Discussing Environmental and Conservation Issues with Elected Officials

Natural Land Institute (NLI) and the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC) hosted a tour and lunch for Legislators and local elected officials at Nygren Wetland Preserve, Rockton, Ill., on July 30, 2019.

Kerry Leigh, Executive Director of NLI, led the tour on and off the wagon around the preserve and the discussion during lunch. Topics of the tour included the need for more open space and passing a Capital budget that invests in open space acquisition for Illinois’ future; soil erosion problems, soil health and fully funding the state’s Soil & Water Conservation Districts; reinstating the Endangered Species Council; keeping the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission an independent agency; and protecting our legacy and economy by funding statewide invasive species control.

NLI and IEC representatives welcomed Congresswoman Cheri Busto’s Field Rep. Ricardo Montoya-Picazo, Rep. Joe Sosnowski and his team, Simone Cameron, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Maurice West, Rockton Township Trustee Matt Cuyler, Sharon Hecox, representing Rockton Township Supervisor Paul Williams, Dennis Anthony, Ex. Dir. of Winn. Co. Soil & Water Conservation District, and Roscoe’s Village Administrator Scott Sanders. In addition to IEC representatives, staff from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and several NLI Trustees attended.

NLI and the IEC believe this was an ideal opportunity to help elected officials and lawmakers “go from aware of the environmental issues we care about to highly knowledgeable, or from knowledgeable to passionate”. First-hand experience in nature and participating in a conversation about environmental and conservation issues is a good way to grow environmental champions.

The IEC held a series of tours throughout the state this summer to build relationships with lawmakers and engage them with first hand experiences in natural areas and natural resource conservation practices.

About the Illinois Environmental Council

Founded in 1975, IEC seeks to protect our environment by creating and advocating for sound environmental laws and policies. IEC represents over 90 environmental and community organizations and more than 300 individuals from throughout Illinois.

About the Natural Land Institute

The Natural Land Institute, an accredited conservation land trust, is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization based in Rockford, Illinois, which has protected more than 17,300 acres of natural land in Illinois since 1958. The current service area covers twelve counties in northern Illinois. NLI’s mission is to create an enduring legacy of natural land in northern Illinois for people, plants and animals. For more information and to donate:  www.NaturalLand.org.

About Nygren Wetland Preserve:

The Carl & Myrna Nygren Wetland Preserve is the largest wildlife sanctuary, at 721 acres, that is owned by the Natural Land Institute. There are upland sand prairies, lowland prairies, wetlands, bottomland forest, oxbow lakes and ponds in the preserve. Raccoon Creek runs through the preserve and the Rock and Pecatonica Rivers flow along its borders. The Dianne Nora Nature Trail is a free 2.5 mile hiking trail around the wetland and is part of the Prairie State Hike app (99¢ in the Apple or Android Store).