Cuts could drastically impact state’s ability to conserve natural resources

Springfield Illinois – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently unveiled a proposal to cut the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) budget by $14 million. Illinois Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) fear the cuts could severely hamper the IDNR’s conservation efforts and their ability to partner with conservation organizations.

The dissipation of funds would result in a loss of 20% of the general fund budget for the IDNR, an agency that has already been stripped of 25% of its staff due to budget cuts and hiring freezes since 2001. “The IDNR is an absolute key player in a lot of the work we do here in Illinois,” said Aaron Kuehl, Illinois Conservation Director for PF/QF, “We are very aware and extremely concerned with how this cut could adversely impact this agency’s ability to continue its outstanding work in the area of habitat and wildlife conservation.”

Just as recently as July 17th, PF and the IDNR partnered to close on the 377-acre Finfrock habitat area acquisition in De Witt County. However, the governor’s proposed cutback could drastically impact the state’s ability to effectively help conserve and protect its natural resources in the future.

Illinois’s 45 PF chapters account for over 8,100 members statewide. Those chapters have spent more than $9.3 million to complete over 27,900 habitat projects since the first Illinois PF chapter was formed in 1985. Those projects have benefited more than 261,000 acres for wildlife. There are also 17 QF chapters and 1,000 QF members in Illinois.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever empower chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100% of their locally raised conservation funds will be spent – the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. As a result, chapter volunteers are able to see the fruits of their efforts locally, while belonging to a larger national organization with a voice on federal and state conservation policy.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are non-profit conservation organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant, quail, and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. PF/QF has more than 129,000 members in 700 local chapters across the continent.

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