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Forest Preserves of Cook County Officials Urge Gov. Rauner to Release Grant Funds

Tuesday, September 08, 2015
Special to suffredin.org
by Lambrini Lukidis

For Immediate Release September 8, 2015

Forest Preserves of Cook County Officials Urge

Gov. Rauner to Release Grant Funds

Approximately $4.5 million in state and federal grant money awarded to the Forest Preserves of Cook County remains frozen indefinitely by the State of Illinois.

In a resolution introduced at the September Board of Commissioners meeting of the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC), President Toni Preckwinkle with the support of 6th District Cook County Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy and General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County Arnold Randall together sponsored a resolution calling for state officials to release the frozen funds.

“The funds in question are approved and previously awarded grants to the Preserves,” said President Preckwinkle. “This money helps provide the FPCC the ability to care for and improve protected, open space which is vital to the quality of life of the residents of Cook County. I am dismayed that Gov. Rauner continues to prolong the release of these designated funds.”

The following grants remain on hold due to the suspension of Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) funds:

·Dan Ryan Nature Play & Recreational Development

($1,063,500) awarded January 2015; suspended March 2015

IDNR, Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD)

·Habitat Restoration – Dam Modification & Removal

($1,500,000) awarded January 2015; suspended June 2015
IDNR

·Villa Santa Maria Land Acquisition – Tinley Creek Preserves

($904,000) awarded April 2014; suspended June 2015

IDNR, Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

·Habitat Restoration – Sulky Pond

($31,250) awarded September 2014; suspended March 2015
IEPA, Priority Lake and Watershed Implementation Program

·134th Street March Land Acquisition – Powderhorn Greenway

($1,003,000) awarded June 2013; suspended March 2015

IDNR, (OSLAD)

·Millennium Reserve Invasive Control & Job Training Program

($439,500) awarded March 2015; currently on hold
IDNR, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

In addition to postponing restoration work, land acquisition and recreational development, the withholding these funds threatens to waste investments already made by the Preserves on the projects. Furthermore, the loss of matching funds means projects cannot be completed and in some cases cannot be started.

“I urge Governor Rauner to release the 4.5 million dollars in Federal and State grant money that has already been awarded to the Forest Preserves of Cook County,” said 6th District Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy. Cook County is home to some of the most diverse habitats in the state of Illinois, and the grants money will help protect the flora, fauna and wildlife. The preserves also contribute to the vitality of the region, attracting thousands of visitors who come study, camp, play and enjoy our preserves every year.“

“The Forest Preserves have long looked to state and federal grant programs for assistance in funding projects vital to the sustainability of our local habitats, many of which contain threatened and endangered plants and wildlife not found outside of Cook County,” said Randall. “In addition to preserving our natural and cultural heritage, the Preserves also impact the economic vitality of the region, a goal lawmakers and residents alike agree is necessary for the future of the region.”

Today’s resolution will be delivered to Gov. Rauner, IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal and IEPA Director Lisa Bonnett.

# # #



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