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IDNR cuts affect services at Starved Rock State Park       Send a link to a friend

From the Starved Rock Foundation

[JAN. 8, 2005]  UTICA -- Starved Rock State Park is located in LaSalle County and is visited by people from throughout the state, country and world.

As elected directors of the board of the Starved Rock Historical & Educational Foundation, we are outraged at the layoff of the national resource coordinator, the resulting elimination of two seasonal site interpreters and the reduction in force of other park staff at Starved Rock State Park.

The Starved Rock Historical & Educational Foundation is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. The purpose of the foundation is to facilitate the visitor center program, which includes education, conservation and recreation. We raise moneys through membership, donations and profits from our 100 percent volunteer-run LeRocher Book Shop.

During 2004, the foundation's volunteer program, with over 115 participants logging 4,731 hours, also provided hike leaders, trail walkers, information desk workers and raised over $15,000 for benches around the visitor center, materials, equipment and programs.

Starved Rock State Park is the jewel of the Illinois State Park system and a major source of revenue for the state and LaSalle County. When Gov. Blagojevich was in Utica after the 2004 tornado, he promised to help rebuild the city and bring back tourists. These cuts are contrary to the promise he made to the people of Utica. It makes no sense when other organizations are striving to promote tourism in this area that the Department of Natural Resources has to cut programs and staff at one of the major tourist attractions in the Midwest. This park is not merely a state park but an international attraction. In the last five years visitors have come from all 50 states and over 84 countries from six continents!

When planning the $4,500,000, 12,000-square-foot visitor center, it was agreed by all, including those in Springfield, that it would be staffed with three site interpreters, three seasonal interpreters, one clerical and one maintenance person. That staffing plan was never implemented. Starved Rock has lost six of 21 full-time employees since 2000. The visitor center will lose three of its four staff as of Jan. 14 and will be down to a single employee!

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The Band-Aid approach of taking others away from their already understaffed positions and bringing them in to staff the visitor center is ludicrous! The loss of the positions at the park, which limit hours and personnel, will have a direct effect on more than 240,000 visitors, including all school groups, guided hikes and special events. Of the 87 Department of Natural Resources layoffs, which are tragic, this layoff will have a greater effect than the other 86 layoffs combined.

Since the visitor center was opened in 2002, at least three paid positions have served the educational, informational and safety needs of up to 6,000 visitors a day. A single employee in the visitor center cannot adequately meet the needs of the public. Special events cannot be run with this reduction in staff.

Volunteers are here to supplement, not replace permanent staff! Therefore, foundation members and volunteers will not be available to work special events until the needs and safety of the public are met by reinstating the positions at the visitor center.

Yes, the state of Illinois is in dire straits, but an exception needs to be made at Starved Rock State Park. Please contact our government officials.


Board of directors
Starved Rock Foundation

Pam Grivetti, president
Shirley Pierson, secretary
Kathy Despain, treasurer
Cindy Hopps, director
Brenda Schroeder, director

Life Sentence, No Parole

If we tried to invent the cruelest punishment for dogs, we probably couldn't come up with anything worse than "solitary confinement" on a chain or in a kennel.

Dogs are pack animals who crave the companionship of others.  Scratches behind the ears, games of fetch, or even just walks around the block mean the world to them.  Curling up at your feet while you watch TV is their idea of heaven.

Many dogs left to fend for themselves at the end of a chain fall prey to attacks by other animals or cruel people, and many others are injured or hanged or choke as a result of getting entangled or caught in their tether.

If you have a backyard dog, please, bring him or her inside.  They don't want much--just you.

A public service announcement from Lincoln Daily News and

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