COVID-19 Survey could determine nature funding

Forefront is asking all nonprofit organizations across the state to fill out a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on their  operations and to determine community needs. Forefront is Illinois’ statewide association representing both grantmakers and nonprofits, as well as their advisors and allies.

Open space and nature is critical now more than ever. Nature is a human service; it’s not just about plants and animals, it’s about people — all of us.

Because so many of our foundation supporters are moving to COVID support, the conservation community of land trusts in Illinois need to join our voices to emphasize the importance of natural areas and nature to each of us during this pandemic now more than ever.

Our parks, preserves, and other open spaces already have seen a surge in use as our friends, families, and neighbors seek out these healing places as a refuge from the stresses of the pandemic restrictions.

Your input is critical as the results of the survey will be considered in recommendations shared with state elected officials and grantmaking organizations.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey no later than Friday, November 13 by 5 p.m.

Your voice is needed on this important issue. We encourage you to let the foundations know through this survey how important this is as a mental, emotional, and physical healing response to the stresses of the pandemic.


3-part online Leadership Workshops

PSCC is excited to offer a 3-part online series of workshops to help you become a better leader for your oganization’s future.

We have partnered with Benedictine University’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership for these workshops to enable busy leaders like yourself to benefit from a time of focused leadership development. The series focuses on three levels of leadership: self, others, and organization.

Thanks to the generous support of the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, we are able to offer these workshops to our members at the very reasonable price of $30 for PSCC members and $45 for non-members for all three sessions.

Take a look at the session pamphlet for more details and register now. Registration deadline is Thursday, September 10. Space is limited to four tickets per organization. 


*Leading Self:
Being a Leader People Want to Follow, September 17

*Leading Others:
Building High-Performing Teams, October 1

*Leading the Org:
Connecting Purpose to Strategy to Drive Results, October 15

All online sessions are on Thursdays from 9 to 10:30 am

Registration deadline is Thursday, September 10

We hope you take advantage of this exciting opportunity!


Kerry Leigh appointed to IDNR Advisory Board

Natural Land Institute is pleased to announce that Kerry Leigh, Executive Director, has been appointed by Governor Pritzker to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Advisory Board. Kerry’s term of service will go through January, 2025.

The IDNR Advisory Board was established via Illinois State Statute under 20 ILCS 5/5-560 and is comprised of 13 people from across the state. Advisory Board members play an important role for the department. While board members do not have statutory authority to bind the agency, they discuss with and can advise the agency regarding conservation, recreational opportunities, protection of lands, bodies of water and wildlife, research, land acquisition, and hunting seasons, and bag limits of protected wildlife.

Leigh is also a board member of Prairie State Conservation Coalition and a consultant to the Illinois Department of Nature Preserves Commission.


2019 Year in Review released

As we have done the last several years, we have released a year in review wrap up to highlight and applaud the many things land trusts across the state have accomplished in the last year.

The 2019 Year In Review is now available! Download it and enjoy.

As always, we appreciate the year-long work that David Holman undertakes in keeping track of it all and compiling this comprehensive report each year.


George and Barbara Fell Award nominations sought

This is an opportunity to give recognition to an individual who has demonstrated distinguished achievement during an entire career, which could be in natural resources management, education, journalism, law, or science applied to protection, stewardship, or restoration of natural areas. Volunteers also are eligible.

This land conservation award is named after George Fell, founder of the Natural Land Institue in 2958, and his wife Barbara to recognize accomplishments in natural area preservation, protecction, management, and restoration in northern Illinois.

For more details on guidelines, go to the Natural Land Institute website.


Illinois Monarch Project Action Plan

Survey results from earlier this year have been compiled into a draft action plan that needs further direction.

Take a look and let them know if your organization has any projects to benefit Monarchs/pollinators that aren’t covered in the draft action plan. Get your comments and suggestions to them no later than November 4. For natural lands, contact Bridget Henning. For other questions, contact Iris Caldwell.

The draft plan can be reviewed here.

The next steps include combining actions with other sectors and identifying metrics for tracking implmenetation of actions. The action plan will be presented this winter with a second Illinois Monarch Summit.

Your participation is appreciated!


Chainsaw Operation and Safety class

Learn the basic function and operation of a chainsaw and how to handle it safely in the Beginner Chainsaw Operation and Safety Workshop offered by Natural Land Institute on Sunday, November 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Rd., in Rockton, Illinois. 

This is a great learning opportunity for volunteers, professionals, and landowners. Equipment will be provided. Dress for the weather. The workshop will take place in an unheated barn and outside. There will be a lunch break and attendees may bring a lunch or visit a local restaurant. The workshop will be led by Zach Grycan (Natural Land Institute), and Melissa Grycan, (The Land Conservancy of McHenry County). 

Cost: $35 per person. Please register by Friday, November 1 online here at the Natural Land Institute website or call (815) 964-6666.


PSCC accepting RFP’s for business plan development

Prairie State Conservation Coalition is seeking proposals to help develop a business plan for the organization to better meet the needs of its members.

Anyone wishing to submit an RFP can do so by downloading the request here. Complete proposals must be submitted no later than August 22. Questions about the process need to be submitted by August 15.

Project completion date is February 28 2020.


Gov. Pritzker signs illegal logging legislation

The Illinois Environmental Council announced that Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation on Friday, July 19, 2019 to amend the Wrongful Tree Cutting Act. The bill was passed with overwhelming support.

The bill increases penalties and provides compensation for damages and remediation costs as a result of illegal logging on protect land.

You can read the entire news release here, and HB3105 here.


Cahokia Mounds national park bill introduced

Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12) this week introduced a bill to create Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park.

Heartlands Conservancy thanks the congressman for his extraordinary leadership, along with the leadership and support of Congressmen Lacy Clay, John Shimkus, and Rodney Davis and Senator Dick Durbin.

In 2014, HeartLands Conservancy, in collaboration with Native American groups, archaeologists, agencies, and regional leaders, published the Mounds — America’s First Cities Feasibility Study. In preparation of that study, Heartlands worked with stakeholder and technical advisory committees and conducted 13 regional public meetings and met with numerous communities, stakeholders, and groups to gather input. The study concluded that the Mississippian Culture, with the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site as its hub, met all the criteria to be included as a unit of the National Park Service, and it further concluded that a collaborative partnership between the National Park Service and the State of Illinois would be both beneficial, suitable, and feasible for the future national historical park.

The greater Cahokia Mounds region was once the largest urban center in North America. Many Native American nations and tribes have origins in the Mississippian culture, and their stories and heritage must not be forgotten. HeartLands Conservancy will continue to advocate for this designation as the process continues through both the House and Senate through designation and establishment.

HeartLands Conservancy would like to acknowledge support from the Illinois leadership and General Assembly, and the efforts of native american tribes and nations, archaeologists, communities, St. Clair County, Madison County, the state of Illinois, and partner agencies and organizations across the region and country. Because of this groundswell of support, we are one step closer to elevating and preserving Cahokia Mounds and other mound groups of the Mississippian Culture for people to experience now and for generations to come through this bi-state national historical park.

HeartLands Conservancy engaged more than eleven Native American tribes and nations with origins in the Mississippian Culture in this effort. We thank them for their support and efforts, including, Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Loyal Shawnee Culture, Miami Tribe, Osage Nation/Tribe, Ottawa Tribe, Peoria Tribe, Ponca Tribe, and Quapaw Tribe.

Archaeologists from across the country and the states of Missouri and Illinois participated by either being involved through their documentation research, findings, conferences, or through the technical advisory team. Individuals were from Washington University in St. Louis, University of Illinois, SIUE, the IAS- Illinois Archeological Survey, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, and former National Park Service archaeologists.


Between 1000 and 1200 AD, the Mississipians built hundreds of earthen mounds and established what is today known as Cahokia Mounds, an Illinois State Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Mississippians established numerous satellite villages and mound groups throughout southern Illinois and the St. Louis region and established a complex trading system that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Greater Cahokia grew to become the largest city in North America for hundreds of years.

Cahokia Mounds today is under-designated. The Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park will be managed collaboratively between the National Park Service, the State of Illinois – who owns Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site – and other entities. The effort also includes significant mound sites in both southwestern Illinois and eastern Missouri.