The state’s natural areas will get some new help with protection and conservation thanks to legislation sponsored by State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and signed into law by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
“Many great non-profit organizations do tremendous work to help preserve natural areas for future generations,” said Barickman. “This will allow the state to partner with these organizations to fulfill a joint mission of effective conservation.”
Sen. Barickman’s Senate Bill 1029 creates the Natural Areas Stewardship Act to allow non-profit land conservation organizations to apply for state grants to assist with stewardship programs to protect natural area. The grants would be drawn from the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund and could only be used on qualifying lands.
Priority would be given to the needs and priorities identified in the Illinois Natural Area Plan, the Illinois Sustainable Natural Areas Vision, and the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.
“These conservation groups typically rely on a solid core of volunteers and their own fund-raising, which will help increase the effectiveness and reach of our state dollars toward conservation and stewardship,” said Barickman. “This is a win-win for our government and our natural environment.”
Senate Bill 1029 was an initiative of the Illinois Environmental Council.
“Open space provides real environmental and economic benefits to Illinois’ residents and should remain a consistent priority among decision makers,” said Jennifer Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “Conservation Land Trusts are experienced in managing natural areas, and therefore make an ideal partner for a public-private partnership designed to promote stewardship of natural areas.”