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Rural Illinois Perspectives by Timothy Collins, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs Assistant Director
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IIRA Working with IDNR for Conservation Congress: Regional Meeting at WIU-QC in March

February 15, 2013

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Rural Illinois Perspectives by Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs Assistant Director Timothy Collins

MACOMB/MOLINE, IL — The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University is cooperating with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to hold a series of regional meetings leading up to a statewide Conservation Congress in September.

According to IDNR Director Marc Miller, the congress will give IDNR constituencies a formal process to propose and advocate actions that can be taken by elected and appointed officials to protect and conserve the natural resources in Illinois. Miller said the goal of Conservation Congress "is to ensure through professional management that sustainable use, recreational opportunities and enjoyment of these resources is available for this and future generations."

The regional meetings offer a ramp up to the statewide Conservation Congress in September. The five regional meetings will help gather information from various IDNR constituents on five focus areas to help the agency meet its constitutional mandate of protecting the state's natural resources. The meetings will be structured to allow participants to comment on all five topics:

  • sustainable resource development and extraction—mines and minerals, water resources, forestry, etc.;
  • sustainable resource harvest—outdoor recreation, wildlife and fish conservation, hunting, fishing, etc.;
  • sustainable provision of outdoor recreation—recreational public access, state parks, etc.;
  • sustainable resource protection—regulation, law enforcement, etc.; and
  • building bridges—developing new constituencies, professional development, improving and growing partnerships.

The regional meetings will be held across the state in February and March. All sessions will begin at 7 p.m. and will end at 9 p.m. The dates and sites are:

  • John A. Logan College, Carterville — Tuesday-Wednesday Feb. 19-20;
  • Heartland Community College, Normal — Tuesday-Wednesday Feb. 26-27;
  • WIU Quad Cities, Moline — Monday-Tuesday, March 4-5;
  • South Shore Cultural Center, Chicago — Tuesday-Thursday, March 12-14; and
  • Southwestern Illinois College, Belleville — Thursday-Friday, March 21-22.

According to Miller, discussions at the regional meetings will create specific ideas for potential actionable items and serve as the basis for an online survey giving the public more opportunity to vote for the actionable items they would like the IDNR to pursue.

The survey will be tallied, and those items receiving the most support will be discussed at the Illinois Conservation Congress in Springfield in September. The goal of the September meeting will be to develop work plans for actionable items.

For more information about the 2013 congress, check out the IDNR Conservation Congress website at To register for a session, go to

Western Illinois University is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity institution. For more information about the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, visit For more information, contact Collins at 800-526-9943 or via email at

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