Under the plan, the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources will plant the trees,
mainly on state-owned lands, and launch a Youth Conservation Corps,
a summer work program focused on enlisting young people in
stewardship projects to protect and enhance natural areas. In
addition, the Illinois Department of Transportation will provide
grants to assist local communities in planting native trees and
grasses along roadways. By trapping carbon dioxide in plants and
soil, all three components of the governor's Replanting the Prairie
State initiative will help meet his goal to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.
"Planting more trees
and prairie grasses will not only make our communities more
beautiful and livable, it can also help us tackle one of the most
serious threats facing our world," Blagojevich said. "Engaging young
people in these efforts will help preserve our state's natural
heritage and help grow the next generation of environmental leaders
who will guide our nation to a cleaner, more sustainable future."
Planting 2 million additional native trees annually, such as burr
oak, sugar maple, American elm and cottonwood, will absorb
approximately 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere annually by 2020, equivalent to taking 36,000 cars off
the road. The program, to be administered by IDNR's Nursery
Reforestation Program, will help restore and preserve forests and
grasslands while also limiting further incursion of non-native trees
and other plants that threaten indigenous species.
Additional native trees and prairie grasses will be planted
statewide through the Illinois Department of Transportation's new
Illinois Green Streets initiative. Beginning this summer, IDOT will
direct $5 million in federal transportation funds to provide
matching grants to municipalities and local governments for planting
trees and prairie grasses along highways and major streets to
beautify communities and further reduce greenhouse gasses. IDOT will
administer funds through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement
To help further protect and enhance Illinois' natural areas, the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources will create the Illinois
Conservation Training Corps, a 12-week summer employment program for
up to 120 young people ages 16-19. Corps members will work alongside
IDNR professional staff to plant trees, control exotic species,
restore prairies, collect seeds and assist IDNR staff on projects
such as species inventory and surveys, vegetation mapping, and
research. These activities will help preserve and improve natural
areas, including habitats for endangered and threatened species,
high-quality natural communities, wetlands, and other properties
exhibiting unique or unusual natural heritage qualities. In addition
to the environmental and climate-change benefits, the Conservation
Corps will help prepare students for future work in conservation and
natural resource-related fields.
"Adding trees and other native foliage will help reduce
greenhouse gases while restoring habitats and beautifying
communities," said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. "Providing new
opportunities for young people and local communities to participate
in these efforts will deliver great benefits when it comes to
protecting our natural heritage."
"IDOT is very pleased to be able to offer communities across
Illinois a chance to beautify their streetscapes by planting trees
and native grasses along local roadways," said IDOT Acting Secretary
Milt Sees. "We believe the Illinois Green Streets Initiative will
not only help our environment and improve air quality, but will also
improve the quality of life throughout the state."
The state is also expanding tree planting by the private sector
through the Illinois Conservation and Climate Initiative, a
partnership developed by the Illinois Environmental Protection
Agency. Through the initiative, Illinois companies pay farmers and
other landowners to plant trees and grasses in order to offset
greenhouse gas emissions the companies emit. Illinois is the only
state government to offer farmers and other landowners the
opportunity to earn and sell greenhouse gas emissions credits by
adopting conservation practices.
The first annual payments, totaling nearly $300,000, will be made
this year to 190 Illinois landowners who have planted more than 2
million trees on 8,500 acres. The payments help cover the costs for
planting and maintaining trees and grasses that also benefit the
environment by creating wildlife habitat and limiting soil and
nutrient runoff to streams and lakes.
Carbon credits are sold on the Chicago Climate Exchange, North
America's only, and the world's first, greenhouse gas emissions
registry, reduction and trading system. As part of the state's
global warming initiative, Illinois joined New Mexico to become only
the second state in the nation to join the Chicago Climate Exchange.
As a CCX member, the state makes a voluntary, but legally binding,
commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from state buildings
and vehicle fleets.
"We are all proud of how our farmers and other landowners and
private businesses in Illinois are stepping up to the plate to be
part of the solution to the challenge of global warming," said
Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott.
[to top of second column]
Sunday's announcement builds on steps already taken by
Blagojevich to establish Illinois as a national leader in addressing
climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions:
In February 2007,
Blagojevich announced a statewide goal to slash the production
of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and 60
percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The governor charged the
Climate Change Advisory Group with recommending strategies to
meet these reduction goals. The advisory group, convened by the
governor, is comprised of business leaders, labor unions, the
energy and agricultural industries, scientists, and
environmental and consumer groups from throughout the state. The
group will meet over a six-month period to identify measures to
cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gases and make
recommendations to the governor.
In February 2007,
Blagojevich joined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and
executives from BP to launch the Energy Biosciences Institute,
to be based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
and the University of California Berkeley. The $500 million
effort, funded by BP, will invest in research next-generation
homegrown biofuels made from crops that will cut greenhouse gas
emissions, boost America's energy independence and create new
markets for Illinois farmers.
In January 2007,
Blagojevich celebrated final approval of rules he introduced to
dramatically improve air quality and protect public health by
dramatically slashing mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide
emissions from the three largest coal-fired power plant
companies in Illinois: Midwest Generation, Ameren and Dynegy.
The agreements include commitments to shut down three of the
oldest, least efficient boiler units, leading to a reduction of
2.1 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Blagojevich announced his global warming initiative to combat
global climate change. As part of the governor's global warming
initiative, Illinois joined New Mexico to become only the second
state in the nation to join the Chicago Climate Exchange. As a
CCX member, the state makes a voluntary, but legally binding,
commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from state
buildings and vehicle fleets.
Blagojevich announced an ambitious plan to meet the state's
energy needs by investing in wind power and cleaner-burning
renewable fuels that will cut greenhouse gas emissions. The plan
also includes a proposed pipeline to help capture carbon dioxide
emissions from new coal gasification plants.
Last July, the governor announced that the state of Illinois
would begin powering 141 Springfield-based facilities under his
control with clean, renewable wind energy purchased from
Springfield's municipal utility company, City Water Light and Power.
In early 2006,
Illinois launched the Illinois Conservation Climate Initiative
in partnership with the Chicago Climate Exchange and the Delta
Institute. The initiative offers farmers and other landowners
the opportunity to earn and sell greenhouse gas emission
reduction credits through the Chicago Climate Exchange when they
take steps to trap carbon dioxide and reduce methane emissions
by using conservation tillage and planting grasses and trees.
These practices keep carbon in the soil and plants instead of
being released as carbon dioxide. Illinois is the first state to
sponsor such a program.
The state has
taken numerous steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its
vehicle fleet and to expand the availability and use of cleaner
burning biofuels, including:
overall number of state vehicles by 11 percent, from 13,635 in
2003 to 12,100 now.
number of flex-fuel vehicles, which can run on gasoline or 85
percent ethanol fuel, in the state fleet from 1,339 in 2000 (10
percent of fleet), to 1,944 now (16 percent of fleet).
Increasing the use
of renewable and cleaner-burning ethanol and biodiesel in the
state fleet. More than 1 million gallons of biofuels have been
consumed by state vehicles since April 2004.
The record demand
for E85 in the state's fleet has helped make Illinois a national
leader in the commercial availability of biofuels. State grants
are made to gas station owners for converting their fuel pumps
to E85. Since 2004, the number of Illinois gas stations selling
E85 has increased tenfold, from 14 to 140.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]