Saturday, November 15, 2008

Riverside Park, Springfield, Sangamon County and Update on IDNR Banner Mine Hearing

During the lunch break at the IDNR hearing on the proposed Banner Mine on
Friday, I drove to Riverside Park along the Sangamon River. Several
Red-bellied Woodpeckers were working the woods, along with some Nuthatches
and Chickadees. A Belted Kingfisher flew up from the river and perched on a
branch right in front of my parked car. I ate my lunch watching the bird for
about 5 minutes. He didn't leave when a car drove by. Of course, as soon as
I stepped out of the car, he flew across the river to a perch on the other
bank. It was kind of muddy, and cloudy, but I enjoyed getting out for a

Regarding the hearing, all testimony, including direct, cross, and rebuttal,
has been heard by the hearing officer. Now the Attorney General's
representative, who has been representing the petitioners, will write a
brief; the attorneys for the coal company and the DNR will respond; the AG
will respond to that; then the hearing officer will make a decision. This
decision likely will be appealed no matter which way the hearing officer
rules. Also, there are other permits necessary before any mining can begin.
So, they won't be mining right away, and that is a good thing!

Several people have asked how they can help fight the mine at this site.
You can help by looking for endangered or threatened species in the area. I
encourage birders in the area to look for and post sightings of any rare,
endangered, or threatened species found. I searched the IBET archives for
sightings in the area over the past three years and found more than 70
reports of rare, endangered, or threatened birds. I'm sure there were more
sightings that were not posted to the list. I encourage you to post every
sighting at Bell's Landing, every sighting along Banner Dike Road (the road
leading to Copperas Landing) between Banner and the entrance to Rice
Lake, every sighting at Slim Lake or the north side of Rice and Big Lakes.
These areas are all adjacent to the proposed mine sight. Please submit
reports to IBET, for a public record, and also submit formal reports to the
Illinois Natural Heritage Database:

Please be advised that address on the form is incorrect. Send it to:

Illinois Natural History Database Program Manager
Watershed Management Section
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271

Here is a link to a list of Endangered Species, with links to descriptive
web pages:

I am hoping to find Short-eared Owls this year (they were found there in
2007, but not last winter), as well as Northern Harriers. I hope to spot
them flying across Banner Dike Road from the mining area to the area in
Bell's Landing where I spotted them in 2007. In 2007, they flew into Bell's
Landing, coming over the levee. They came from some place, and my theory is
that they came from the proposed mine site. I just have to prove it now!

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition. I was waiting until the
hearing sessions were over before submitting it to the USFWS. I will send the
petition with 454 signatures and all of the comments by certified mail on
Monday morning.