Joining Illinois Sierra Club Members in Lake and Northeastern Cook Counties

Spring 2007, Issue #56

In This Issue

Go To Article Olympics Endanger Sandhill Cranes
Go To Article How Your IL Legislator Votes
Go To Article US Mail Slow, Switch to E-Mail
Go To Article The Dirt on Global Warming
Go To Article One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, NO FISH!
Go To Article Project Hot Seat to Stop Global Warming!
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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Rustle the Leaf


 


What’s a Few Endangered Sandhill Cranes Compared to the Olympics?Return to Top

By Larry Marvet

A recent front page article in the May 25 Chicago Tribune highlighted the fact that nesting Sandhill cranes, an Illinois threatened species, would be bulldozed by the proposed 2016 Olympic equestrian facility in Lakewood Forest Preserve. The article by Kathy Bergen also illustrated the beauty of Lakewood and the intense connection that many citizens have for this place.

In the days following the article I received a number of outraged phone calls and emails asking how such development could be allowed in a forest preserve, especially in the habitat of an endangered species. The exact answer is a closely held secret with the Forest Preserve District, as nearly everything has been with respect to this proposal, but many of the facts are known and enlightening:

  • M. K. Pritzker, member of the famous Chicago Hyatt Hotel family, is an equestrian and offering over $12 million free and clear to build the Olympic facility.

  • It costs way more than $12 million to build an Olympic equestrian facility—the Sidney equestrian Olympics in 2000 cost about $30 million.

  • Free land could close the gap between this available $12 million and $30 million requirement.

  • The current president of the Lake County Forest Preserve Board, Bonnie Carter, represents Wauconda voters.

Their published response is that they will dismantle some of what they build after the Olympics, that spectators will be bussed into the Preserve rather than have massive parking lots, and that afterwards the facility would not be used for non-horse events.

I think this last promise is the most interesting, in that Atlanta’s equestrian Olympic facility (now named the Georgia International Horse Park) is scheduled almost every day of the week with horse shows, mountain bike races, hot air balloon jamborees, concerts, and more. I’m not sure how much promising is going to stop the business people of Wauconda from, well, trying to increase their business with a few more events.

According to a May 28 Daily Herald article by Russell Lissau, the Forest Preserve and the Olympics people did environmental studies before choosing Lakewood. It’s unclear how these studies failed to find (or chose to overlook) endangered Sandhill Crane nests on the cross-country trail or Crane foraging areas where the main stadium is proposed.

Now these Cranes are a sticky problem for Ms. Carter and the Lake County Board. Unless they decide to continue their secrecy campaign, expect comments like these over the next few weeks and months as they try to defuse the issue:

  • “We’ll put a buffer between these animals and the construction/events/spectators!”

  • Wauconda is adjacent to Lakewood FP and would get the most business from the equestrian Olympics—200,000 to 600,000 attendance expected, extensive road widening, hotel building, etc.

  • Abbott Laboratories, a main sponsor of the Chicago Olympic bid and active participant in Olympic planning, is headquartered in Lake County.

  • As evidenced by the secret negotiations, minimal debate and unanimous vote by the Lake County Board members, Carter has strong control of forest preserve land.

  • Birds in Wauconda don’t vote.

The current Forest Preserve position on their plan mirrors George Bush’s argument for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve—we can do this massive work without affecting nature in any way. And no doubt they will take some precautions, perhaps using smaller bulldozers than normal or leaving a few trees as buffer between the cross-country course and the Sandhill Crane nests.

  • “We’ll build new homes (elsewhere) for these precious wild things.”

  • “We’ll be very quiet and not disturb them.”

  • “Sandhill Cranes are not really endangered, there are plenty of them in other states/countries/planets.”

  • “Our development is only on a very small portion of the Preserve, so the Cranes can move their homes very easily.”

  • “We will follow the requisite laws and regulations concerning these birds."

  • ”What’s more important, a beautiful new equestrian facility for our county or a few birds?”

  • "What’s more important, economic enhancement for Wauconda or a few birds?”

  • "How can you be against the Olympics?!?!”

In contrast to the Lake County Forest Preserve board, Sierra Club forbids the development of natural areas for Olympic events. We’ve recently started a committee to help Chicago get the Olympics, and to make it a truly green event. If you want to get involved, please email me at: lemarvet@gmail.com.

 

See Olympic Dreams article in our last issue.

 


How Your IL Legislator VotesReturn to Top

By Doug Ower

W&W volunteers who joined the Illinois Sierra Club Grass Roots Lobby Committee last fall have been focusing our legislators’ attention on a number of important environmental bills. Some of these bills have passed, and others still toss on the rough seas of extended budget negotiations. Here is the status of the bills, and how your Woods and Wetlands Senators and Representatives voted. We are proud that some of our legislators have rolled up their sleeves and introduced legislation that address pressing environmental problems, and we show their names as sponsors in bold below. Others are lying low, or even opposing us. There are literally thousands of bills offered, and the key to keeping a bill alive to become a law is gathering active support from more legislators. By formally cosponsoring a bill, and doing so early, each legislator can play a crucial role in passing a bill. We show them in the order they signed on.

These IL districts are all or mostly in W&W territory:

Senatorial: 26-Peterson, 29-Garrett, 30-Link, 31-Bond.

Representative: 51-Sullivan, 58-May, 59-Ryg, 60-Washington, 61-Osmond, 62-Cole; partly in: 17-Coulson, 52-Beaubien, 53-Mathias, 57-Nekritz.

 

Illinois Cool Cities Act – SB1242

Sierra Club developed the Cool Cities campaign to show the importance of addressing Global Warming at the local level. In our region, Waukegan and Highland Park have already committed to be Cool Cities by finding ways to use less energy more efficiently. By returning to 1990 usage levels, they hope to also save money. Other cities, villages, and Lake County are considering becoming Cool, and this new act gives them some help. It calls on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to provide technical assistance, if needed, to units of local government in the State that have endorsed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.

W&W Sponsors

Representatives Sid Mathias, Sandy Cole, JoAnn Osmond, Eddie Washington, Karen May, Beth Coulson, Kathy Ryg and Elaine Nekritz.

Status

Passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

 

Detergents – Regulate Phosphorus – SB0376, HB0819

When phosphorus gets in our lakes and streams it causes excess growth of algae, and this can kill off the healthy diversity of fish and plants that live there for years. By reducing the amount of phosphorus in the products we put down the drain, we can help keep it out of our waters. Phosphorus was eliminated from laundry detergent years ago, and many states have already removed it from dishwashing detergent. This bill provides that on and after January 1, 2010, no person may use, sell, manufacture, or distribute for sale any cleaning agent containing more that 0.5% phosphorus by weight in Illinois, except as provided under this Act.

W&W Sponsors

Representatives Karen May and Elaine Nekritz.

Status

Passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

 

Great Lakes Interstate Compact – SB0050, HB0375

This agreement was negotiated by US mayors of states on the shores of the Great Lakes with Canadian officials to Protect Lake Michigan. This bill ratifies the resulting Great Lakes Compact, to protect the Great Lakes from unregulated water withdrawals.

W&W Sponsors

Senator Susan Garrett; Representatives Jack Franks, Karen May, Eddie Washington, Beth Coulson, Kathy Ryg, Sid Mathias, and Sandy Cole.

Status

HB0375 passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

SB0050 passed unanimously in the Senate and is in the House Rules Committee.

 

 

Protect Open Space – SJR0052, HJR0055.

According to the Illinois DNR, there is a current need of $3 billion to protect places important for our future. With only 1% of state owned land protected for future generations, Illinois ranks last in the Midwest in acres protected per capita. The Lake County Forest Preserve District’s acquisition program is moving too slowly, yet has an unmet need of $15M from the state.

These resolutions urge the Governor to present a capital budget that includes $100,000,000, on an annual basis, for the Illinois Special Places Acquisition, Conservation and Enhancement (iSPACE) Program, which includes the following:

  1. a new statewide land acquisition program to protect the State's most precious natural resources and provide recreational opportunities, including matching grants to local governments;

  2. implementation of the Partners for Conservation Program (formerly Conservation 2000) through land acquisition and management grants; and

  3. implementation of the Hunting Heritage Protection Act by increasing the amount of land acreage available for hunting opportunities in Illinois.

W&W Sponsors

Senators Susan Garrett, Terry Link, and Bill Peterson;
Representatives Elaine Nekirtiz, Beth Coulson, Karen May, Kathy Ryg, Jack Franks, Sid Mathias, Sandy Cole, and Eddie Washington.

Status

HJR0055 – Resolution adopted. Voting record not available.

SJR0052 - Resolution adopted. Voting record not available. Referred to House Rules Committee.

 

Affordable and Clean Energy Standards Act – SB1184

With this bill, Illinois legislators recognize that using electricity more efficiently is six times less expensive than generating more and wasting it. All scenarios to address Global Warming include increased efficiency as the biggest opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation is designed to help businesses and individuals cut their power bills by saving money through energy efficiency and a diversified power supply provided by wind energy. It initially included measures to improve the energy efficiency of new buildings, but that was separated into HB1842.

W&W Sponsors

Senators Susan Garrett, Terry Link, and Bill Peterson; Representatives Kathy Ryg, Karen May and Beth Coulson.

Status

Passed unanimously in the Senate, Re-referred to House Rules Committee.

 

Energy Efficient Residential Building Code – HB1842

Building homes that use energy more efficiently saves the homeowner money - and slashes Global Warming Gas emissions. But many homebuilders skimp on these measures to increase their profits and sell more houses. The Illinois Residential Energy Efficiency Building Code establishes uniform energy efficiency standards for new single family residential construction.

Forty-two other states have recently adopted the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential building, and Illinois is already committed to constructing energy efficient buildings: in 2004 the Illinois General Assembly adopted the IECC for commercial buildings under the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act. But, Illinois is still one of only four states without a statewide code for residential buildings. House Bill 1842 will amend the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act to bring residential building construction in Illinois up to standard.

W&W Sponsors

Representatives Karen May, Sandy Cole, Elaine Nekritz, Beth Coulson, Eddie Washington, Kathy Ryg.

W&W Opposition

These W&W legislators opposed it: Mark Beaubien, JoAnn Osmond and Eddy Sullivan.

Status

Passed in the House 74 to 38. Re-referred to Senate Rules Committee.

These are only the primary bills that we have been tracking. For more, see http://illinois.sierraclub.org » and click on LEGISLATIVE in the left column.

 


US Mail Slow, Switch to E-MailReturn to Top

By Evan Craig

It’s gotten so bad, it’s on the evening news. We just can’t count on having this newsletter delivered, and it regularly takes weeks. Meanwhile, the cost of postage just keeps going up.

Our solution? Sign up to get your newsletter by e-mail. It’s fast, and it’s free! We’ll send you these same great stories and events, with better pictures and richer content - in time to respond and participate! To sign up, address an e-mail message to

 LISTSERV@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG

and then include the following commands in the body of the message :

SUBSCRIBE IL-WWG-ALERTS firstname lastname

(inserting your first name and last name).

If things don’t improve, we might decide to stop printing and mailing this version of our newsletter, and rely solely on e-mail and our website to get the news to you. So don’t miss out! Subscribe now.

Worried that you might have missed an issue? We post this newsletter on our website too. Bookmark our website:

http://illinois.sierraclub.org/w&w


The Dirt on Global WarmingReturn to Top

By Evan Craig

Sequestration is a new concept entering the American thinking about Global Warming. We all know that when our cars, homes and factories use fossil fuels, they release CO2, and that the build-up of this Green House Gas (GHG) in the atmosphere is trapping more heat from the sun. This trapped heat is warming the atmosphere, causing violent weather, melting glaciers and ice sheets and upsetting ecosystems. Damage from Global Warming is projected to cost us up to 20% of our Gross Domestic Product if not seriously addressed. While the most effective way to reduce GHG emissions is to simply use those ancient forms of stored sunshine more efficiently, the industries who make money selling and burning fossil fuels look for other ways to protect their profits. Rather than stop burning fossil fuels, they’ve begun talking about ways of capturing the CO2 and keeping it out of the atmosphere. That’s carbon sequestration, and while questionable schemes to pipe power plant exhaust half way across Illinois and pump it into the ground sustain the ridiculous notion of “clean coal,” prairies, and especially wet prairies, have been sequestering carbon for thousands of years.

On an international scale, sequestration has been a wildcard in global climate change negotiations. The logging and destruction of the tropical rainforests to support slash and burn subsistence agriculture releases the carbon stored in the wood of those massive trees. Re-growing them using the plentiful amounts of sunlight received by the tropics would recapture that carbon, and while re-growing, those tropical countries could claim sizable carbon sequestration credits, exceeding their modest industrial emissions. By buying those credits, huge CO2 emitters like the US could offset some of our emissions - while helping to save the tropical rainforests.

While learning that restoring biodiverse prairies could play an important role in stopping Global Warming is satisfying, it was strange that neither the Roadmap or Tilman assigns high importance to the ability of prairies to sequester carbon. Tilman found that carbon sequestration occurred little below two feet. How then could Chicago Wilderness declare that carbon-rich prairie soils were commonly twice that deep and in some places eight times that deep? A talk by Jerry Wilhelm On March 3 at the Chicago Wilderness Wild Things » conference explained the role of water in carbon sequestration. Dr. Wilhelm was describing the fate of a high quality prairie when an adjacent parcel was drained for farming. The high water table and the prairie had sustained each other mutually, with the plants drawing water and nutrients to the surface, and the water protecting the rich carbon in the soil from oxidation. When the water table dropped, the plants declined, and the soil lost its carbon. He cited a Purdue study on Conservation Reserve Program land documenting 1 ton/acre/year of C sequestration - 4 to 10 times more than the Roadmap, and how tillage of those rich soils causes a 90% loss of Carbon in soils within 19 days. In addition, the prairie evaporates the water drawn to the surface, cooling the air, and providing moisture for cloud formation, another way to reduce Global Warming. When asked about Tilman’s study, Wilhelm replied that the ability of prairies in the wet Midwest soils to generate rich organic topsoil far exceeds the ability of the dryer marginal lands to the west that Tilman likely measured. In his paper titled The Realities of CO2», he explains that burning the prairie maximizes it’s ability to capture CO2 through photosynthesis during the next growing cycle.

The Roadmap adopted by the Sierra Club sets a goal of 60% to 80% CO2 emission reduction by 2050 to avoid the worst consequences of Global Warming, and 57% of those reductions are available from improving energy efficiency. The other 43% is available from deployment of presently available renewable sources that draw on the daily energy we get from the Sun, including wind, solar and biofuels, plus a little geothermal from the Earth. In addition to the efficiency gains expected in Chicagoland, the report targets Illinois for wind power and biofuels (which are made from biomass). Since gas prices started rising above $3/gallon we have heard a lot about running cars on ethanol from corn, one of Illinois’ cash crops. The Roadmap claims modest CO2 benefits of using food for fuel, but places greater hope in the use of bioengineered woody and herbaceous perennial crops like switchgrass. Switchgrass is a prairie species, but talk of bioengineering it like they have corn pleases giant companies like ADM and Monsanto. So after they made corn and switchgrass synonymous with biofuels, an article published in Science» magazine by Tilman and Lehman came as a surprise. The abstract reads “Sustainable, higher diversity grasslands with low-fertility soils can yield more biomass and consume more CO2 than equal acreages planted with monocultured biofuel sources.” Translated: prairies beat switchgrass.

 

Unlike a mature rainforest, which does not continue to sequester carbon, wet prairies lay down carbon year after year. When big trees fall in the forest, they rot in the intense wet heat, and release their carbon. The rainforest soils remain thin and retain little organic matter. In contrast, prairies create the richest soils on the planet from silt, gravel, clay and muck.

Together, these studies shed light on the importance of topsoil to reduce Global Warming, and the importance of water to protecting carbon in our topsoil. Losing 99% of our Midwest prairies to row-crop tillage was and continues to contribute to Global Warming. Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC») assigns 10% of global GHG emission to “land use.”

In our region, developers regularly scrape all the remaining topsoil from an entire site into a big heap, where it rapidly returns its sequestered carbon to the atmosphere. Then they install drainage to lower the water table. These practices make construction easier, and ensure a stable, dry foundation. But they also amount to a death blow and preemptive strike against recovery of an ecosystem that knows what to do about Global Warming. Considering the consequences, we need to evaluate other ways to live on the land that do less damage to climate.


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, NO FISH!Return to Top

By Donnie R. Dann

With due apologies to Dr. Seuss, many species of the world’s fish are in serious decline. Nature magazine reports that populations of swordfish, tuna, sharks and similar large predators have dropped by as much as 90%. Reckless over-fishing and pollution have laid waste to large areas of the planet’s marine life. In the U. S. fifty-four species are classified as over-fished, 45 are experiencing over-fishing and just over half of the nation's stocks remain in an uncertain status. Unless current practices change, by mid-century the journal Science reports commercial harvests of many species could collapse to 10 % of their historical highs.

Grim as the picture is, it is not hopeless and our history of mismanagement can be reversed. Here are ways to remedy this tragic free-fall, both by our institutions and ourselves. Actions by government and non government organizations:

  • Create marine reserves that are off limits to all forms of human activity other than passive observation or scientific study. These would be similar to land based wildlife refuges.

  • Support Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPS), whereby fishermen participate in a managed system where they each can catch an allotted amount of fish based on a scientifically-determined, fully enforced limit on the total number of fish caught and landed. Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have endorsed the idea and in the Gulf of Mexico’s Red Snapper fishery, fishermen voted in favor of the program by an overwhelming 87%.

  • Establish controls on by-catch — the unintentional killing of fish and other ocean life.

  • Prohibit fishing via huge ocean-floor dredges.

  • Encourage the National Marine Fisheries Service to require a moratorium on commercial take of threatened or endangered species where none exist.

Actions we can take as individuals:

  • Make your seafood choices fish that are abundant, come from well-managed fisheries, or are caught or farmed in environmentally sound ways. These include several species of farmed fish including Arctic Char, Catfish, Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Stone Crab, Striped Bass, and Tilapia to name a few. Wild caught Alaskan Halibut and Salmon are excellent, and line caught Albacore and Skipjack Tuna are also good. For a complete list see http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp 

  • Try to avoid trawler caught fish. These ships are so large they can take well over 200 tons of fish from the ocean floor in one sweep. Ask for the many species of fish that are still caught by small nets, line or pot. Seafood markets may soon begin to display signs like ‘line caught’, especially if consumers begin asking.

  • Many species of fish should be shunned, like Chilean Seabass, Atlantic Cod and Salmon, imported King Crab, Orange Roughy, Sharks and Bluefin Tuna. The above link lists these as well.

  • Eat fish lower on the marine food chain, including smaller species such as clams, oysters, mollusks, anchovies, and sardines. Smaller species are less endangered because they are more abundant, reproduce faster, and consume even tinier ocean life themselves.

Please do your part by being a wise fish consumer and advocate the restoration of ocean health a top priority for our political leaders.


Project Hot Seat to Stop Global Warming!Return to Top

By Kate Ogden, Greenpeace Global Warming Field Organizer

Here in Illinois, we are already feeling the effects of global warming, with drier summers, and dangerous heat waves. Scientists say that increasing temperatures from global warming can lead to higher concentrations of asthma-causing pollution in Chicagoland.

The good news is that we have the technology and the know-how to begin implementing global warming solutions right now; we just need to get Congress on board. That's why we're working locally to make sure that Congresswoman Melissa Bean takes action to stop global warming.

 

Approaching Events:

  • July 1: Day of fun and activism in Barrington! Picnic with fellow volunteers while helping get Project Hot Seat ready for the Barrington Parade

  • July 4: Walk with Project Hot Seat in the Barrington Fourth of July parade, and help build support in Rep. Bean's hometown!

To find out how you can get more involved, send an email to kate.ogden@wdc.greenpeace.org, or call 248.227.1302*


Join Our Free E-mail Lists! Return to Top

Members are invited to join the W&W group's e-mail lists. On the ALERTS list you will receive infrequent timely posts from the Group Chair (only), primarily on local issues. Some of these appear on this website, and if you subscribe you will learn about them in time to help. The ISSUES list allows you to share in a discussion with other W&Wers. To sign up, just visit each of these websites and click Join :

ALERTS

ISSUES

We do not share e-mail address lists, and you can remove yourself from either list at any time.


Printable and Portable W&W News Return to Top

Here's the printed version of this issue of the W&W News in pdf ». It's 106 kB and you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it. If you want to give a copy to a friend who doesn't have internet access, we suggest printing this pdf rather than this web page. This issue of the W&W News is also found in print as part of Volume 48 #3 » of the Illinois Chapter's Lake & Prairie newsletter. It's ?.?MB.

Another option is to take this on your PDA with AvantGo », a free service that lets you download and synch web pages with your PDA. Just have it synch this one from Woods & Wetlands News #56 » .


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