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Recent entries


Through the Lens

Proposed IDNR Operating Budget Released

Tue, February 20, 2018

With the release of Governor Rauner’s FY19 proposed operating budget also comes the release of the proposed operating budget for IDNR.  In order to view the proposed budget, click here and go to page 262 of the overall document.  Proposed Operating Budget. I will warn you – it can be a bit mind boggling and may make you feel like your eyes are bleeding before you get all the way through the IDNR section, but it’s worth looking at to get an idea of previous years compared with the proposed budget and to learn what’s being proposed.

Some items of note in the proposed 2019 IDNR budget:
*A 1.5% increase from FY18 that would support a Conservation Officer Trainee class which will be required due to retirement and the current declining numbers of CPO’s in the field.

*Fully funds an historic preservation department which the IDNR acquired during 2017.

*Hunting and fishing licenses will remain the same price for FY19 while maintaining operations of all state parks and campgrounds.

*Continues to fund grants and programs that were included in the fiscal year 2018 budget.

The proposed budget also recommends fiscal year 2019 additional capital spending authority to finish out prior year obligations is included, such as:

*$25 million in authority to fund previous years’ awards for the Museum Grant program

*$64 million to continue prior year grants from the Park and Recreational Facilities (PARC) program

*$30.5 million is included for Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) projects, including $15.0 million for new projects in fiscal year 2019.

The Governor also proposed a Capital Budget for the IDNR.  The Capital Budget addresses appropriations for assets that have a long-term useful life, such as buildings, highways, underground or surface infrastructure, durable equipment and land. Capital appropriations may span multiple fiscal years. The IDNR Capitol Appropriations Budget is found here begging on page 56. 

In recent years there have been no capital budget appropriations for IDNR. We’ve clearly seen how the lack of a capitol plan and appropriations adversely affected our IDNR properties.  Routine maintenance was deferred. Properties and infrastructure within those properties deteriorated rapidly.  A fully funded capital budget in FY19 would allow the agency to address the $24 million plus backlog in maintenance and site improvements that have been identified. These specific needs are found on page 57.
The proposed Capital Budget provides funding for:

*Pay-as-you-go appropriations allowing the department to carry out projects and programming that are both core to its mission and can allow for federal match or reimbursement.

*The continuation of prior year outdoor grant projects, flood hazard mitigation buyouts, mined lands reclamation, recreational trail and water resources programming.

*Additional spending authority to finish previously awarded projects

How well this budget will be received and what IDNR will end up with by the time all is said and done remains to be seen. For now, let’s just hope that our IDNR will be adequately funded in FY19.


Fight the Flu with Elderberries!

Fri, January 19, 2018

If you haven’t experienced the wickedness that is year’s go around with the flu, consider yourself very lucky.  I won’t reiterate all the ways to help prevent it that the mainstream news media has been throwing at us left and right, I think we all have a pretty good grasp of the importance of handwashing, covering our sneezes and coughs, and staying away from those who are ill.

Tamiflu is frequently prescribed for those with the flu, and some physicians are even prescribing it as a preventive for others in the household who have yet to contract the flu, but there is a cheaper, easier, and non-pharmaceutical way to also treat the flu, winter ick, colds right under noses – ELDERBERRIES!

Elderberries/Elderberry syrup have been proven to work exceptionally well in the treatment of influenza, in controlled double blind scientific studies. Seems that when our grandmas and grandpas insisted that we have a little bit of elderberry wine or syrup each winter were indeed onto something, and it truly does make a good preventative.

Elderberries naturally contain A, B, and C and stimulate the immune system. Researchers found that the complex sugars in elderberries support the immune system in fighting cold and flu. Commercially multiple companies have developed formulas based on these complex sugars that have been clinically shown to help reduce the duration and discomforts of all kinds of winter ick and flu.

Elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. Taken before infection, it prevents infection. Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract.

While commercial preparations are handy, they can be a little pricey, and with just a little time and effort you can easily make your own elderberry syrup that’s just as effective.

I always make a few batches of the syrup each year when harvesting elderberries for jelly, jam, wine etc.  and, either freeze or dry extra elderberries to use throughout the winter. I personally like to stir a tablespoon or so each day into my juice, hot tea, or even on my pancakes as preventive measure in the winter. Once a case of the ick or the flu hits I up it several times a day.

If you don’t happen to have elderberries in the freezer or any dried ones stored, you can buy any number of commercial preparations as well. If you are lucky enough to have elderberries in the freezer or dried – consider making up a batch!

Dried elderberries can also be purchased at various health food stores or online. Just run a simple search for dried elderberries and you’ll be surprised by the number of shops that offer them in bulk.

Here’s the recipe – Don’t forget late this summer, when elderberries start to ripen – be sure to head out and harvest enough to make few batches!

You can take daily for its immune boosting properties, or reserve for the periods of the creeping crud.

Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp. to 1 Tbsp. for adults. If the flu/crud does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

elderberry syrup recipe


Stay Warm With Field and Stream’s True Pursuit Line

Thu, January 18, 2018

With this year’s unusually long lasting and unusually cold weather, many of us have been scrambling to find warm outdoor attire.  Luckily for me, Field and Stream generously provided me with an insulated coat and pants from their women’s True Pursuit line to field test.

Truth be told, Field and Stream provided me with the coat and pants to field test at the beginning of the season, but my early months in the field were just as unseasonably warm as the more recent weeks have been unseasonably cold. Finally, the weather took a dive and I could really put the stylish, functional, and affordable set to the test in the field.

The first thing I noticed was how light the garments were, not bulky and heavy like so many insulated hunting clothes. I hate bulky insulated clothing – I have enough of Michelin Man shape without adding more bulk to my fluffy self in clothing. Vanity aside, heavy bulky insulated outdoor wear just makes everything a bit more difficult and restricts movement.

There is none of that nonsense in the Field and Stream True Pursuit insulated jacket or pants for women. Both pieces are light, not at all bulky, soft, and provide plenty ease in movement.  While one might wonder if an insulated set this light could actually be as warm as advertised – do not fear – Field and Stream knocks it out of the park on warmth with these pieces.

Both items sport Field and Stream’s Wind Defense technology as well as Field and Stream’s Hydro Proof Ultra breathable waterproof fabric.  I purposely forced myself out into the howling winds that were resulting in wind chills in the minus 10-20F range to put the ensemble to the test on its claims of blocking frigid air and gusts that seem to often creep in through other fabrics in these conditions.

I STAYED WARM! The Wind Defense technology does truly work. For most of my test I was in temps that ranged between 0 and 15 degrees with some nasty wind chills, and yet I did not get cold. I was wearing fleece leggings and the Field & Stream Women’s C3 Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt and a lightweight hoodie as layers under the coat and pants and was truly impressed with this pairings ability to block the cold winds, repel the snow and sleet, and most of all keep me warm in the bitterest cold without feeling like I was carrying around 15 pounds of insulated clothing.

The second area where Field and Stream really shines is comfort and fit. The most technical and functional masterpieces of hunting attire are totally useless to me if they don’t fit well and aren’t comfortable throughout the day.  I was blown away by the comfort of the Field & Stream Women’s Every Hunt Softshell Hunting Pants when I field tested them, and the True Pursuit line offers the same level of all day comfort.

Let’s have a look at what’s offered up in these pieces that should be in every outdoors woman’s winter closet.

Field and Stream True Persuit Women's Insulated Hunting Jacket

Field and Stream True Pursuit Women’s Insulated Hunting Jacket:

• Specifically trimmed for female hunters – don’t be afraid – there is no garish pink or lime green, just some subtle yet stylish dark burgundy trim, and the cut is such to flattering yet comfortable for the female form.
• HydroProof™ Ultra provides breathable waterproof coverage – snow and sleet brushed right off, I stayed dry in some near blizzard like conditions.
• Fully seam-sealed – no annoying little leaks of cold air or moisture
• WindDefense™ windproof technology fully blocks cold air and gusts – Again, this was impressive in the frigid December winds – they simply did not penetrate this fabric.
• Lined brushed tricot body retains heat – Again, comfortable, and warm. I had no problems staying warm throughout the day on all day excursions.
• Taffeta-lined sleeves help with easy on/off – makes layering a breeze. None of that annoying having other layers sleeves wadded up halfway.
• 2 hand pockets and 2 cargo pockets – good deep pockets, with zippers so that you don’t leave a trail or lose items out of them when climbing, hiking, bending etc.
• Adjustable cuffs, hood, and hem – All three can be cinched to individual comfort and to assist with keeping out those darn drafts and cold air leaks.
• Safety harness opening in back – An absolute essential for any winter coat. This enables one to comfortably wear the safety harness under the coat and stay plenty toasty in the stand.

Field and Stream True Pursuit Women’s Insulated Pants

• Specifically trimmed for female hunters – again nothing overtly girlish or glaring. Just enough to take you from the field to grocery store, and still look stylish.
• HydroProof™ Ultra provides breathable waterproof coverage – no wet behinds with this technology!
• Fully seam-sealed – no leaky seams to let in moisture or cold air
• WindDefense™ windproof technology fully blocks cold air and gusts – again can’t stress enough how well this technology works!
• Lined brushed tricot body retains heat – toasty, with just fleece leggings under them as base layer
• Zippered leg openings – long enough to make getting those knee boots on and off a breeze without having to remove the pants.
• 2 zippered hand pockets – I confess; I am huge fan of zippers on pockets and these not only feature zippers they are large enough to easily get your hand in and out of and have plenty of room for whatever you might choose to safely stow.
• Rib-knit waistband – this is another shining example of how well Field and Stream address the fit and comfort for women’s hunting attire. The waist band has plenty of give for adding extra layers (or pounds!) Yet stays snug, doesn’t roll and is wide enough to be very comfortable.

All in all, I must give this set a full five stars.  The line is affordable, well made, lives up to it’s claims. The comfort factor is high, and the fit is super – it’s designed not for the Barbie Doll set, but for real average sized women hunters.

We still have some bitter cold months ahead, so go to your local Dick’s Sporting Goods store, or visit their website and invest in this great set of cold weather battling coat and pants. You won’t be disappointed.


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