SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that public comment will be sought on land to be acquired for natural and wildlife protection and recreational use in Will and Logan counties as a result of court settlements against firms responsible for oil releases.
The projects are the first since a new agreement was reached in February for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Illinois Attorney General to work together to pursue “Natural Resource Damage Assessments” against those responsible for causing damage to the environment and wildlife through releases of oil or other hazardous substances.
“Illinois’ provides natural resources able to be enjoyed by any resident, no matter what part of the state he or she lives in,” said Governor Blagojevich. “From the abundance of lakes in the southern part of our state to the myriad of hiking trails in the northern portion of Illinois, our natural resources need to be protected by all means possible.”
Federal environmental laws authorize states to designate trustees to seek compensation for lost or injured natural resources and use it for restoration projects in the vicinity of the damages. Both the Directors of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are designated trustees for the state of Illinois.
“We can’t allow polluters to rob future generations of the opportunity to know and enjoy Illinois’ natural beauty. We will continue to hold companies responsible for damage they cause to our natural resources,” Governor Blagojevich said.
A court settlement reached in November 2002 provided approximately $105,000 as compensation for a release of gasoline, diesel oil and related substances in Logan and Menard counties in 1994 and 1997 by Williams Pipeline Company.
The releases caused damages to approximately 21 acres of stream and floodplain habitat along an unnamed tributary to Salt Creek. The proposed use of the settlement would purchase a 48-acre parcel that would be a new entrance to Edward Madigan State Park as well as restoration to native habitat for wildlife and associated recreational activity. A second parcel of 15 acres includes a natural stream recognized as biologically significant because of its high diversity of mussels. It would also enable IDNR to protect and restore a half-mile of stream habitat and buffer.
A court settlement reached in April 2002 resulting from a release of diesel fuel into a ditch at the Commonwealth Edison Braidwood generating station in June 2000, includes $4,700 in Natural Resource Restoration funds. The fuel migrated two miles and entered a wetland and contaminated the soil and killed fish, ducks and other wildlife.
The proposed restoration project---at the Mazonia-Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area---will expand an existing five-acre wetland area by an additional three acres. It will provide enhanced habitat for migrating waterfowl and local wildlife.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is welcoming public comments on the projects until May 15, 2004. Information is available on the web at http:/idnr.state.il.us and under “announcements.”