Springfield – DNR again finds itself in an uncomfortable
financial spot, squeezed by a state budget crunch that could result
in CPO training program cutbacks and possibly even the closing of a
popular wildlife park.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget for DNR is $258.9
million, about 7 percent less than the 2011 budget. What the
slimmer budget means for Illinois hunters and anglers was still
unclear as the proposal was released Feb. 16.
Amidst the cuts, Quinn’s proposal actually calls for a slight
increase in general revenue funds for DNR – to $55 million from
$54.9 million in 2010 and $51.5 million in 2011.
Quinn said the first part of his overall $52.7 billion state
spending plan is “finding new ways to reduce unnecessary state
His plan includes cutting $2 million that was designated to
The “cut” strategy apparently also means a stop to state funding
for the 2,000-acre Wildlife Prairie State Park near Peoria. The
park had its budget flattened last summer, then replenished.
The budget proposal shows the fiscal 2012 appropriation of
$750,000 for Wildlife Prairie State Park being eliminated.
The amount is roughly half of the park’s annual budget.
The state took over the park in 2000 from the Forest Park
Foundation, started by Bill and Hazel Rutherford. The family ran
the park for 30 years.
James Tomlin, a representative of the Forest Park Foundation,
did not comment on the cuts. But he did tell the State
Journal-Register that the news was not a surprise.
“They have not given us any inkling that there would be any
restoration of funding for the time being,” he told the
A report by the Journal-Register states that the Foundation
“will contribute $500,000 per year for four years to keep the park
going, and the Friends will meet the remainder of the operating
budget and raise $5 million to pay for capital improvements.”
As for the overall DNR budget, about $80 million will come from
the Wildlife and Fish Fund, a federal repository for hunting and
According to media reports of the state Capital, federal funding
for Great Lakes restoration and Asian carp control experienced a
Meanwhile, as state revenue declines, lawmakers continue to find
ways to bring more money in. A bill introduced in late January
calls for an admission fee to state parks. It’s a revenue-building
idea DNR has talked about for more than two years, but no action
has been taken.
After Rep. JoAnn Osmond’s bill was introduced, DNR Director Marc
Miller replied to an inquiry about the proposal by saying, “The
agency has no position on that bill as it is still in review. The
department, itself, has no plans at this time implement a state
park parking fee.”