Friday, January 09, 2009

Public Hearing Jan 23 Changes to Illinois List of Threatened and Endangered Species

As outrageous as it is, the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board is proposing to delist the American Bald Eagle from the list of Threatened Species in Illinois! Will they never stop developing the little land that is left for birds in this state? I'm outraged.

In addition to delisting Bald Eagles, they plan to delist Henslow's Sparrow, and Sandhill Cranes.

And, get this, they are going to change Mississippi Kites from Endangered to Threatened, because:

"This species appears to be increasing and expanding its range slightly within the state. The population appears to be too secure to be considered Endangered."

Are you kidding me? This is totally insane.

It is our IDNR being run by people who only consider developing our resources, not protecting them. Illinois has very few natural areas left, which these species need. These proposed changes will make it easier for developers to come in with their huge Caterpillar machines and destroy the trees, like they are doing at Copperas Landing to put in a pumping station for the Canton pipeline going in along Banner Dike Road.

What can we do as citizens, you ask?

Well we can do a lot, I have found. We just need to get involved as citizens and make our voices heard. The time frame for this is very short. They count on us not knowing about it in time to make a difference.

This time we do know about it in time. Let's make a difference.

Please come to this hearing prepared to give comments, up to 5 minutes, regarding why the status of these birds should not be changed.

Then follow up with detailed written comments. If you cannot attend the hearing, please send comments to the board regarding why these birds need to be protected.

We missed the boat on this part of the process for issuing the mining permit in Banner. Let's not miss this opportunity to be heard by the Endangered Species Protection Board.

The Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board will hold a public hearing at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, January 23, 2009 at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources headquarters building (Lakeview Conference Room C), One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, Illinois to take public comments on proposed changes to the Illinois List of Threatened and Endangered Species.

This hearing will be accessible to handicapped individuals in compliance with all pertinent state and federal laws, upon notification of anticipated attendance. Handicapped persons planning to attend and needing special accommodations should contact the Endangered Species Protection Board at 217/785-8687 (TTY 217/782-9175) prior to the hearing to inform of their anticipated attendance.


Ammodramus henslowii (Henslow’s Sparrow)Proposed Action: remove from threatened. The number of locations in the Natural Heritage Database for Henslow’s sparrows continues to increase. The recently completed recovery outline for this species recommends consideration for removal from the state list when, within the last five years, there are records in the Natural Heritage Database from 40 or more Illinois counties, and 10 or more populations numbering 20 or more breeding pairs within protected habitats. The county threshold has been met (46 counties between 2002-2006) and the protected populations criteria has also been met.

Grus Canadensis (Sandhill Crane) – Proposed Action: remove from threatened. The population within the state continues to increase and is also establishing occurrences outside of northeastern Illinois. Recent analyses of data from the Northeastern Illinois Wetland Bird Survey indicate a significantly increasing population in the northeastern portion of the state.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)Proposed Action: remove from threatened. This species appears to be doing very well in the state, the number of records in the Natural Heritage Database continues to go up as does the number of counties from which the species is known to occur in Illinois. Winter surveys are showing good numbers of immatures, indicating a healthy age structure.

Ictinia mississippiensis (Mississippi Kite)Proposed Action: change status from endangered to threatened. This species appears to be increasing and expanding its range slightly within the state. The population appears to be too secure to be considered Endangered.

PUBLIC HEARING January 23, 2009

Changes to Illinois List of Threatened and Endangered Species

1. Call to Order (Hearing Officer, Secretary, Chris Phillips)
2. Introduction of Board members and staff
3. Opening Statement (Director, Anne Mankowski)
4. Public Comments (chaired by Hearing Officer, Secretary, Chris Phillips)


A) Registration Form

1) Everyone should fill-out and return form to the front of the room (before hearing starts).
2) Indicate if you wish to comment.

B) Oral Comments:

1) We will call on you, using your registration form (in the order turned in).
2) Come to the front of the room to speak.
3) Give your name and affiliation, if any.
4) Limit comments to 5 minutes each.
5) We will only accept comments on the topic of the changes that the Board has proposed to the Illinois List of Threatened and Endangered Species; if you wish to discus any other matters, we will be happy to talk to you at another time.
6) We are here to listen to comments from the public, not to engage in debate regarding any of those comments.

C) Written Comments:

1) The hearing record will remain open for 14 days
2) Submit written comments to:

Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271

Or e-mail comments to:

3) ALL comments must be received by the Board on or before February 6, 2004.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we should carefully think about which battles we want to fight re: endangered species. If we never remove a species from the endangered species list (upgrade to threatened) we are basically saying that our conservation efforts are not working at all. Whether it's been recovery of its former range, a movement northward due to global warming, or adaptation to a changing environment, there is no doubt that the Mississippi Kite's population is on an upswing and the species is increasing in almost (all?) of its range. It's a conservation success story but I doubt humans had much to do with its recovery other than protection by the Migratory Bird treaty Act. Since it has expanded its range, continues to increase in population, and has adapted to living in human-dominated ecosystems like golf courses and urban parks, I think we do the endangered species act (state) a disservice but not upgrading it to threatened and concentrating (i.e. funding truly endangered species projects) on species like Swainson's Warbler that are still endangered in Illinois. In summary the Mississippi Kite has recovered all of its historic range throughout the USA (except in localized areas where bottomland forests were leveled for agriculture), has bred as far north as New Hamshire (2008!) and Des Moines, continues to expand its range northward and westward into the Southwest and Colorado, and hardly fits the description of an endangered species in Illinois or anywhere else. Let's declare a victory on this species and focus on species that really need help.

That said, I think it is premature to upgrade or delist Henslow's Sparrow due to the tremendous loss of grassland and meadow habitat the past two years throughout the Midwest due to corn production for ethanol. Looking at this species from a Midwest regional focus I think we should be very cautious about any upgrading unless CRP lands are greatly increased in the future rather than the large decrease which has occurred and which the new farm bill does not aduquately provide for. Bob Russell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3, Twin Cities, Minnesota