State of Illinois
2017 and 2018


Introduced , by Rep. Charles Meier


New Act

    Creates the Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Act. Creates the Illinois Land Conservation and Stewardship Grant Program to make grants to conservation land trusts to steward lands identified in the Illinois Natural Area Inventory, lands designated as a buffer area, lands designated as a nature preserve, or lands registered as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve. Establishes the duties of the Department of Natural Resources in carrying out the provisions of the Act. Creates provisions concerning violations of the Act and administrative review. Effective immediately.

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1    AN ACT concerning conservation.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Act.
6    Section 5. Legislative findings and statement of public
8    (a) The General Assembly finds that:
9        (1) Lands and waters held by non-governmental
10    conservation land trusts contribute to the general public
11    good, health, prosperity, and welfare of the State and its
12    citizenry. It is therefore appropriate for State
13    government to promote and assist conservation land trusts
14    to steward conservation lands so that the people of the
15    present and future generations continue to receive the
16    benefits of land conservation, including flood protection,
17    improved water and air quality, erosion control, wildlife
18    habitat, carbon sequestration, wildlife migration
19    corridors, and outdoor recreation.
20        (2) Public and private lands acquired for these
21    purposes incur perpetual stewardship costs to fully
22    protect them. Public-private partnerships are warranted to
23    continue protecting conservation lands while also



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1    providing the proper level of stewardship in order to meet
2    the ever increasing pressures exerted on conservation
3    lands by climate change, pollution, encroachment by
4    invasive and exotic species, and criminal trespass.
5        (3) The State's natural resource agencies and
6    conservation land trusts have a long history in cooperation
7    and partnership in implementing the Illinois Natural Area
8    Plan, Illinois Sustainable Natural Areas Vision, and the
9    Illinois State Wildlife Action Plan through the
10    acquisition, management, and defense of lands with
11    conservation value such as those identified on the Illinois
12    Natural Areas Inventory. This Act is intended to foster
13    local support for the execution of statewide conservation
14    goals and priorities by providing funding for conservation
15    land trusts to steward conservation lands identified on the
16    Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, land designated as a
17    buffer area, land dedicated as a nature preserve, or land
18    registered as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve.
19    (b) It is the purpose of this Act to provide cost share
20grants to conservation land trusts to help implement the
21Illinois Natural Area Plan, the Illinois Sustainable Natural
22Areas Vision, and the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan by
23conducting actions that are identified on the Illinois Natural
24Areas Inventory, lands dedicated as a buffer area, lands
25registered as a nature preserve, or lands registered as a
26Illinois Land and Water Reserve.



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1    Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act:
2    "Administrative decision" has the same meaning ascribed to
3it in Section 3-101 of the Code of Civil Procedure
4    "Applicant" means a conservation land trust that files an
5application for a grant under this Act.
6    "Buffer area" has the same meaning ascribed to it in
7Section 3.02 of the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act.
8    "Commission" means the Illinois Nature Preserves
9Commission as defined under Section 3.05 of the Illinois
10Natural Areas Preservation Act.
11    "Conservation dedication" means dedication as a nature
12preserve, dedication as a buffer area, or registered as an
13Illinois Land and Water Reserve under the Illinois Natural
14Areas Preservation Act.
15    "Conservation land trust" means an entity exempt from
16taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
17whose purposes include the conservation of land, natural areas,
18open space, or water areas, for the preservation of native
19plants or animals, biotic communities, geologic formations, or
20archeological sites of statewide significance.
21    "Department" means the Department of Natural Resources.
22    "Director" means the Director of Natural Resources.
23    "Fines and settlements" means natural resource fines,
24either State or federal, and out of court settlements for
25environmental damages.



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1    "Grant application" means a requests for funds to steward
2lands under this Act by conservation land trusts.
3    "Illinois Land Conservation and Stewardship Grant Program"
4means a program established under Section 20 of this Act.
5    "Illinois Land and Water Reserve" means land registered as
6a Land and Water Reserve with the Department of Natural
7Resources under the Department's authority under the Illinois
8Natural Areas Preservation Act.
9    "Land" has the same meaning ascribed to it in 3.09 in the
10Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act.
11    "Management plan" means a written management schedule
12developed for the preservation, protection, management, and
13use of lands reviewed by the Commission and approved by the
14landowner and the Department.
15    "Nature preserve" has the meaning as it is defined in
16Section 3.11 of the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act.
17    "Steward" means to improve or prevent degradation of land
18by applying stewardship and restoration practices including,
19but not limited to, prescribed burns, control of exotic and
20invasive species, fencing, and other practices identified in
21the management plan.
22    "Stewardship grant" means a grant from the Department to a
23conservation land trust to implement the purposes of this Act.
24    Section 15. Powers, duties, and authorizations. The
25Department shall:



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1        (1) Make grants in accordance with Section 20 of this
2    Act.
3        (2) Establish the total amount of funds available for
4    annual grants with review and formal approval by the
5    Commission at one of their regularly established meetings.
6    The total amount available for annual grants shall not
7    exceed $2,000,000 and shall not result in adverse impacts
8    on the operations of Department or the Commission.
9        (3) Accept fines and settlements or donations from any
10    corporation, foundation, non-governmental agency,
11    individual, or instrumentality thereof, for the purposes
12    of executing this Act and these funds may deposited into
13    the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund.
14        (4) Develop and administer the Illinois Natural Areas
15    Stewardship Grant program.
16        (5) Adopt rules to effectuate the purposes of this Act.
17        (6) Execute contracts, grant agreements, memoranda of
18    understanding, cooperation agreements, and any other
19    agreements with conservation land trusts and other State
20    and local agencies that are necessary to implement this
21    Act.
22        (7) Monitor compliance with all agreements, grants,
23    contracts, and other instruments developed under this Act
24    and to assure coordination with the Illinois Wildlife
25    Action Plan and the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory.
26        (8) Develop progress reports on the implementation and



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1    development of this Act which shall be filed biannually
2    with the Governor and the General Assembly.
3        (9) In any year in which grants are made under this
4    Act, the Department may use funds from the Natural Areas
5    Acquisition Fund to pay for the cost of Department
6    personnel, contractual, professional, or technical
7    services, equipment, materials, and supplies necessary or
8    appropriate to perform the functions under this Act,
9    provided that those costs shall not exceed 5% of the funds
10    appropriated to implement this Act in any fiscal year.
11    Section 20. Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Grant
13    (a) The Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Grant Program is
14established to make grants to conservation land trusts to
15steward lands identified in the Illinois Natural Areas
16Inventory, lands dedicated as a buffer area, lands designated
17as an nature preserve, or lands registered as an Illinois Land
18and Water Reserve.
19    (b) Lands included in a stewardship grant shall be placed
20under a permanent conservation dedication.
21    (c) Any conservation land trust in good standing with the
22federal Internal Revenue Service may apply for a grant.
23    (d) Any agency, organization, or entity that has taxing
24powers, collects taxes, or has eminent domain powers is not
25eligible for a grant under this Act.



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1    (e) The Department shall adopt rules in consultation with
2the Commission for the selection of grant recipients, amount of
3grant awards, and eligibility requirements to implement the
4purposes of this Act. However, the rules shall include the
5following requirements:
6        (1) Any stewardship grant under this Act shall require
7    a 10% match but cannot exceed $50,000 to any applicant in
8    any fiscal year.
9        (2) Lands included in a stewardship grant that are not
10    already encumbered by a permanent conservation dedication
11    shall be so encumbered by a permanent conservation
12    dedication as a condition of the grant and shall be
13    memorialized in writing and approved in writing by the
14    Director.
15    Section 25. Priorities. In considering applications for
16grants under this Act, the Department shall give priority to
17projects which will provide the greatest benefit to
18implementing the needs and priorities identified in the
19Illinois Natural Areas Plan, the Illinois Sustainable Natural
20Area Vision and the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan. The total
21amount of grants made for any fiscal year may not exceed the
22amount of the appropriation for that fiscal year.
23    Section 30. Injunctions. The Attorney General or the
24State's Attorney of the county where a project is located, may,



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1upon his or her own motion or upon request of the Department,
2Commission, or the public, institute a civil action for an
3injunction or other appropriate legal action to restrain
4violations of this Act or its rules. In this proceeding, the
5court shall determine whether a violation has been committed
6and shall enter orders as it considers necessary to remove the
7effects of any violation and to prevent the violation from
8continuing or from being renewed in the future.
9    Section 35. Violations. Any person, conservation land
10trust, governmental agency, non-governmental agency, or
11organization that willfully violates this Act or its rules, or
12causes a violation by their employee or agent, shall be liable
13for a civil penalty and the penalty shall be recovered in an
14action brought by the Attorney General or the State's Attorney
15in the circuit court. All penalties shall be deposited in the
16Natural Areas Acquisition Fund. Penalties collected under this
17Section shall not supersede criminal, civil, or other penalties
18enforced as a result of violations of this Section.
19    Section 40. Administrative Review Law. All final
20administrative decisions under this Act are subject to judicial
21review under the Administrative Review Law and its rules.
22"Administrative decision" means the term as defined in Section
233-101 of the Administrative Review Law.



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1    Section 45. Fund depository. All funds, assessments,
2fines, and settlements, compensations, transfers,
3appropriations, penalties, and donations made under this Act
4shall be deposited into the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund.
5    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
6becoming law.