Joining Illinois Sierra Club Members in Lake and Northeastern Cook Counties

Summer 2006, Issue #50

In This Issue

Go To Article Route 120 Bypass Threatens Almond Marsh Heron Rookery
Go To Article Positions Open for Good Volunteers
Go To Article Will We Sell the Mojave/Zion Wilderness?
Go To Article Dragonflies
Go To Article 403 kBPrintable, Portable W&W News
Go To Article Next Issue of W&W News
Go To Article Previous Issue of W&W News

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   C A L E N D A R  
{ Meetings O Outings

Rustle the Leaf


Route 120 Bypass Threatens Almond Marsh Heron RookeryReturn to Top

By Evan Craig

FAP 342

Taking a page from the notebook of Frank Luntz, the Route 120 Corridor Planning Council is using the less controversial “Route 120 Bypass” name to promote the same old Rt. 53 pave-the-environment agenda. Luntz, infamous architect of mendacious titles like “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forest Initiative” to sell pollution and clear-cuts would approve if he’d attended the recent Open House in Hainesville. Nice words don’t fix dirty plans.

As previously reported, the Route 120 Bypass study was hastily initiated at a so-called “Transportation Summit” last September. Vowing to keep Rt. 53 off the table, the organizers promised a new effort, without preconceived assumptions, to determine a new plan for a bypass around Grayslake. Politicians attended and promised to support consensus from the summit. We were alarmed then to see the familiar E-W segment of the failed Rt. 53 extension displayed in the presentation, but were assured that a kinder, gentler alignment with local character would be sought. The top map shows the "new" Rt. 120 Bypass across the northern third of Lake County. The bottom map is our familiar foe, including the N-S leg, spanning the entire county.

Our concerns were confirmed at an early public meeting of the Committee. Marty Buehler, Director of the Lake County Department of Transportation, pronounced that the plan would have to be prepared for the construction of the environmentally ruinous N-S leg of the supposedly “dead” Rt. 53 extension. When we objected, he said that the Rt. 53 extension is still in the Regional Transportation Plan, and that the Lake County Board has adopted a neutral position on the Rt. 53 extension. To get money from our federal government for this project, he said the plan would have to include fictional Rt. 53 traffic. Federal transportation planners, who wisely require comprehensive planning, would be chagrinned to see that their regulations prevent us from abandoning bad ideas like the Rt. 53 extension. “Dead” or not, Rt. 53 is still causing trouble.

So once again, the Rt. 53 extension controversy seems poised to torpedo efforts to relieve traffic. Unfortunately, elected mayors and a few state representatives don’t have the guts to tell frustrated constituents the truth: The Rt. 53 extension is unaffordable, disastrous, and the biggest impediment to true transportation improvement ever to infect the minds of Lake County drivers. As a result, more public money and volunteer hours are likely to be wasted on the same old controversy in this new forum.

Including the traffic burden from a hypothetical N-S Rt. 53 extension (FAP 342) will presume traffic from two non-existent towns the size of Mundelein that the extension was predicted to invite. As we showed with the Crossroads Study, a new tollway invites more traffic from outside our region too. If the same assumptions are used for this new plan, why should we expect a different outcome? The result will a bloated Rt. 120 Bypass proposal, virtually identical to the failed proposal for an E-W leg of the Rt. 53 extension.

In a ridiculous gesture to address our concerns, the committee seems determined to plan the new bypass “with or without” the Rt. 53 extension. Since any one plan that addresses either traffic load will be sized for the larger load, this really amounts to a plan “with and without,” and that degenerates to simply “with” the imaginary Rt. 53 extension. Obviously, any new road that pretends to address real traffic, but which is sized to accept additional fictional traffic from an unbuilt superhighway, will be oversized.

The Committee has also refused so far to consider a new alignment for the proposed bypass that avoids the Almond Marsh Forest Preserve heron rookery. When asked why the maps at the Open House displayed the E-W Rt. 53 extension alignment through those wetlands, Buehler immediately switched stories. Instead of insisting on traffic from the Rt. 53 extension, he pretended that it never included an E-W segment, and that the familiar alignment shown on huge maps around the room was supposedly entirely new and uncertain. But Buehler rejected the idea of replacing the exact line on the map with a wide band within which a new alignment might be placed.

Apparently the alignment is fixed, but we’re supposed to think the process is open. What Buehler failed to mention with others listening is that IDOT has been buying land for the Rt. 53 extension for years, including parcels that encroach on the heron rookery. In a perverse feat of bifurcated thinking, he denied that the 120 corridor is the Rt. 53 corridor, but then worried about the cost of the 120Bypass if the land bought for the Rt. 53 alignment is not used. Other ADID wetlands located at the Northbrook Sports Complex are similarly threatened if the old Rt. 53 E-W alignment is re-used.

The environmental assessment maps displayed at the open house included many designations, and rated them for their environmental sensitivity. In a part of the county with more and more frequent shortages of well water, absence of ground water recharge zones on the map is a concern. A recent report from the US Geological Survey finds that surface contamination is reaching shallow aquifers, and with existing aquifers overdrawn, run-off from new roads like this Bypass should not be allowed to foul this important public resource. The top map shows vast hydric soils, created by now-drained wetlands, in orange.

With so much resting on the conclusions of this committee, we need our representatives to honor their word, and the staff that they appoint to provide clear and honest information.

See Rt. 12 Bypass for more information.


Positions Open for Good VolunteersReturn to Top

By Evan Craig, Chair

Your local group is run entirely by local volunteers. Please commit some of your time and talent to help promote protection and enjoyment of our local environment. Click here for a list of our open positions. To volunteer, or find out more, email or call Evan at (847) 680-6437.


Will We Sell the Mojave/Zion Wilderness?Return to Top
September Sierra Club Meeting

By Larry Marvet

W&W Public Meeting
Cathy White, Environmental Quality Coordinator, Village of Wauconda
Wednesday, September 20, 6:45 p.m.
Vernon Area Library



300,000 acres surrounding Zion National Park have long been identified by Sierra Club members and other volunteers as worthy of wilderness designation and protection. Unfortunately, Utah’s federal legislators have different ideas - sell 70% to developers instead! Our speaker, Clayton Daughenbaugh, is a Field Organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and member of the Sierra Club’s national Wildlands Committee. He’ll show us the beauty and threats to this wonderful land that lies just west of Zion National Park. Known as “Greater Zion,” it contains red rock temples, profound gorges, and ponderosa-studded plateaus which complete the fantastically complex Zion-Mojave wilderness.

For additional questions, contact Larry Marvet (847-537-2083).

See Meetings for more information.


Dragonflies Return to Top
October Sierra Club Meeting

By Larry Marvet

W&W Public Meeting
Cathy White, Environmental Quality Coordinator, Village of Wauconda
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 6:45pm
Vernon Area Library

Question: What’s the connection between that little white box on your windshield and the possible extinction of a Midwestern insect species? Answer: The doubling of cash tolls and introduction of I-Pass on Illinois highways was meant to fund the extension of US I-355 - right through one of the last remaining habitats of the Hine’s Emerald dragonfly. Learn about these fragile, beautiful, delicate - and little known - insects from one of the experts in the field.

Few understand these striking insects and their lives better than our speaker, Cathy White. Before joining Wauconda’s Environmental Quality Office, Ms. White received a Master’s Degree in biology, worked in Naperville and Addison, and has helped to protect dragonflies in the Midwest. Come to our October meeting to appreciate the hidden lives - and dangers to - damselflies and dragonflies. (Ms. White was rescheduled from April.)

For additional questions, contact Larry Marvet (847-537-2083).

See Meetings for more information.


Will We Sell the Mojave/Zion Wilderness?Return to Top
Winter Sierra Club Meeting

By Larry Marvet

W&W Public Meeting
David Meyer, President Rainforest Conservation Fund
Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 6:45 p.m.
Vernon Area Library, Lincolnshire


The Rainforest Conservation Fund (RCF) is an all volunteer organization founded by a small group of Chicagoland residents concerned about rainforest destruction. Since it's beginning in 1988, they've focused their efforts on Peru's one million acre Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu Tahuayo (RCTT), home to the most diverse assembly of primate species on any protected land in the world.

Mr. Meyer will tell us how RCF works with the adjacent communities to limit destructive activities through alternative methods and industries. By protecting the Reserva, the Rainforest Conservation Fund is protecting numerous unique and endangered animals, including jaguar, pink river dolphin, harpy eagle, red uakari monkey, giant otter, and the giant anteater.


See Meetings for more information.

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Printable and Portable W&W News Return to Top

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