Board Funding Eliminated
Take Action: The Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board was recently zeroed out by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We urge IDNR to fully fund and staff the Endangered Species Protection Board in a way that preserves the science needed to protect all species and preserves the Board’s independent decision making.
What Happened: As of September 15, 2015, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (citing the tenuous state of the IDNR financial condition and the bleak Illinois State budget) decided to no longer fund the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board now or in the foreseeable future. Funding for the Board operations and staff is from a single line appropriation in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Budget. There is no funding for Board staff or operational activity which puts at risk the protections of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals in Illinois.
About the Endangered Species Protection Board
The Endangered Species Protection Board was created by the Endangered Species Protection Act in 1972 and its roles and responsibilities are codified in statute (520 ILCS 10/6).
The board consists of nine volunteer members, who are appointed by the Governor. At least six members must be naturalists, including at least two zoologists, two ecologists, and one botanist.
There are 480 animals and plants currently listed on the endangered and threatened species list. The board is responsible for maintaining and updating the List of Illinois Endangered and Threatened Species as warranted and no less often than every 5 years.
The Board also advises the Department on best practices related to the protection, conservation management practices and habitat for these fragile species.
By law, changes to the Illinois List must be based on scientific evidence including evaluating each of the currently listed species and additional species for changes in population size, changes in range in the state, whether it occurs at protected sites, any known threats to its existence, as well as features of its life history which might have a bearing on survival. To accomplish this requirement, staff need to conduct and participate in field surveys and research, compile data and biological information from multiple sources for each species, and prepare a status and distribution review with listing status recommendation for Board consideration.
How will this critical work get done?
These duties are clearly above and beyond what can be expected of a volunteer board; therefore, without dedicated Board staff the IDNR needs to demonstrate how it will provide staffing support and how it will be independent enough to provide the checks and balances that the Board needs to assure that potential conflicts between the department and the board are truly resolved.
Why do we care about protecting Endangered and Threatened Species?
Special attention is given to protecting species of plants and animals that have become rare to prevent their complete disappearance from our environment.
Plants and animals serve as early indicators of environmental problems that are potentially dangerous to humans.
Any species of plant or animal may someday provide a product or service that is valuable to humans from food to fiber to medicine.
Every plant or animal species contributes to the stability of the ecosystem. Each species is connected in a complex relationship to others. The loss of any species impacts other species that have evolved along with it.
- The loss of any plant or animal species diminishes the natural beauty of the earth which we all benefit from for our physical, spiritual and emotional health and well being.