Conservation Congress set to be re-convened Oct. 24

Springfield – With cautious optimism, DNR is re-forming the
Conservation Congress.

A group of committees focused on three issues – public access,
funding and youth recruitment and retention – are holding meetings
in preparation for the Congress, scheduled for Oct. 24-25 in
Springfield.

“We realize there’s a lot to be done, but we’re happy to see the
step of having a Congress is being taken,” Bob Becker, president of
the Illinois Federation for Outdoors Resources, said. Becker, who
was involved with the original Congress in 1993, sits on the
current Public Access committee.

DNR Director Marc Miller pointed out that, unlike previous
Conservation Congresses, there will be no regional caucuses. DNR’s
Natural Resources Advisory Board has formed the three committees,
which will report to the Congress after collecting input at public
meetings.

The original Conservation Congress was considered the crowning
achievement of Brent Manning’s tenure as DNR director. It was
modeled after the General Assembly and brought together
representatives from interest groups across the state.

That ‘93 Congress’ process was aimed at “enabling constituents
to formulate recommendations that may lead to implementation of new
policies and/or procedures within DNR,” according to Manning.

Some of the more visible examples accomplished during the first
Congress were founding of The Illinois Conservation Foundation;
creation of the Division of Education; and production of the
Environmental License Plate.

While many applaud the idea of re-convening a Congress, early
complaints have centered around the timing – the announcement that
it was being formed came abruptly in July. But Miller expects that
all will fall in place by the time Oct. 24 rolls around.

“As a past Conservation Congress participant and executive
committee member, I know the value of this important tradition and
the role it plays to provide a voice for conservationists and
recreation advocates,” Miller said.

Read more about the Conservation Congress and its committees in
the Aug. 21 issue of Illinois Outdoor News.

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