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Conservation 2000 Ecosystems Program wins national award     Send a link to a friend

[MARCH 11, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Conservation 2000 Ecosystems Program recently won national honors. The program received the National Supporting Organization of the Year Award from the National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils.

"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.

The 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 management.

 

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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.

Illinois 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.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]

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