Board statement on Social Justice

June 5, 2020

A LETTER FROM THE BOARD

Prairie State Conservation Coalition mourns the recent losses of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, David McAtee, Tony McDade and many others across this country. We recognize the many connections with environmentalism and social justice issues and understand that environmental justice is inextricably linked to civil rights for all People of Color.

Prairie State Conservation Coalition works to increase accessibility to nature and outdoor recreation by providing online resources and amplifying the efforts of conservation land trusts across the state of Illinois who are doing the same.

PSCC stands with our communities across the state against racism and oppression of any kind, and condemns bigotry, racism, and violence against people of color. We understand that the environmental field is currently and has historically been a predominately white profession and we will work together, partnering with our diverse communities where we work, speaking out, addressing and advocating for environmental equity and justice across the state and in our communities.

We know we can do more to reflect the communities we serve. We acknowledge that Illinois is geographically and demographically diverse and that individual land trusts must be sensitive and responsive to that diversity. We are made more whole by fully reflecting and engaging the depth and breadth of the populations we serve.

Our mission is committed to enhancing our quality of life for everyone. Nature Nurtures: Our individual physical, intellectual and spiritual well-being is dependent upon safe access to and engagement with beautiful, natural spaces.

We believe that nature is good for the soul, and that everyone is entitled to experience the outdoors.

We value and support the work of @outdoorafro @latinooutdoors @blackpeoplewhohike and Conservationists of Color

Prairie State Conservation Coalition Board of Directors

Jim Herkert                                    Christie Trifone-Simon
Illinois Audubon Society                Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation

Dan Lobbes                                   Dave Easter
The Conservation Foundation       Grand Prairie Friends

Joann Fricke                                  Deanna Glosser
Clifftop                                            Land Conservation Foundation

Tharran Hobson                             Dave King
The Nature Conservancy               Prairie Land Conservancy

Kerry Leigh                                     Susan Lenz
Natural Land Institute                     Barrington Area Conservation Trust

Ryan London                                  Mary Vandevord
Lake Forest Open Lands                Heartlands Conservancy

Lisa Woolford
Integrated Lakes Management

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PSCC teams with state realtors for healthier land

Prairie State Conservation Coalition is partnering with Illinois Realtors to help educate and promote awareness of conservation opportunities for healthier land, and, of course, healthier people.

Incoming president Dan Wagner, a trustee with The Conservation Foundation, outlines the proposal he will cultivate as he moves into his new role leading the state’s real estate industry.


“Under all is the land.”

These are the first five words to the Preamble of the Realtor Code of Ethics. When you boil it down, the essence of our commercial and residential real estate industry is all about the land.  Illinois Realtors recognizes this fact and is going to take this next year to partner with the Prairie State Conservation Coalition to increase the health of our land and our people.

What is the Prairie State Conservation Coalition? It is a statewide non-profit organization created to assist conservation land organizations as they work with landowners and communities to protect land and water resources in Illinois. Illinois Realtors and the Prairie State Conservation Coalition will facilitate the education and collaboration efforts between the local Realtor Associations and local land conservation organizations.

Realtors and Land Conservation Leaders will be working to:

♦ Promote awareness of voluntary conservation easements and how they relate to private property rights

Conservation Easements are a great way for private landowners to voluntarily preserve natural resources with no requirement for public access. The easement limits the type and amount of development which can occur on a property. The property owner may qualify for income tax deductions for the value of the easement because they are giving up the ability to develop part or all of the land they own. They can take this deduction for up to 16 years.  In some cases, property taxes can be reduced by up to 75 percent. And, there are cases where an easement could reduce the amount of estate tax that is owed. There are approximately 1,700 conservation easements in Illinois encompassing more than 235,000 acres. Many of them preserve natural areas, but there are plenty that preserve working lands (such as farms), too.

♦ Enhance the Quality of Life in our communities through conservation projects

Our local Realtor Associations and our local conservation leaders are already very involved with beautifying their communities through a multitude of projects. Illinois Realtor will help identify National Association of Realtor grant money to assist with refurbishing park areas, downtown thoroughfares and a multitude of other projects that can be implemented through these collaborations.

♦ Educate clients on the importance and benefits of land conservation at work

Developers will tell you how important storm water management is to a project.  Working in conjunction with land conservation leaders, money can be saved on storm water detention ponds by having native perennial plant buffers installed to reduce silt buildup instead of expensive rip rap or steel walls. These plantings have extensive root systems, which means once they are established, these plants don’t require watering and frequent mowing, thereby reducing the costs for maintenance. These plantings also deter Canada Geese because the birds avoid taller vegetation where they cannot easily spot predators. There are also innovative ways to create parking lots with permeable pavement and natural plantings which assist with storm water management. Besides serving an important storm water function, native buffers, rain gardens and other landscaping can look pretty and attract birds and butterflies.

♦ Educate clients on the importance and benefits of land conservation at home

It is a fact that people pay more to buy and rent homes when the properties are located near parks and forest preserves. Natural plantings enhance property values and conservation leaders can assist you in making selections that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and birds. They can also offer advice on using native plants to turn “problem” wet areas in your yard into beautiful rain gardens.

♦ Clean Rivers and Streams

There are very active Realtor Young Professional Network members throughout the state and they are being asked to partner with their local land conservation organization to join the already established river and stream clean ups in their communities.

♦ Engage Under-Served Communities with an emphasis of land conservation benefits

The benefits of land conservation is especially needed in under-served communities.  Collaborating with our local Realtors and conservation leaders to identify abandoned weed invested lots and transforming them with natural plantings increases the pride and value in a neighborhood. Connecting Realtor groups with already existing conservation programs that encourage children to not only be educated about nature but to have experiences of going into nature as well.

♦ Nature RX

Our computer and cell phone screens connect us with work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The lives of many of our Realtor members and clients are increasingly stressful as a result.  So, as an association we want to promote to our members the value of getting out in nature. The act of going for a walk in the forest is nothing new, but there have been recent scientific studies showing a multitude of health benefits from outdoor activity including stress reduction and increased personal satisfaction.

Illinois Realtors is looking forward partnering with the Prairie State Conservation Coalition because we all know land is everything for our real estate industry and it is our duty to be the very best stewards we can of this amazing resource!

If you have any questions or if something you read sparked an idea, please feel free to call Dan at (630) 218-4953.

Laws change; people die; the land remains.

– Abraham Lincoln

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Collaborative Leadership program in October

One-day leadership development opportunity

Whether you are a director or a manager, if you work collaboratively – in a partnership, collaboration, coalition, network, alliance, or even across departments within your organization – you know well the opportunities and challenges of working together effectively.

Here’s a great opportunity to help you accomplish your goals. Join with a small group of environmental and conservation leaders for a highly interactive learning opportunity to build your leadership skills.

You will walk away with new insights, tools, and approaches to apply directly to your work, as well as with new peer relationships to fuel your ongoing learning and success.

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, JUNE 29! REGISTER NOW!

Collaborative Leadership

Strengthen Your Ability to Lead and Collaborate

A One-Day Leadership Development Opportunity

WHEN: 4 p.m. Monday, October 22 through 4 p.m. Tuesday, October 23

WHERE: Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Center in Woodstock, IL (60 miles northwest of Chicago, 40 miles from O’Hare International Airport)

WHO: This training is for all staff and volunteer leaders who work in a collaborative setting, whether it is through nonprofits, businesses, the government, or across multiple sectors. It may be especially attractive for key staff who support community engagement or advocacy efforts, and for new or emerging leaders.

COST: $350 Early Bird Registration (apply by June 29), $500 Regular Registration (apply by July 20

Cost includes overnight accommodations for the night of Monday, October 22, meals and snacks, materials, and facilitated instruction to help you strengthen your collaborative leadership skills. 

REGISTER: To register and for more info, visit the Collaborative Leadership registration page here.

Please note that you will be invoiced for the registration total after completing the form. Registration is not guaranteed until payment is received. Also, registration is first come, first served – limited to only 25 leaders, so act fast!

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Natural Areas Stewardship Act signed by governor

On Friday, August 25, Governor Rauner signed into law the Natural Areas Stewardship Act, which received unanimous support in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly.

This act will better protect the last remaining fragments of Illinois’ wildlife and natural landscapes by allowing nonprofit conservation organizations to conduct needed stewardship and restoration projects on lands enrolled in the Illinois Nature Preserve System. The Illinois Nature Preserves are living museums, home to tallgrass prairie, oak savannas, sandstone bluffs, ravine ecosystems, and hundreds of rare wildlife species.

Prairie State Conservation Coalition, along with our partners at Illinois Environmental Council, Openlands, The Nature Conservancy, Illinois Chapter, and the Prairie State Conservation Coalition led the effort to pass this vital support for conservation.

By applying for existing state funds, conservation land trusts can assist local and state agencies in caring for the 600+ Illinois Nature Preserve sites that provide habitat to 20% of Illinois conservation priority species. Openlands sincerely thanks Representative Tom Bennett (R-106) and Senator Jason Barickman (R-53) for their leadership in passing this agreement, the Governor for supporting conservation in Illinois, as well as our many members who contacted their elected leaders in support of this bill.

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February webinars on stewardship, fundraising

email_letterhead_small_3Mary Burke from the Land Trust Alliance wants to remind everyone there are several informative webinars slated for February. Sign up now and learn some new skills and techniques specific to land trusts!

And, thanks to the generous funding of Alliance donors, we also have this complimentary webinar:

Note: If you are an all-access pass holder, you still need to register for the webinar.

<< Check out our full lineup of 2016 webinars and register  >>

Alliance webinars are the easiest way to learn:

  • Webinars are taught by the best conservation experts
  • Cost is just $60 ($70 day before) thanks to generous funding by Alliance donors
  • All-access pass for all webinars and recordings for just $485 (regularly $1,260!)
  • Held at the same time of day: 2 p.m. ET | 1 p.m. CT | 12 p.m. MT | 11 a.m. PT
  • As many people as you’d like can join in from your location

No matter where your land trust is today, 2016 is a new year with new land conservation opportunities — so don’t miss these resources we’ve developed exclusively for your team to grow and strengthen your land trust’s impact.

See you online!

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Openlands receives National Land Trust Excellence Award

LandTrustSymbolOpenlands received a National Land Trust Excellence Award for its many accomplishments over the years at the Land Trust Alliance annual conference in October.

“We find inspiration in the good works of our peers in land conservation,” said Rand Wentworth, Alliance president. “And the inspiration we find in these award winners gives us renewed motivation and purpose.”

Honorees recognized at Rally 2015: The National Land Conservation Conference include:

  • Steve Small, a leading authority on private land protection, with the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award & Fellowship. As the originating author of the federal Income Tax Regulations on Conservation Easements, Small set a national standard for donations he continues to facilitate to this day.
  • Kent Land Trust of Kent, Conn., with a National Land Trust Excellence Award. By collaborating with local supporters, Kent Land Trust helped make land conservation a community priority. Its crowning achievement was the timely preservation of Camp Francis, a decommissioned Girl Scouts campground.
  • Openlands of Chicago, Ill., with a National Land Trust Excellence Award. For its collective accomplishments across more than 50 years — including creating the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and transforming public school play yards — Openlands exemplifies how land trusts benefit their communities.
  • Alicia Reban, Nevada Land Trust’s co-executive director, with the Ambassador Award. Through her extraordinary work in political advocacy in her state and within the halls of Congress, Reban has tirelessly advanced efforts to make permanent an enhanced federal incentive for conservation easement donations.

Awards to Small, Kent Land Trust and Openlands were bestowed Oct. 8 during a welcoming dinner. Reban received her award Oct. 9 at the opening session of Rally 2015, the nation’s premier gathering for conservation leadership and training. For more information about Rally 2015, visit www.lta.org/rally.

In conjunction with his award, Small was named to serve in the Kingsbury Browne Fellowship at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy for 2015-2016. For the fellowship, Small will engage in research, writing and mentoring with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a think tank focusing on land policy that’s based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The fellowship and award are named after the land conservationist who inspired the Alliance’s founding.

The Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization working to save the places people love by strengthening land conservation across America.

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New Conservation Land Trust Handbook Available

PSCC’s Conservation Land Trust Handbook (link below).  Most of you have contributed to this effort – thank you.  PSCC is working to increase the visibility of the work of non-profit conservation land trusts in Illinois, and we think the Handbook helps to illustrate our impact.  It’s a work in progress, but we hope it will be useful tool, whether it helps you connect with fellow land trusts or serves in a meeting with local legislators.

PSCC Handbook v1.0

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PSCC Receives Transformational Grant!

Exciting news!  PSCC has been awarded a $48,000 grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to help complete I-View.  Please see the press release link below.  We anticipate that I-View will open the door to more collaboration and focus towards achieving important statewide conservation goals.

Press Release ICECF

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