"The Conservation 2000 program provides
grant funds as well as technical support to local partnerships for
land acquisition, habitat restoration, research and outreach
projects," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director
Joel Brunsvold. "Working as a team with diverse local interests has
been key to the program's success. Local Resource Conservation and
Development councils are some of the many local groups the
department works with to enhance and protect Illinois' watersheds."
Ed Weilbacher, the Southwestern
Illinois Resource Conservation and Development Council coordinator
who nominated Conservation 2000 for the award, said the program
doesn't use a one-size-fits-all approach but rather responds to
ideas and proposals generated from local groups and individuals.
"The Conservation 2000 Ecosystem
Program is a natural fit for RC&Ds to participate in and to work
with others to secure the resources to implement the programs needed
in a local area," Weilbacher said.
National Association of Resource Conservation and Development
Councils is an advocacy organization that assists the 375 local
Resource Conservation and Development councils nationwide as they
carry out natural resource protection and rural development programs
in their local areas. Since their establishment in 1962, the
councils have been working with local, state, and federal agencies
and organizations to implement projects to improve land
conservation, community development, land management and water
[to top of second column in
Since its inception in 1995, the C2000
Ecosystems Program has awarded more than $28.7 million in grants,
which leveraged an additional $31.5 million in matching funds and
in-kind donations for a total of $60.2 million for 705 projects
throughout the state. More than 62,000 acres of habitat has been
restored, over 6,200 acres has been acquired through conservation
easement or purchase, and more than 400,000 citizens have been
educated on the benefits of habitat restoration and protection. The
program currently provides assistance to 40 Ecosystem Partnerships
covering 84 percent of Illinois' landscape.
dominated the national awards, with the Southwestern Illinois RC&D
winning National Council of the Year honors and Patrick McVeigh of
the Interstate RC&D being named National Member of the Year.
Department of Natural Resources news release]