So I don’t have much good to say about Brent Manning

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 02:00 PM

The resources were never better than when Brett Manning was behind the big desk. That includes water , air, mammals, fish, and fowl.  To be tunnel-visioned about one species is also to be short-sighted. I love the deer too, but not at the expense of the other species and habitats.  If the DNR is “killed” by poor managemant no species will thrive, except maybe the scavengers and decomposers…. and probably the political versions of those too. We NEED PROFESSIONALS in natural resource management, wildlife management, and conservation in charge, NOT political hacks. It’s good to see a real PLAN out there!!.... It gives any idea what a PROFESSIONAL can do with some thought.  You will not see a plan of that breadth, probably none at all,  from “Blago’s Boys”.
Would you trust your car or truck to someone who had no clue what it took to fix it?  Oh yeah, they drove a car once… or saw a picture of one a while ago…. so that’s OK. Right?

These Blago cronies and clones may “go”, eventually, but they will get their comfy pensions, and possibly do immeasrueable harm before they go.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 03:37 PM

The DNR is not the Department of Deer Management, that some of you are drooling over.  It is the Department of Natural Resources.  Will a professional deer biologist know what to do with the departments geologic survey, water survey, natural history survey, and waste management divisions?  We need someone that is in touch with all of Illinois’ natural resources, not just deer.  A director needs to manage all the divisions of the DNR and appoint people with proper qualifications to head each of the divisions.  I don’t want someone that is only focused on deer to head the DNR.  As much as I like deer hunting, I like to fish, pheasant hunt, and enjoy nature too.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 08:03 PM

snshunts says - “A director needs to manage all the divisions of the DNR and appoint people with proper qualifications to head each of the divisions”

Exactly! and that includes a QUALIFIED deer biologist so please go back and show me who suggested hiring a deer biologist as head of the DNR? I have read every post and I cant find any such suggestion until I get to your post.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 09:33 PM

Yep, standing up for whats right has its price. Thats the price I paid for standing up to DNR years ago on behalf of our deer herd and all Ilinois deer hunters and I fully expect further harrassment in the future .... not enough to keep me quiet though!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/18 at 08:35 AM

I served over 13 years on the IDNR Advisory Board.  I served under Manning, Brubsvold and Flood.  I resigned because I could not stomach watching Blagoovich and Flood dismantle the IDNR piece by piece.  Manning was by far the superior, Brunsvold just wanted to hunt and Flood has done nothing.  I got to know Brent Manning both professionally and personally.  I consider Brent a good friend.

The IDNR is not a one issue agency.  I hunt deer with both the gun and the bow.  I am not very good at it but I enjoy it.  Deer hunters are passionate people.  So are waterfowlers, pheasant hunters, quail hunters, trappers, field trialers, water folks, park districts, cities, and on and on and on.  If the deer hunters think things aren’t good, just ask the quail hunters.  They have been treated like the red headed step child for over two decades.  Managing the IDNR is a very difficult job when you are given limited funds and all kinds of outside pressures from folks like the Farm Bureau, Legislature, Governor’s office, lobbyists and again on and on and on.  Was Manning perfect?  No.  Did he do more good than bad?  Without question.  Has he been the best Director in my lifetime, both before Manning and after?  In my opinion, without question.

I must have read a different article.  Nowhere did I read that Brent Manning was promoting hinself for the position of Director.  He did recommend three very capable people, Jeff VerSteeg, Jerry Beverlin and Kirby Cottrell.  Why would he recommend other people if he wanted the job?  He has gone on record that he did not want the job.  Sounds to me like there is some sour grapes here.

For those of you who question Brent Manning’s integrity, honestly and associate him with the dirty politics of Illinois, you are way, way off base.  This is a huge stretch.  Again, you must not of got your own way on every issue you wanted.  Clearly, you don’t know him.

The IDNR needs help, guidance, leadership, talent and money.  I ask that instead of criticizing a person who offered possibilities for change to help us get out of this mess, why do you take your energies to a positive effort and help.  We need everybody efforts going forward.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/18 at 09:29 AM

Critizing Brent is not the issue here. Read his Blueprint to save the DNR and concentrate on his suggestions on how to fix the current disaster Illinois Sportsmen have had to deal with for the past six years. The DNR has been dismanteled and needs to be fixed. The key is for all of us to jump on the same bandwagon to help restore some credibility. The Manning blueprint if implemented will go along way to fix the current situation

Our DNR needs to become a Professionally managed Agency. Some of the names mentioned above could provide that kind of Leadership. Professional Managers should be appointed to head each of the agencies within the DNR. No more Political appointments. We need true Professionals.

As a member of Conservation Congress for many years we need that same format again to give the Agency and Constiquent Groups the opportunity in an open quorum to discuss, suggest, recommend and implement ideas and programs that will restore our DNR to a Professional ran Department with goals to enhance, restore and protect all of the Natural Resources of Illinois, not just the deer program. It certainly needs to be fixed but so does many of the other wildlife and resourc programs.
For many years we have recommended that Illinois needs a Commission type DNR similar to Missouri, with dedicated funding so they can operate effectively without interferance from our Legislators and special interest groups. To many of us have tunnel vision. We all need to stop bashing
individuals and do our best to work together for the overall good of Illinois Sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Manning Blueprint will go along way to get Illinois DNR back on track and will if given a chance significantly improve our current situation.

When our next Governor is appointed lets all focus on working together with his office and staff to achieve re-establishing our DNR as a Professinal Agency with Professional Leadership. The Manning Blueprint is a great way to start.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/18 at 10:53 AM

Don, That’s what this whole discussion is about!  You’re hanging Manning out to dry as the head of the DNR because you feel the deer herd suffered during his time as director.  A majority of the posts are talking deer management, deer herd, deer, deer, deer.  I’m sorry Don, but as much of a stink as you’re raising about Manning, and as vocal as you are being about the deer heard, it sounds like YOU are grandstanding for director, not Manning.  By the way, re-read my previous post: “A director needs to manage all the divisions of the DNR and appoint people with proper qualifications to head each of the divisions.”  We’re on the same page as far as professional management, but like I said I don’t want to see the DNR turn into the department of deer management.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/18 at 11:40 AM

Don,

I have great respect for your passion and knowledge, let’s the two of us meet over breakfast, lunch or dinner(I’ll buy) to try and strategize how to improve the IDNR and understand the potential hurdles we may face.

As many have said I am not seeking reinstatement as IDNR Director, my only interest is improving the resource we have both grown to love.

Brad Brown, I will be initiating contact with you as well.

As leaders the two of you are important to Illinois in making the needed changes.

I am not one to blog or respond. In fact I feel communication is far better in person. I will reach out in the next week.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/18 at 03:51 PM

Brent,
I am all for it. I do not have any contact info for you or even have any idea where you live to call directory assistance for your number. If you have my contact info please feel free to contact me and we can set something up as soon as possible. As for buying, we can flip a coin or I will even have you to my house for supper if that works better. All I want is to get this deer herd headed in the right direction again and I know that all of us working together on a united front is the way to do it.

By the way, thank you for the offer. I look forward to it.

Don

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/18 at 05:31 PM

“Colonel Sanders” I think has all the right ideas! We don’t need a DNR….we need a conservation commission out of the hands of ‘politics’!

Scarne….shame on you for the ‘cheap shot’!

Wildlife Conservation and sportsmen are 2 very important issues in Illinois Outdoors to many…resident and non-resident alike!

Lands, mines and minerals are or should be totaly seperated from Wildlife and Sportsmen….unless it pertains to hunting and fishing for the public!

Don Higgins knows what has been and is going on in the outdoors of Illinois. He knows wildlife and population, both in quantity and especially in Quality! Quality is a very important balance to many of us. This is something we are loosing…and it has been going on for several years now. Many of us ‘old guys’ were proud of The Illinois Dept. of Conservation (back then) and proud of our deer herd in Illinois. We watched it grow and contributed to it’s ‘stocking’ and ‘development’ thru the early years. All of us then did it for “The Future”....those that follow thru time…..to enjoy and relish in the maturity of Illinois Whitetail Deer. But NOW….it has taken a down hill slide and it needs SAVED! Politics has all but ruined Illinois Deer in quantity and most of all Quality!  A game department needs to be out of the hands of politics and money and profit and general funding! These monies need to stay within the dept. ONLY!

We need a Conservation Commission for The Sportsmen of Illinois….for ALL that ‘play here in Illinois’.
Only then will Illinois Sportsmen have a say so in what and when and how things happen. Right now….we have No Voice!....just my $.02 cents.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/18 at 09:06 PM

Call it what you will, but the “Illinois Conservation Commission Initiative” is an idea whose time has come.  The current mis-management of the IDNR at the hands of the State’s politicians is just a reminder of how bad things can get when you have unethetical leaders with absolute power.  In order for the “Conservation Initiative” to have a chance to succeed, it is imperative that we, as concerned Illinois sportsmen and sportswomen, to quit fighting amongst ourselves and get behind and support someone with a plan.  Brent Manning has outlined a plan to rescue the failing IDNR, which is a step in the right direction.  It is absolutely necessary that the agency in charge and responsible for the management of the natural resources of this State be able to do so without being unduly influenced by special interests groups, including crooked politicians, insurance lobbyists and golf course developers.  I know and respect both Brent Manning and Don Higgins.  They are more alike than different; both are passionate about Illinois’ outdoors heritage;  both are willing to give 110 percent to see something done right; both are willing to “sound off” when something is wrong and they know it.  If these two men can put aside their differences for the common good of the natural resources of the State of Illinois, then I say, there still is hope for saving the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/19 at 08:07 PM

The IDNR is in need of support—-support from the people and sportsman alike. There is a legislative sportsmen caucus but where were they when the “sweep” occurred. All those concerned need to contact their legislatures and express their feelings.
Brent Manning is one of the most respected individuals in the conservation field. His interest in IDNR is not one of self-serving by his suggestion of Beverlin, VerSteeg, and Cottrell as capable leaders. His dedication to IL and the Department of Natural Resources is unquestionable and therefore the suggested roadmap is a sign of helpful assistance by a knowledgeable individual.
Support for the IDNR from everyone concerned is of utmost priority at this time.
Terry Fuchs

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/20 at 07:21 PM

To give people some encouragement that this “Conservation Commission Initiative” can do some good and is feasible, just look at what Minnesota accomplished with their DNR and its funding in the November election.  The citizens of Minnesota passed a Constitutional Amendment to give their DNR designated funding from their State Sales Tax.  That started as a simple citizen’s initiative that grew via the Internet into a massive “Minnesota First Initiative” that was well received by millions of sportsmen throughout the State.  It can be done here in Illinois too, provided we all work together to get it done! Some really smart person once said that if you aren’t working to solve the problem, chances are, you are part of the problem.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/21 at 08:48 PM

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