From the Illinois State Rifle Association --
Illinois Wildlife Funds in Jeopardy
In an unprecedented move to reduce Illinois’ budget deficits, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill authorizing Gov. Rod Blagojevich to sweep $18 million from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, including $9.25 million from dedicated conservation funds, which are primarily generated through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, stamps and permits.
The bill authorizing the sweeps is designed to restore more than $220 million in state budget cuts that reduced services and closed some state parks. However, hunting and outdoor groups have come out saying that sweeps from dedicated conservation funds would devastate Illinois’ natural resources by crippling the already budget-ravaged DNR and harm Illinois’ hunting and fishing industries, which pump more than $1.2 billion into the state’s economy.
Under federal guidelines, the sweeps would also compromise federal funds and could be illegal. Both state and federal law prohibits the use of funds raised through license, stamps and permit sales from being used for any purpose other than for wildlife and fish restoration and management.
“Hunters and anglers pay for the opportunity to hunt and fish by purchasing licenses, stamps and permits, as well as through the federal tax on firearms, ammunition and sporting equipment,” said Kent Adams, National Wild Turkey Federation regional biologist for Illinois. “These funds are dedicated for conservation, wildlife management and public land acquisition, and sweeping them would cause Illinois to lose $15 million in federal funds that would be used for wildlife conservation. That loss would continue annually, until the swept funds were restored, so this action does nothing to solve the state budget deficit.”
Conservation and hunting organizations banded together to request Gov. Blagojevich veto SB 790, but on Oct. 7, 2008, Gov. Blagojevich quietly signed it into law. Now, many are contacting the Governor’s office asking that he not harm the future of conservation and hunting in Illinois, or the state’s economy, by sweeping dedicated sportsmen’s funds.
Call the Governor’s office at (217) 782-6830 and request that Gov. Blagojevich not fix the looming budget crisis by sweeping wildlife funds, which will hurt the future of Illinois’ wildlife and economy.
Potentially affected conservation funds:
• Illinois Habitat Fund
• Wildlife and Fish Fund
• Fish and Wildlife Endowment Fund
• Illinois Habitat Endowment Trust Fund
• State Migratory Waterfowl Fund
• State Pheasant Fund