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Heartland Outdoors

Final late-winter deer season ahead

Mon, January 09, 2017

Hunters are reminded that the Late-Winter Antlerless-only and Special CWD deer hunting seasons conclude on Jan. 13-15.  There will be 24 counties open for Late-Winter season and 14 counties open for the Special CWD season on those dates.  Hunters should check the information page on the IDNR website to make sure the county they intend to hunt is open for the Late-Winter or Special CWD season: https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/Late-WinterSHAHuntingPermitInformation.pdf


2017 Illinois licenses available Jan. 16

Mon, January 09, 2017

Illinois fishing, hunting and sportsman’s combination licenses for 2017 will be available starting Jan. 16 from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, online through the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov, or by calling 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648). The automated license system is available 24 hours a day. The 2017 licenses purchased beginning Jan. 16 will be valid through Mar. 31, 2018, unless otherwise noted.


IDNR spending $1 million on trails

Tue, December 27, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor Bruce Rauner today announced $1,019,200 in grant funding for multi-purpose recreational trail projects that will create or improve trails in six Illinois counties. Funding for the projects is supported by the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Recreational Trails Program.

“Our trails showcase all the beauty Illinois has to offer,” Governor Rauner said. “Whether you’re enjoying them with family and friends or your pets it’s a great opportunity to explore our state. These grants will improve access to our trails across Illinois.”

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grants provide up to 80 percent of the cost of the trail projects.  RTP grants may be awarded for the acquisition of land from willing sellers, for trail construction and rehabilitation, restoration of areas damaged by unauthorized trail uses, construction of trail-related support facilities such as picnic areas, parking and restrooms, and for educational programs.

The grant program is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

“These grants will help create and improve outdoor experiences for the people of Illinois.  Getting people to enjoy everything the state, and the Department of Natural Resources has to offer, is why working partnerships like this with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration are great,” said Wayne Rosenthal, director for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“We are pleased to partner with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in this important effort to improve trails in Illinois,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “We are confident these grants will enhance the quality of life in our communities and make Illinois an even better place to live, work and play.”

The RTP grant projects are listed below.

Motorized Projects

Saline County - The Williams Hill Pass Association will receive $42,500 in grant money to be used for trail maintenance in Saline County.  It will allow for maintenance and restoration for the association’s 25-mile OHV system, as well as help upgrade trailhead facilities, security, and promotional programming.

McHenry County - The McHenry County Snowmobile Association will receive a grant of $37,600 to help purchase a tractor and snowmobile trail groomer in McHenry County.  The equipment will be used to help maintain public snowmobile trails.

McHenry County - The Wonder Lake Lakers/Sno-Bugs Snowmobile Club will receive a $24,800 grant to be used for a UTV update in McHenry County.  It will allow the club to replace a 1996 Kawasaki Mule with tracks, and it is to be used for trail inspections and maintenance.

Non-Motorized Projects

Winnebago County - The Rockford Park District will receive a grant of $200,000 to be used to build new trails and repair existing trails in Winnebago County.  It will also allow for improved amenities, trailheads, and signage.

Champaign County - The Village of St. Joseph will receive a grant of $198,300 to be used for the development of trail spur and trailhead to serve the Kickapoo Rail Trail.  It will allow for trail work, restrooms, and amenities.

Henry County - The City of Geneseo will receive $116,000 in grant money for the construction 2.2 miles of bike lanes in Henry County.  It will help with construction of 1.4 miles of bike lane augmented by a crossing signal, as well as .8 miles of bike boulevard connecting downtown Geneseo to the Hennepin Canal.

Champaign County - The Champaign County Forest Preserve District will receive $200,000 to assist with the construction of asphalting near the Kickapoo Rail Trail in Champaign County.  It will allow construction of 1/3-mile of asphalt section near the trail.

Tazewell County -The City of East Peoria will receive $200,000 for the Camp Street Trail in Tazewell County.  It will allow construction of 1000 ft. of bituminous surface on the Camp Street Trail for the second phase of four.


Audubon Society buys 395 acres in Lee County

Wed, December 21, 2016

Springfield, IL— Illinois Audubon Society has purchased 395 acres of the former Green Wing Environmental Laboratory from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. The parcel is located within two miles of the Society’s Amboy Marsh Nature Preserve and provides an opportunity to further expand critical habitat that was once part of the magnificent 100,000-plus acre complex of wetlands in Lee County called Inlet and Winnebago Swamps.

The $2.1 million purchase was made possible through a land acquisition grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (Chicago, Illinois), long-time Society member Russell Gremel, and Illinois Audubon’s land acquisition fund. The land will be dedicated in early 2017 as the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary: a Legacy Project of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Gremel hopes that generations of young land stewards and bird enthusiasts will now be able to visit and enjoy the sanctuary. Public access will be encouraged upon completion of a parking area off Lewis Road.

“We are truly grateful to both of these generous partners for coming together to give this land protection story a happy ending,” says Jim Herkert, Executive Director of Illinois Audubon Society. Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation also awarded the Society $125,878 for wetland restoration costs through their Advancing Wetlands Conservation grant.

Green Wing Environmental Laboratory contains a mix of shallow sand ponds and remnant black oak sand forest/savanna along with a large wet meadow of excellent quality. The parcel has received little natural area management for more than 25 years.

“It will be our goal to protect and restore representative examples of intact native ecosystems and unique natural features that still persist today,” explains site steward Deb Carey. To complete this large undertaking, the Society will rely on some of the same stewards who care for the nearby Amboy Marsh Nature Preserve. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation notes that the work of these stewards was one of the deciding factors in awarding a $1.6 million grant to the Society.

“We continue to be impressed with the thought and care that these dedicated volunteers and the staff of Illinois Audubon Society put into their work at Amboy Marsh,” says Dennis O’Brien, Executive Director of the Foundation. “It is clear that the Society takes the promise of permanent protection very seriously and the Foundation looks forward to seeing a similar commitment to the care of the natural habitat at the soon to be dedicated Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary.”

Purchased for its significant ecological value, the sanctuary provides habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals and offers opportunities for continued site-based research and education through a partnership with Augustana College. Initial inventories include 197 bird species and 418 species of plants.

“I am looking forward to the future partnership between Augustana College and Illinois Audubon Society that will create meaningful field-based and applied learning experiences for students and faculty in the sciences and liberal arts, and generate collaborative programs and community outreach activities to the public in northern Illinois,” stated Dr. Stephen B. Hager, Professor of Biology at the college. The college is retaining an adjacent 15 acres which include field station buildings and a donor-sponsored restored prairie.

The mission of the Illinois Audubon Society is to promote the perpetuation and appreciation of native plants and animals and the habitats that support them. The Society is an independent, member supported, not-for-profit, statewide organization. Founded in 1897, the Society is Illinois’ oldest private conservation organization with 2,200 members, 18 chapters and 19 affiliate groups. The Illinois Audubon Society has invested $10.9 million into land and water conservation throughout Illinois, protected 3,895 acres.


Youth goose hunt applications due Dec. 30

Tue, December 20, 2016

Youth interested in participating in the annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, sponsored by the IDNR, can register now for the hunt, which is scheduled for Jan. 15-16, 2017.

To register for a drawing to participate in the hunt, phone 217-785-8060 by the registration deadline of Friday, Dec. 30. 

The youth goose hunt will be held at private waterfowl hunting clubs in the Canton area in Fulton Co. A lottery drawing involving all youth who phone in to register will be conducted on January 3, 2017, and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.  First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing. The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.

All applicants must possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman’s license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20-gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card.


Apply now for ICF conservation scholarship

Thu, December 15, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Applications are now being accepted by the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) for the 2017 Conservation Achievement Scholarship program.  The ICF annually awards scholarships to outstanding high school seniors in Illinois who demonstrate effective, voluntary, long-term dedication to the preservation, protection or enhancement of the state’s natural resources.  Up to three scholarships of $2,000 each are available for the current school year. 

“Over the years, the ICF’s Conservation Achievement Scholarship program has awarded nearly $100,000 to help further the education of young people who have shown interest in being our future conservation leaders,” said Wayne Rosenthal, chairman of the Illinois Conservation Foundation Board of Directors and Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “This scholarship program recognizes outstanding natural resources stewardship efforts by high school students from throughout Illinois.” 

The ICF Conservation Achievement Scholarships have been awarded since 2005. Applicants must be an Illinois resident and a senior in an Illinois high school.  Applications must be received by the ICF by January 15, 2017.

Detailed instructions and the 2017 application form can be accessed through the ICF website at:

Please contact the Illinois Conservation Foundation at 217-785-2003 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information or to make a donation to support the Conservation Achievement Scholarship program.


Pheasant quota increased at Jim Edgar

Tue, December 06, 2016

Daily hunter quotas have been increased on the Controlled Pheasant Hunting Unit at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area in Cass Co. beginning Dec. 7 and extending to the close of the hunting season on Jan. 15.

Hunters are encouraged to use the online Controlled Pheasant Hunting Reservation System to secure permits.  Reserved Permits ensure hunters will have the opportunity to hunt, and ensure that the number of pheasants released is appropriate for the number of hunters participating each day.  Standby permits are also available at the site hunter check station for each hunt date through Dec. 31, although standby hunting opportunities are limited.  After Dec. 31, standby permits will not be available for the remaining hunt dates at Jim Edgar Panther Creek.

To access the on-line reservation system:
Click on the “Hunt/Trap” button on the IDNR Home Page at www.dnr.illinois.gov
Then click on “Upland Game”
Then under the heading “Licenses and Permits” click on “Controlled Pheasant Hunting Areas and Permit”

Hunters are reminded that the daily permit fee for controlled pheasant hunting is $30 for resident hunters and $35 for nonresident hunters each hunt date.  The daily permit fee applies to each hunter.  Hunters are further reminded that young hunters 17 and under hunt for free on Sat., Dec. 31 when accompanied by a paid adult hunter.  Each young hunter must be accompanied by an adult hunter.  Hunters should use the “Youth Opportunity Dates Only” application on the Controlled Pheasant Hunting website to bring a young hunter for free on Dec. 31.

For complete details, access the controlled pheasant hunting website at www.dnr.illinois.gov


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