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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

NWTF supports DNR budget

May 28, 2009 at 08:15 AM

As the budget talks in Springfield near an end, some conservation groups are rallying behind Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget proposals for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

A cynic might point out that of course conservation groups are rallying behind the budget, since more money for the DNR will likely mean more money for them.

But I think there are some good points made in the following letter from Kent Adams, the National Wild Turkey Federation’s regional biologist for Illinois. Specifically this one:

At first glance, the proposed 25 percent cut from last year’s general revenue fund budget may look reasonable during hard economic times. However, such a reduction must be viewed in the context of the last six years in which the DNR experienced more than its fair share of cuts compared to other state agencies. The proposed cuts would leave the DNR at half their general revenue funding level of 2001.

Here’s the full text of the letter.

NWTF letter supporting DNR budget

Dear NWTF Members:

As the current legislative session comes to a close, Illinois sportsmen and women must once again make their voices heard in Springfield. Legislators need to hear from you that cutting the proposed budget for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would spell disaster for an already ailing agency.

At first glance, the proposed 25 percent cut from last year’s general revenue fund budget may look reasonable during hard economic times. However, such a reduction must be viewed in the context of the last six years in which the DNR experienced more than its fair share of cuts compared to other state agencies. The proposed cuts would leave the DNR at half their general revenue funding level of 2001.

Further cuts would require even more staff layoffs, program reductions and facility closings. Some of the more alarming losses from a long list of negative impacts include reducing or eliminating hunter education program, complete loss of forestry assistance and state nursery seedling production, state park closings, and reducing the already depleted Conservation Police staff.

Tell legislators that our natural resources already have paid a hefty price to solve the state’s budget problems. Enough is enough.

Beyond general revenue funding, some new user fees and fee increases for certain licenses and permits have been proposed. The new user fees are mostly targeted toward funding the staff and maintenance of state parks and other state sites. These fees will help capture funding from non hunter/angler recreational users. The proposed license and permit fee increases that will affect hunters directly are modest adjustments, considering they have not been raised since the 1970s. Hunters and anglers have a long history of willingly paying the way for conservation, and these increases will help rebuild the agency responsible for managing our state’s natural resources. The new DNR leadership has vowed to protect these funds for their dedicated purpose. First in line is filling the turkey and upland game biologist positions left vacant by retirement.

Tell your legislators you support modest fee increases to fund conservation, and that sweeping these dedicated funds to balance the state budget (as the previous administration was prone to do) is illegal and unacceptable.

Find contact information for your local legislators at the following link. http://www.elections.il.gov/DistrictLocator/SelectSearchType.aspx?NavLink=1

Kent Adams
NWTF Regional Biologist for Illinois

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