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[JUNE 11, 2004]  From the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

Illinois' Free Fishing Days celebration is June 11-14, when Illinois anglers can fish without purchasing an annual fishing license, inland trout stamp or salmon stamp. Illinois' Free Fishing Days are hosted annually by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with sponsorship support from Illinois-based Plano Molding Co., the world's largest manufacturer of fishing tackle boxes. For more information on Free Fishing Days events in Illinois, call (217) 785-8955 or send an e-mail request to

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The Hennepin Canal was just added to the National Recreation Trails System designation. Spanning 96 linear miles and five counties, the Hennepin Canal Parkway is a multiuse trail system that takes people through the rolling agricultural land of the western north-central part of Illinois. The parkway allows for a variety of recreational activities along a historically significant resource, the nation's first canal constructed of concrete and the model for the Panama Canal. Within this unique setting, there are ample opportunities for biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding and canoeing.

The National Recreation Trails System is a network of trails created to provide for outdoor recreation needs; promote the enjoyment, appreciation and preservation of open-air outdoor areas and historic resources; and encourage public access and citizen involvement. The system is administered by the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service with support from the lead nonprofit partner, American Trails.

To be nominated for designation as part of the National Recreation Trails System, a trail must be open to public use for at least 10 years after designation and must be designed, constructed and maintained according to best management practices and in compliance with applicable land use plans and environmental laws.

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The Department of Natural Resources is celebrating the opening of the Interurban Trail, a nearly seven-mile trail between Springfield and Chatham in central Illinois. The $1.3 million bicycle and pedestrian trail was completed with more than $500,000 of assistance from the Department of Natural Resources. The trail, named after the old Interurban Railroad line, will be operated and maintained by the Springfield Park District and the village of Chatham.

The trail was completed as the result of a strong partnership between the local communities, Woodside Township, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the Department of Natural Resources. A portion of the trail contains an experimental asphalt and recycled rubber tire mix funded by a grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

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Joe Kath, terrestrial endangered species project manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and his research about bats were the focus of a recent issue of Smithsonian Magazine. Kath has been involved in a project at the Magazine Mine, near Tamms in southern Illinois, which is home to a number of bat species, including the endangered Indiana bat. The Magazine Mine is one of more than 1,000 former U.S. mines that have been turned into bat sanctuaries since 1994.

In his post at the Department of Natural Resources, Kath develops endangered and threatened species management and recovery plans and the issuance of endangered species possession and research permits throughout Illinois. He also coordinates much of the bat-related field study for the Department of Natural Resources.

Kath currently serves as co-chairman of the Midwest Bat Group, which is comprised of 10 Midwestern and Eastern states involved in bat conservation. He also serves on the executive steering committee for the North American Bat Conservation Partnership and is a steering committee member of the U.S. Geological Survey's project that monitors trends in U.S. bat populations.

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Reconstruction of the scenic boardwalk and overlook at Castle Rock State Park has won a 2004 Public Works Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association. The project was designed for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Capital Development Board by RJN Group Consulting Engineers of Wheaton. The $780,000 project was completed in mid-2003. The American Public Works Association is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 26,000 members involved in the field of public works.

Castle Rock State Park is located three miles south of Oregon, Ill., on Highway 2. The park is centrally located in the Rock River Hills region of Illinois, and its rolling topography is drained by the Rock River. The park is along the west bank of the Rock River in Ogle County and is very representative of the Rock River Hills area, with rock formations, ravines and unique northern plant associations. A sandstone bluff adjacent to the river has given the park its name.

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Proposed changes to a number of administrative rules for the Department of Natural Resources are available for public comment. For information about the proposals, check

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The Natural Resources Advisory Board will meet June 24 at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Brandywine in Peoria. The meeting is open to the public, with time allotted for comment on any topic. An agenda item of interest to waterfowl hunters is the recommendations for the September Canada goose and teal hunting seasons. The Natural Resources Advisory Board is a 13-member board appointed by the governor to advise the Department of Natural Resources on long-range policies. For more information call (217) 782-4963.

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There's still time to register for the first Chicagoland Fishing Rodeo for People with Disabilities. The event will be at William Powers Conservation Area on Saturday, June 19. The Chicagoland Fishing Rodeo -- sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Conservation Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation and Wheelin' Sportsmen -- will give people of all ages with physical or mental disabilities an opportunity to fish for free.

Interested anglers are required to bring a personal assistant. All necessary fishing equipment will be provided. There is no charge for the event, which is slated to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 19. A free lunch will be provided at 11:30 a.m. for all participants and their assistants. Interested participants must register in advance by calling William Powers Conservation Area at (773) 646-3270 or TTY (217) 782-9175.

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"Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?" is the next Super Saturday program in A Place for Discovery at the Illinois State Museum. Come and join us Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the grand unveiling of the new natural history exhibit, "Changes: Dynamic Illinois Environments."

Illinois has many interesting animals living here today. But what about animals that no longer exist? Learn about the Jefferson's ground sloth and the giant short-faced bear that once roamed our state. Also discover today's endangered animals such as the gray bat and the Illinois mud turtle, and learn what you can do to help save them. For more information call (217) 782-6044.

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' 2004 Volunteer Projects Directory, listing volunteer opportunities statewide, is now available. Project listings are wide-ranging and are at state parks, the Illinois State Museum, fishing clinics, safety education courses, youth hunting programs and through the statewide EcoWatch network. Opportunities include serving as a campground host, helping to maintain hiking trails, working on invasive plant control, installing and monitoring waterfowl and bird nesting boxes, seed and acorn collection, and assisting visitors. Thousands of volunteers provide hundreds of thousands of hours of their time to the department each year. To receive a copy of the directory or to become involved, call (217) 782-4963 or visit The projects directory is also available online. [To download the Adobe Acrobat reader for the directory, click here.]

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The 24-page activity booklet "Illinois Common Birds" is now ready for distribution. Eighteen species of birds are featured with coloring pages and information. Bird characteristics and facts are included along with more student activities. The free booklet was developed by the Division of Education of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and is designed to be a companion to the "Illinois Common Birds" poster. Both items may be requested by e-mailing or calling (217) 524-4126. Please allow two to three weeks for delivery.

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"Illinois Insects" is the latest entry in the Illinois flora, fauna and habitats series of posters. This 24-inch-by-36-inch two-sided poster features color images of 24 insect species on the front. The back of the poster provides species descriptions for these insects, as well as more insect-related information. To order, contact the IDNR Division of Education by e-mail,, or phone (217) 524-4126. Please allow two to three weeks for delivery.


[to top of second column in this article]

New free DVD: Take your students on a tour of Illinois' natural heritage without leaving the classroom with this DVD from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The "Exploring Illinois' Natural Resources" DVD contains five videos that can be used as supplemental resources in a variety of ways.

  • "Aquatic Illinois," 14:06 minutes, targeted for grades 5-9
  • "Biodiversity of Illinois," 19:14 minutes, grades 5-10
  • "Illinois Birds," 11:01 minutes, grades 4-6
  • "Kids for Trees," 8:30 minutes, grades K-3
  • "Wild Mammals of Illinois," 11:17 minutes, grades 4-6

This free DVD is available to Illinois teachers. Please send requests on school letterhead to the following address: IDNR - Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271. For more information, contact the IDNR Division of Education at or (217) 524-4126.

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Project WILD, Project WILD Aquatic, Project Learning Tree and Project WET workshops for educators are being offered throughout Illinois in the coming months. Continuing professional development units are available to participating teachers. To learn more about these programs, visit or contact Randy Wiseman at or (217) 524-4126.

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Registration still open for several Illinois ENTICE workshops: In the coming months the Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education program is sponsoring a variety of workshops for educators. All workshops offer continuing professional development units for teachers. Workshops are free, and participants will be provided with many classroom-ready educational materials. The registration deadline has been extended for open workshops and will remain open until they are filled. More detailed information about each workshop and a registration form can be found at [To download the Adobe Acrobat reader for the form, click here.]

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Bring a sack lunch and join anthropology curator Dr. Jonathan E. Reyman on Wednesday, June 16, at noon for a brown-bag art gallery talk featuring the exhibition "Where Animals Dance: Art of Africa" at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. The snake, hornbill bird, guinea hen, antelope, crocodile, baboon and bush cow are just some of the animals represented in the African art on display in the exhibition, which includes masks, musical instruments, textiles and other objects from the museum's African collection. Reyman will discuss the relationship and significance of animals and dance in African society. Tables will be provided in the gallery for brown-bag lunching.

This program is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required, but seating is limited. For more information about this or any other museum event, please call Jennifer Kuehner at (217) 782-5993.

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The Illinois State Museum's Summer Festival of Films offers free, quality, educational films this summer for children. The weekly one-hour program is presented each Monday and Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. through Aug. 17 in the Thorne Deuel Auditorium, located on the museum's lower level. Film topics include animals, dinosaurs, volcanoes, insects, nature, travel, art and more. A different selection of films is shown each week. Each program concludes with a cartoon. The Summer Festival of Films is especially recommended for nursery school classes, day-care groups and families. For groups of 10 or more, please call (217) 782-5993 for reservations.

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The Illinois Conservation Foundation will join local volunteers in hosting the annual Luke Memorial Hospice Sporting Clays Benefit, scheduled for Saturday, June 19, at the Randolph County Conservation Area, just north of Chester. Proceeds from the sporting clays shoot will benefit both the Illinois Conservation Foundation's youth shooting-sports programs and Luke Memorial Hospice in Pinckneyville, serving residents of southern and southwest Illinois.

Sign-up for the event begins at 7:15 a.m., with flights scheduled for 8 and 10 a.m. Each flight is limited to 75 shooters. The entry fee is just $40 per shooter, which includes the shoot, food and refreshments. For more information, contact Jon Knop, 4584 Rockcastle Road, Steeleville, IL 62288; phone (618) 965-3666.

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The Department of Defense recently presented the Illinois Waste Management and Research Center with an award of appreciation. The award recognizes the pollution prevention and waste reduction efforts of the center through its participation with the Illinois Department of Defense Environmental Partnership. The Waste Management and Research Center, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, assists Illinois industries, businesses and citizens in preventing prevent the formation of, reducing and managing waste.

The Department of Defense specifically cited the Waste Management and Research Center for its development of a weapons and parts cleaning system that uses water-based cleaning systems, replacing the traditional hydrocarbon-based cleaning systems. This reduced and even eliminated generation of hazardous wastes. The center also conducted pollution prevention opportunity assessments at all Department of Defense facilities. One of those assessments led to a reduction in mercury use at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center's medical and dental facilities. The Department of Defense also recognized the Waste Management and Research Center for the ongoing research services it provides to the Illinois DoD Environmental Partnership and similar partnerships in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The Illinois DoD Environmental Partnership was founded in 1997 by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Waste Management Research Center, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and the Department of Defense. It is designed to implement pollution prevention measures, conserve resources, foster community well-being, and enhance mission readiness at Department of Defense facilities in the state.

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A striking photo of a 12-spotted skimmer dragonfly graces the cover of the June Outdoor Illinois issue. The life and times of the fierce (to insects) but gentle (to people) aerial predators are highlighted in the magazine. The expanded-edition issue features an eight-page fishing insert designed to help young and beginning anglers learn about the sport of fishing. Also included are stories about North Point Marina on Lake Michigan, boating safety, the training of a conservation police officer, fisheries research, perch fishing, rare plants and a special outdoor essay on the price of freedom.

Don't forget to stop by the Outdoor Illinois gift shop for the latest in fishing guides, bicycle trail books and fashions for the even youngest outdoor enthusiast. Subscribers also receive a special 10 percent coupon toward the purchase of gift shop items by filling out a survey found online at

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There's a new concessionaire at Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park. The concession will sell food, confections, hot and cold nonalcoholic beverages; rent boats, canoes, paddle boats and boating equipment; and sell bait, fishing, picnic and camping supplies.

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Wet May and warm spring rank among top 10 in Illinois

Illinois just had the eighth wettest May and the seventh warmest spring since 1895, according to Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Rainfall during May throughout the state averaged 7.52 inches, 176 percent of normal. Temperatures this spring averaged 54.8 degrees, 2.7 degrees above normal.

The National Weather Service calls for equal chances of above-normal, below-normal and normal precipitation, with a slightly increased chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures this summer in southeastern Illinois.

Angel says that, historically, wet, warm springs do not necessarily mean wet or warm summers. Still, this abundant soil moisture should provide a buffer against any dry spells this summer.

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Spots still remain for the Illinois Conservation Foundation's Sam Romano Lake Michigan fishing tournament, scheduled for June 22 at Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club. Cost is $1,000 per five-person boat. For more information contact Bob Ruff at (217) 782-7181.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources
news release]

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