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Conservation News in Brief

Land Acquisitions at Kankakee Sands

The next time you visit Kankakee Sands, you may notice something different. The total acreage of this protected area is growing, and growing steadily. The Conservancy acquired 40 acres in June with a combination of funds from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and the Red Headed Woodpecker Fund, a challenge grant established by trustee Nancy Hamill Winter that matched every gift to the fund dollar-for-dollar up to $500,000. Other tracts are also currently being considered for purchase. These additions are crucial, as every acre helps protect the natural functions of this unique and fragile ecosystem.

Oak Leaf Award Presented to IL Sentator Don Harmon

The Nature Conservancy has honored state Senator Don Harmon with an Oak Leaf Award for his leadership in securing the passage of SB 1042, a bill that limits liability for landowners who allow the public on their land for recreational purposes. The Oak Leaf Award is given to elected officials who make meaningful contributions to conservation in Illinois.

“Senator Harmon’s skill crafting technical language and negotiating with various interests distinguished him among his peers,” said Susan Donovan, the Conservancy’s director of government relations for Illinois.

“We should make it easier for generous people to open their lands to the public—not harder. This new law should create opportunities for rock climbers, hikers, kayakers and other outdoors enthusiasts across the state,” Senator Harmon said at the August 23rd bill signing ceremony, where Governor Pat Quinn gave the legislation his mark of approval.

Seven years ago, Illinois became the only state to restrict liability protections for landowners who opened their property up to the public free of cost for recreational use. For the past several years, public outdoor recreational opportunities have been diminished on private lands because of rising insurance costs and liability concerns of private landowners. This bill restores these protections to landowners and goes into effect January 1, 2014.

Indian Boundary Prairies Goes Platinum

The Commission on Excellence in Ecological Restoration awarded The Nature Conservancy’s Indian Boundary Prairies Preserve the highest level of certification—the Platinum Tier. The certification is well-deserved recognition of more than 30 years of protection and restoration work by the Conservancy, fellow landowner Northeastern Illinois University, and the Natural Land Institute, all done in a challenging urban setting.
The Commission was established by Chicago Wilderness in 2012 as a way to advance high quality ecosystem restoration in the Chicagoland area. This tiered certification program is modeled after the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for green buildings. An awards ceremony is scheduled for early November.

Conservancy Thought Leaders Visit Chicago

This fall, two of The Nature Conservancy’s thought leaders were invited to Chicago to discuss sustainability, nature’s value, and more. First, Conservancy Lead Scientist Heather Tallis spoke at Chicago Ideas Week, an annual thought-leader forum designed to inspire action and ignite change to positively impact our world, on October 19. Tallis discussed how the Conservancy’s work can improve human well-being while also protecting biodiversity. One of the world’s foremost analysts of the connections between nature and human well-being, she joined the Conservancy in 2013 and is an expert in the benefits that nature provides people in the form of clean water, fertile soil, clean air and much more.

In addition, Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek will speak at the Bloomberg Business Summit in Chicago on November 20. He joins former New York Governor George Pataki and others in discussing “The Energy Revolution.” The Bloomberg Business Summit is a multi-day gathering of CEOs, senior executives, public sector officials and leaders in finance. As part of the multimedia Bloomberg Industry Project, the program will look at the forces transforming entire industries and look at what to expect for the year ahead.  

In the Press

Addressing the effects of climate change is one of the Conservancy’s global priorities. To that end, Illinois Conservation Director Bob Moseley was recently featured in Science, one of the premier science journals in the world, best known for publishing original peer-reviewed articles on cutting-edge research. Moseley was mentioned in a special Science issue called “A Once and Future Climate,” which focuses on natural systems in changing climates, with an emphasis on what we can learn from the past. The article discusses repeated photography and how the technique informs conservation best practices. Using more than 400 photographs taken along the Tibet-Yunnan border between 1895 and 1947, Moseley used the power of repeat photography to illustrate climate change.

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