Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Blagojevich Hurting the Environment

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, whose administration is under federal investigation, is certainly no friend to anyone outside of Chicago, this has included Agriculture where he has made devestating cuts over the last few years. His latest target is now the environment. Blagojevich has cut $14 million from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

These cuts will eliminate an additional 162 positions for an agency that is already down 25% from its numbers in 2002. Now a coalition of environmental and conservation groups are taking him to task having identified some of the impacts:

*The agency’s ability to implement the Illinois State Wildlife Action Plan, a blueprint for protecting vanishing natural resources and keeping plants, animals, birds, fish and other organisms from becoming endangered.

*Loss of funds for the Water Supply Planning Initiative that is studying Illinois’ water resources – both surface and underground.

*DNR having enough staff to manage state parks and natural areas.

*Falling numbers of Conservation Police Officers. Eric Poertner of the Policemen’s Benevolent & Protection Association said 24 positions remain unfilled, leaving 133 officers to police about 470,000 state-owned acres, 720,000 licensed anglers and 317,000 licensed hunters. A dozen others are slated to retire soon. In 2000, 170 officers were on the job.

*The future of the Illinois State Museum system that is not supported by fees paid by hunters and anglers.

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