Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Currently playing on my ipod: Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan, Revolver by the Beatles, Beggars Banquet by the Rolling Stones, Classic Masters of Frank Sinatra, a collection of Chuck Berry, and finally, odds and ends of Elvis, Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Norman Blake, The Clash, Eddie Rabbitt, Duke Ellington, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Hank Williams, Graham Parker, Gram Parsons, Al Green, Count Basie, Dion, The Everly Brothers, REM, U2, and Townes Van Zandt.

For those who will question why Eddie Rabbitt is playing, I just like "Two Dollars in the Jukebox". Not everything has to be "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll".

Monday, May 29, 2006

Gathering and Using Little Bits

One of the things that I noticed from the Special Park Districts Forum was something that I have also seen at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. That is, how so many of the staff members really love what they do. This is not only their vocation, but their advocation. We have full time employees that get off of work and then go out in the field to volunteer as amphibian monitors.

This is a real benefit when someone asks them questions about nature. They will take the time to really teach about the subject. I have learned so much at these Forums just by asking questions as we were walking from one site to another. Whether we were talking about best management practices for the natural resources, or how to better engage the public about nature, these individuals have really given me insight into how to improve our preserves.

One concept that was intriguing was threshhold opportunities. They had a playground next to a redwood forest. The point was to bring people to the threshhold of nature and then to encourage the people at the playground to go into the forest and learn about what is there. Maybe they would find a banana slug. We should look into how to teach people about nature as they go about their golf game. The same can be said in the dog parks, on the trails, at the archery range, etc. Look for more of this in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

California was nice

I just recently attended The Special Park Districts Forum. This year's host agencies were East Bay Regional Park District and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
While Illinois was enjoying rainy days (How many of you had complained that we haven't had a Spring for the last few years.), California was sunny, cloudy, foggy, very cold and blazing hot. In Chicago it is said if you don't like the weather, stick around, it will change. In this section of California, if you don't like the weather, drive 12 or so miles for a change.

The concept of this forum is to glean ideas from experiencing how they run their Districts. So instead of sitting in a hotel room on uncomfortable chairs, listening to a really boring presentation, we go out into the parks. Then we not only learn from the presenter, but have plenty of time to chat with people from open space agencies all over the country. This is really valuable. I came away with many great ideas. I will get into this more over the next few posts.

On the fun side, I have several new birds to add to my birding list, as soon as I get a list. These include the Prairie Falcon, Western Bluebird male and female.), Ravens,
and more. For my animal ecologists friends, I also found a Banana Slug (a 8" slimy, off-colored yellow creature.)

More soon...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Openlands Report

I have just received the Openlands study of issues facing forest preserves. It is titled " Forest Preserve and Conservation Districts in Northeastern Illinois: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century." It studies the districts in the counties Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake and McHenry. (McHenry has a Conservation District instead of a Forest Preserve District. As my pilot buddy says "It's close enough for airline work!") It goes through what we do and how we do it, notes the general history of the districts, discusses a few differences here and there, makes some recommendations, and then comes to a conclusion.

For DuPage the general recommendations are to buy more land, work with state and federal elected officials to help local dollars go farther, develop a policy to prevent sale of land, advance ecological restoration, provide recreational opportunities, offer broad spectrum of education opportunities, and use sound fiscal management while looking to diversify our revenue sources. Finally it concludes that we should work with the other districts to enhance the overall quality of the region's preserves for the benefit of present and future generations.

My take- Keep doing what you're doing, just more of it and do it better. I had hoped to see more guidance on recreation and education, but I guess that is why we have a planning department. It does give me confidence in the direction the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is headed. I had just hosted a sit-down with Will County to discuss collectively developing Greene Valley FP with their Whalon Lake FP to expand the offerings for both. Together they would form something of a regional preserve. I am working to bring in other partners and stake holders so this might be a grand venture. I am hoping to bring an education center here, as it has easy access from the 355 tollway for most of DuPage and from Will once the extention to US 80 is complete. Plus, the area has most of DuPage's habitat types. It doesn't hurt that Greene Valley already sees 230,000 visitors a year without a center.

More on this later...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blue State, Red Ink

Yesterday I attended the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Committee meeting. State Rep. Tom Cross (R) gave a power point presentation titled "Mortgaging Their Future". It was essentially how Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his Democrat pals have left Illinois awash in debt. A quick look at the numbers:
  • A pension scheme that raids pension funds of $3.5 billion over five years that will cost taxpayers $38.5 billion to repay.
  • The Governor has increased the general obligation bond debt by 167% in three short years, from $7.6 billion to $20.3 billion.
  • The liability for Medicaid has increased about 30%. The Governor has pushed an increased amount of current expenses into the next fiscal year, from $1 billion to $1.8 billion since FY03. Three years for the Medicaid year-end debt to increase 80%.
  • The Governor has borrowed almost as much in three years as had been borrowed in the previous 20 years.
  • Just these items mean that each Illinois citizen, man, woman, and child, has had an increased amount of debt of more than $4700.

More later...