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E-M:/ Fw: Save Illinois's vanishing natural areas



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Enviro-Mich message from "Sandy Nordmark" <earthwoman@core.com>
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Re state expenditures for open spaces, anybody out there know how Michigan stacks up?


----- Original Message ----- From: "Rebecca D. Stanfield, Environment Illinois State Director" <RebeccaS@environmentillinois.org>
To: <earthwoman@core.com>
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 2:57 PM
Subject: Save Illinois's vanishing natural areas



Hi Sandy,

Illinois's natural areas are once again on the chopping block.

Early this summer, with your help, we sent 3000 emails to legislators urging them to support a non-binding resolution for a program to acquire and conserve Illinois's vanishing natural areas. And we won! The Illinois Senate adopted the measure on May 30th, followed unanimously by the House in June.

But now, when the rubber meets the road, legislators aren't following through. Funding for a natural areas program isn't even mentioned in the capital budgets currently under consideration in the legislature.

Meanwhile, Illinois still ranks last in the Midwest and in the bottom 5 nationally for acres of recreation and conservation lands per capita, and Illinois has lost 99 percent of its native prairie and 90 percent of its wetlands.

If we don't protect our natural areas, we will lose them forever. Please help us by emailing your legislators and urging them to support Illinois's iSPACE program.

To help, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser:

https://www.environmentillinois.org/action/preservation/ispace?id4=ES

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Open lands are crucial for clean water, species diversity, recreation, hunting, and healthy lifestyles, but Illinois has consistently neglected them. Our state has lost more than 90 percent of its wetlands and 99.99 percent of its original prairie. Nearly 450 threatened and endangered species live within state boundaries. With less than four percent of Illinois's land publicly owned for recreation or conservation, we rank in 48th out of 50 states nationally in open space per capita.

Illinois needs to build parks and acquire and maintain ecologically sensitive lands before the cost becomes prohibitive or the opportunities disappear. Real estate prices in Illinois's rural farmland rose 68 percent from 2000 to 2006. Acting now is especially important in the collar counties, which are among the nation's fastest growing counties.

When it comes to protecting natural areas, why does our state rank among the worst? The answer is that we simply spend far less other states to fix the problem. During our peak year of investment, Illinois spent $2.67 per resident annually on open spaces. In contrast, Ohio spent $4.36, Minnesota spent $5.76 and Wisconsin spent $9.80.

Illinois needs an additional 1.7 million acres of grasslands, wetlands and woodlands along with an additional 83,000 acres of park space to catch up with the rest of the Midwest in the amount of open space per capita.

The Illinois Special Places Acquisition, Conservation, and Enhancement Program (iSPACE) program would be a down payment on these needs. It would allocate roughly $753 million in the next capital budget to allow the state to create new parks and conservation areas, provide matching fund to projects sponsored by local open space agencies, and fund habitat restoration to maximize the value of land already in public ownership.

This session, we helped pass a resolution calling for the next capital budget to include funding for the iSPACE program. The resolution passed both the House and Senate unanimously and served as a powerful statement of the legislature's intent to use a fraction of any capital budget to protect Illinois open spaces for future generations.

Now we need to ensure our legislators follow through on this intent, because if we don't protect our natural areas, we will lose them forever. Please help us by emailing your legislator and urging them to support Illinois's iSPACE program.

To help, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser:

https://www.environmentillinois.org/action/preservation/ispace?id4=ES


Sincerely,


Rebecca D. Stanfield
Environment Illinois State Director
RebeccaS@environmentillinois.org
http://www.environmentillinois.org

P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.

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