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


A message from PSCC President John Sentell…

We are reaching out with urgent concern regarding the advancement of HB5293 in the Illinois House. You may recall that Jen Walling, our colleague at IEC, discussed at the PSCC Annual Meeting how this bill is a serious threat to wildlife, and the legislation had the risk of building momentum in the Illinois legislature. Unfortunately, this bill is moving quickly and the threat of passage is high.

For those of you who may not be aware of the news, HB5293 is a bill being advanced that will remove the requirement for a state permit for incidental takings of federal endangered species (effectively tying us to any federal wildlife rollbacks) and will also add 2 members of the Farm Bureau as permanent seats on the Endangered Species Protection Board. The Farm Bureau has a publicly stated interest in stopping the monarch butterfly from becoming listed, which is likely the impetus behind this.

HB5293 has been moved to third reading in the House. This means that this bill could be called as early as next Tuesday.  It is HIGHLY likely that this bill will pass the House. The roll call is negative from our standpoint, and so we need your help now.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Contact legislators that represent you or your conservation area ASAP.
  2. Send Jennifer Walling, and your legislators, official science-based letters from your organization providing information on your opposition and why this is so bad.
  3. Send out an action alert to your board and members.
  4. Share on social media.

In addition, if you have any expert knowledge on this bill that you can share with Jen Walling, please do so immediately.  She needs our help.

Attached is a HB5293 fact sheet that is very helpful. PSCC will keep you informed as we hear information. DOWNLOAD THE FACT SHEET HERE.

We know that the voice of PSCC and its member base is powerful. Please do what you can to help put the brakes on HB5293.




2017 Year In Review

David Holman’s comprehensive 2017 Year In Review report is now online! CLICK HERE for the full report.



Bee webinar Dec. 7 on conservation strategy

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hosting a webinar Thursday, December 7 on the rusty patched bumble bee to present information about the Service’s conservation strategy; where to get information about section 7 consultations, project reviews, research needs, and surveys; resources that are available to you; and what you can do to help the bumble bee.

This webinar is for anyone interested in conservation actions for the species (including additional survey effort or needed research) or who may engage in section 7 consultations or other project reviews on the species. We will provide guidance and contacts for getting information for your specific interests.

What:    Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Webinar

Date:     Thursday, December 7, 2017

Time:    1 to 2:30 p.m. Central Time

Phone Access
Phone Number:  1-812-334-4261
Participant phone passcode: 1816413#

Web access will be for the presentation only. For audio portion of the presentation, please use the phone number, above.

WebEx Access
Password: No Password Required

Join Instructions for Instant Net Conference:

  1. Join the meeting now:

  1. Enter the required fields.
  2. Indicate that you have read the Privacy Policy.
  3. Click on Proceed.

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Online Conversation

There’s still time to sign up for this online conversation with Kingsbury Browne Fellow Steve Small about the advent and future of tax deductible conservation easement policy in the United States next Tuesday, June 20, from 11 a.m. to noon. You can register for this event HERE.

Steve Small

If you have protected farmland, forests or open space in your community, there’s a good chance you have Steve Small to thank. A legal pioneer who paved the way to make conservation easements tax-deductible in the U.S., Small wrote federal tax regulations credited with facilitating the conservation of millions of acres of private land.

He is an indefatigable source of energy and creativity for the use of easements and land conservation in America.

Small will join Jim Levitt of the Lincoln Institute and the Harvard Forest for an online dialogue regarding the history of tax deductible conservation easements over the past four decades, and the future of private open space protection in the United States. The two will also have a chance to reflect on the extensive collection of conservation related books which Small collected over the course of his career, and which he recently donated to the important collection of such volumes at Texas Tech University.


Land Trust and Trails Open House

Trails are one of the best ways that land trusts connect people with nature! Illinois Trail Corps and Grand Prairie Friends invite all conservation land trusts from around our State to tour and learn from the trail development project at Warbler Ridge, just south of Charleston, Illinois.

Saturday, June 10
8 a.m. to Noon

Warbler Ridge, Charleston, IL

You’ll find a map HERE for the location. To register for this outdoor excursion, click HERE to reserve your spot!

The Warbler Ridge trails project is a partnership between Grand Prairie Friends and Illinois Trail Corps, a program of the non-profit Trails for Illinois. Illinois Trail Corps helps public agencies, conservation land trusts and trail groups plan, design and build natural surface, non-motorized trails that encourage people to enjoy and explore the outdoors while minimizing ecological impact and maintenance.

The young adults who serve in the Corps get expert training and leadership in sustainable trail design and construction, and they LOVE teaching others and showing off their work. At the Open House, you will learn:

• Why Grand Prairie Friends said “YES!” to public access in its newest, largest reserve

• The considerations and methods behind sustainable trail planning and design

• Hands-on trail construction techniques (with sharp, heavy hand tools)

• The role sustainable, low-maintenance trails could play at your own properties

• The value of partnerships between conservation and non-motorized trail users and groups

• How good a bratwurst tastes after a 3-mile hike with over 800’ of climbing! (Yup, we’ll grill out.)

BONUS: A guided tour of the Woodyard Conservation Area, just up the road from Warbler Ridge. The world-class mountain bike trail system at Woodyard grew out of a conversation and then a partnership between the mountain bikers, the City of Charleston, local conservationists and birders to better steward and protect its 206 acres while increasing its value to Charleston’s economy and quality of life.

Looking forward to meeting you at Warbler Ridge!



Support Illinois Nature Preserves

The Illinois General Assembly is considering the Natural Areas Stewardship Act (HB 2031/SB 1029) that would allow expert nonprofit organizations to help local and state government conduct needed stewardship actions on Illinois Nature Preserves.

Nature preserves are permanently protected places that give us rare glimpses of what Illinois’ true nature looks like. Spread across 110,000+ acres in 94 counties, Illinois Nature Preserves support tall grass prairies, oak groves, sandstone bluffs, cypress swamps, and other rare native habitats.

You can contact your state legislators and request their support for the Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Act by clicking on this link provided by the Prairie State Conservation Coalition’s land trust partner, Openlands. 

Please share this information with your members. Together we can make our voices heard and make a difference.


Natural Land Institute accepting nominations for Fell Award

Nominations for the 2017 George and Barbara Fell Award are now being accepted for indiviuals with outstanding achievements in land conservation by The Natural Land Institute. Deadline for submissions is Friday, February 3, 2017.

The award is named after George and Barbara Fell who founded the Natural Land Institute in 1958 for the protection of natural areas in Illinois.

For details on submissions, click here for the nomination form.



Learn how to borrow money for land acquisitions

Ever struggle with finding funding for land and resource acquisitions? The Borrowing Money Boot Camp will help you learn “the art and science of borrowing money.”

Presented by The Conservation Finance Network, this boot cammp is March 14-16 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

For details. click on the link below:

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Illinois realtors support land conservation

The January issue of Illinois Realtor highlights the benefits of conservation easements and the organizations working to preserve more land.

Dan Lobbes, director of land protection for The Conservation Foundation, and Mary Vandevord, Heartlands Conservancy president and CEO, share their views on land preservation in the article, which also mentions Prairie State Conservation Coalition.

Check out the article here:

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