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This is the thirteenth diary in my Expanding the National Parks series. Last time I visited Idaho, this week I'm following in Lincoln's footsteps in Illinois. Illinois doesn't have much protected land on the federal level, only 1.8% of the state is owned by the feds, good for 41st among the states. Currently Illinois has 1 national forest, 11 wildlife refuges, and 3 other NPS units. I will propose giving Illinois its first monuments.

This is the thirteenth diary in my Expanding the National Parks series. Last time I visited Idaho, this week I'm following in Lincoln's footsteps in Illinois. Illinois doesn't have much protected land on the federal level, only 1.8% of the state is owned by the feds, good for 41st among the states. Currently Illinois has 1 national forest, 11 wildlife refuges, and 3 other NPS units. I will propose giving Illinois its first monuments.

 Total Area: 57 914 sq miles
 Land Area 55 519 sq miles
 Water Area 2 395 sq miles
 Coastline 63 sq miles
Additional monuments-4


*  Shawnee Established 1933 covers 265 616 acres
Located in the southernmost part of the state,Established by FDR in 1933, the forest was expanded during the depression and reforested by the CCC. the forest contains 7 wildernesses as well as the"little Grand Canyon" and is the largest area of public land in Illinois. there are efforts to frack the forest, so stronger protection of this area is needed.


* Chautauqua Established 1936 Covers 4388 acres
one of four refuges located on the Illinois river, Chautauqua was created from a failed attempt to create agricultural land out of wetlands near the river. the attempt changed the layout and makeup of the area, but the passage of time and continued buildup of silt is slowly restoring the refuge to what it was before the attempts to dike and divert the land.
*  Crab Orchard Established 1947 Covers 43890 acres
 The second largest refuge in the state, Crab Orchard is an important stop on the Mississippi Flyway. 200000 Canadian geese winter there and nearly 250 species of birds have been identified in the refuge. the Crab Orchard wilderness, which covers the southernmost part of the refuge, covers 4000 acres.the eastern half of the refuge is a sanctuary and public access to limited. 1 million people visit the refuge annually.
* Cypress Creek Established 1990 Covers 16000 acres
 Located at the southernmost tip of the state, this refuge is home to 50 endangered or threatened species. plans call for the refuge to expand to 36000 acres which would make the third refuge in the state to cover more than 30000 acres. while administered by FWS the area is part of a collaboration between federal and state agencies and conservation groups and private landowners.
 * Driftless Area Established 1989 Covers 812 acres (in IL, IA and WI)
The smallest refuge in the state, this refuge was set up to protect the endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail and the threatened Northern Wild Monkshood. the refuge is slowly being expanded to protect the ecosystem and wildlife in the area.
* Emiquon Established 1993 Covers 11122 acres
set aside to protect portions of the Illinois riverbed, Emiquon was declared a Ramsar Wetland in 2012 goals include expanding the refuge, purchasing the portion owned by the Nature Conservancy, reconnecting the lakes and restoring the natural drainage patterns of the area, as well as incorporating the refuge into the Illinois River WR Complex.
* Hackmatack Established 2012 Covers 11800 acres(in IL and WI)
The newest wildlife refuge in the state, Hackmatack, is an urban refuge crossing the border into Wisconsin. while the refuge has only a small amount of land set aside as of this writing, plans call for nearly 12000 acres once the refuge is completed. Hamatack is a Algonquin word for the tamarack conifer, which used to be abundant in the area. the potowatomi tribe lived in region historically, using the area for fishing and hunting. development of the area around Chicago saw much of the wetlands disappear, the refuge is an attempt to restore some of the area to it previous state, which includes areas of tallgrass prairie. More than 100 species of animal, including the Blandings Turtle, make their home in the area designated for the refuge.
* Meredosia Established 1973 Covers 5255 acres
 Located on Meredosia Island, it is part of the Illinois River WR complex, along with Emiquon and Chautauqua WRs. originally owned by a  hunting club before being bought by the FWS, and efforts are ongoing to expand the refuge.
* Middle Mississippi River Established 2000 Covers 7000 acres (in IL and MO)
 part of the former Mark Twain WR, the refuge consists of Meissner and Wilkinson Islands in Illinois and Harlow Island in Missouri. the refuge was created from lands damaged from the 1993 Mississippi River flood.
* Port Louisa Established 1958 Covers 10780 acres (in IL and IA)
Once part of the Mark Twain WR, Port Loiusa is a stopover on the Mississippi Flyway. it consists of four sections,Big Timber, Horseshoe Bend, Keithsburg and Louisa. of those four, Keithsburg is the smallest and the only one that lies in Illinois, the others lie in Iowa.
* Two Rivers Established 1958 Covers 8501 acres (in IL and MO)
Lying at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, the refuge consists of five parcels spread between Missouri and Illinois. Resident animals include wood ducks and bald eagles, who congregate in the refuge in larger numbers (over 500) than nearly anywhere else in the lower 48 states.
* Upper Mississippi River Established 1924 Covers 240000 actes (in IL, IA, MN and WI)
 Spread out over 4 states and covering 89636 acres in Wisconsin, 51148 in Iowa,33869 in Minnesota and 33490 in Illinois, the refuge is the oldest in the state and was named as a  Ramsar Wetland in 2010. the refuge ranges from large cliff bluffs along the Mississippi to hardwood forests to  floodplain. the refuge is one of the largest intact floodplains in the lower 48. the refuge is one of only two refuges (Silvio O Conte is the other) to span 4 states.


* Chicago Portage NHS Established 1952 Covers 91 acres
Protects the western end of the portage which connected the Chicago and Des Plaines rivers, which connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and Gulf Of Mexico by extension. the rest of the portage has been extensively developed over the years, the site is the last remnant that has been kept in its native state.
* Lincoln Home NHS  Established 1971 Covers 12 acres
Protects the home where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1844-1861, it was the only house Lincoln ever owned. the other houses in the district protected by the NHS have been been restored to period appearance. Lincoln's son Robert donated the house to the state in 1877 on condition it be well-maintained, it was bought by the NPS in 1971 and is to date the only property in the state owned by the Park Service.
*  Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie NG Established 1996 Covers 18226 acres
the only national grassland east of the Mississippi, Midewin (which is the Potowatomi word for the tribes healers) protects a remnant of the vegetation that covered much of Illinois before settlement, but which today exists in 1/10th of 1 percent of the state. The area on the which the refuge now sits was once the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, the land was turned over to the Forest service starting in 1997, and continued  land transfers has increased the grassland to 20000 acres, of that roughly 7000 is open to the public, the rest is left to naturally restore itself.

*Coastal Bluffs Protects the bluffs straddling the Mississippi River in Minnesota Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. Currently endangered from sand fracking going on in Wisconsin, the bluffs were formed  by the Mississippi river cutting slowly over thousands of years through the rock, creating bluffs hundreds of feet tall above the river. preserving the bluffs from fracking will require designation as a monument, as Congress is unlikely to act on slowing down the fracking going on in the area. Estimated area 1 million acres,an area roughly the size of Rhode Island.
* Illinois Coastal preserves open spaces up to 10 miles from the lakeshore and preserves Illinois' portion of Lake Michigan out to the boundaries with Wisconsin , Michigan and Indiana. given Chicago's development, available space is likely to be scarce. estimated area 74000 acres
* Lincoln  includes all locations, historic sites and memorials connected with Lincoln spread through the state and country estimated area 1000 acres
*Shawnee upgrades the existing forest to monument status in order to preserve the forest from proposed fracking. estimated area 300000 acres
 And there you have it folk, my rundown of Illinois is Complete. Next time I'll be in Indiana. As always, Comments, concerns and imput are welcome.

Originally posted to MorrellWI1983 on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As promised, this one didnt take nearly as long as (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irate, Louisiana 1976, Woody

    the prior one did. I'll be around later today for comments and feedback.

    •  Upside down (0+ / 0-)

      By the time the reader gets to the bottom of a long diary, you've probably lost him.

      Advice from a former editor: Put your top points at the top of your article, not at the conclusion. Your proposed new National Parks should be the first thing the reader gets to, not the last.

      Give more description and 'selling space' to your proposed new parks. Why should we care about a place? We want to know more about each one suggested. But we get six or seven lines on existing national forests and wildlife refuges, and only two or three lines about proposed new National Parks. Hunh?

      What about the Coastal Bluffs, for example, makes us interested in them? Not the four state location. We need more. Like, why are they called "coastal"? Do the bluffs make these upper reaches of the Mississippi make the river more navigable? Or are they the exposed section of a rocky stretch that had to be blasted out to make it usable by steamboats? Or something.

      The bluffs tower 000 feet high above the banks of the river, a wide canyon carved over eons by glaciers, the mighty Mississippi, something. Impassible to early settlers in wagons, and still an almost unplowed and natural landscape. The rocks/clay/something show striking colors at sunrise and sunset, OR they are covered by a verdant tangle of vines, flowering shrubs, and towering old growth forests, OR what? If it were made a National Park, what would we see if we went there?

      The fact that the area is some number of acres that I can't compare to nothing is unpersuasive. I don't think in acres. So is it larger than Cook County, OR larger than the District of Columbia, OR it would be the third largest National Park east of the Mississippi, OR how big is it? But first, please, describe the place.

      Hope you take this as constructive advice. I do appreciate your work. And I do agree that we need more National Parks and other protected areas.

      •  Thank you for the advice Woody (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the way i've been doing it, is  detailing existing areas, before moving to areas i'd like to see added. basically, set up a background of context and fit the new areas in, once thats done. many of the areas i envision as monuments are already protected lands ie  refuges, recreational areas etc, so a simple upgrade is all that's needed. but what i will do is move the proposed monuments further up the page and be more detailed in my descriptions of them going forward. thanks once again. i do appreciate the feedback.

        •  Classic style (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          A serious article in the New York Times or TIME magazine will try to tell the newsy essence of the story in the first few paragraphs. Any reader who wants context and background gets to it further down. But most readers of the Times don't get to the very bottom; they often don't even go to the slop-over of front page stories continued on back pages.

          (I worked with a senior editor who always tried to get a joke or at least a juicy quote into the last paragraph, because, he wanted to reward the reader who made it that far. LOL.)

          It's been sad to see the hard work you do, and the worthy proposals you make, get so few comments. Putting the newsy stuff up high should help get more attention.

          Keep up the good work.

          PS. You can edit your diaries, so you could tell us more about Coastal Bluffs even now. Useful if or when someone follows the links back to your previous diaries. Do that in your spare time, of course. ;-)

  •  Cahokia? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MorrellWI1983, Woody

    I would have surely mentioned Cahokia for an upgrade from a state park.  At it's peak it was one of the most populous cities in the world, which wasn't surpassed in the US until the 1700's.  One of only 21 places in the US that's a UNESCO site.

    It's certainly a lot of work, but I'd investigate some state parks for your series.  Cahokia wouldn't be the only one, but, IMO is much more worthy of additional protection and recognition compared to just expanding Shawnee Forest.  

    I imagine this is a pretty common occurrence in the eastern half of the US.  States recognizing and moving to protect cultural and geographical treasures, before the advent of the NPS.

    •  yes you're right. conservation on the federal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      level didnt start in earnest until the 1870s. before that  folks were more interested in developing the land and putting their footprint on it than protecting it. its why Niagara Falls isnt a national park, because it was developed long before the idea of national parks came around. as for turning Cahokia into a national park,to my knowledge i don't think its ever happened before, where a state park is purchased by the feds and turned into a national park..  there were efforts to turn Adirondacks Park in NY into a national park in the 60s but they never went anywhere, and Mackinac Island in Michigan was actually one of the first national parks (it became one in 1875)before it was abolished and returned to Michigan which made it a state park later. so the reverse of what you're proposing has happened.

      •  Sell the parks (0+ / 0-)

        If a state wants to attract more visitors to its motels, restaurants, service stations, a National Park will do that.  But a state park, not so much.

        National Parks are easily 'sold' tourist attractions. Any would-be visitor knows that a National Park is Something Big, if they know nothing else about it. State parks need much more marketing to get tourists, and probably not one ever reaches the mind share of any National Park.

        State Parks could become National Parks if states straight up sold them to the feds.

        State-level politicians of every stripe could be attracted to cash payment now. Ideally the windfall funds would be used to improve the remaining state park system. But if used to cut taxes on the Koch Brothers oil properties, so be it. Whatever the states decided to do with the money would not harm any parks. They would be secure in the National system.

        •  well, when california closed some of thier parks, (0+ / 0-)

          they passed into the feds hands, as establishment of the parks required the state to protect them in perpetuity, if they could not afford it then the lands were returned to the feds. however. those lands, so far as i am aware have not been made into national parks, but mostly are counted as lands managed by the blm. New york has Adirondacks Park, which is a huge state park, covering more than 6 million acres. its in par with the national parks , imo, and it nearly twice as big as Death Vallety, and roughly the same size as Denali. course, thats the exception, rather than the rule.

          •  Thanks for the backward look but (0+ / 0-)

            I'm proposing a forward-looking plan to fund acquisitions of state parks that met National Park criteria, open to any state wishing to sell, but required of none.

            It would require a Congress willing to spend money, so not in the foreseeable future. But it would actually be helpful in a steep recession or on-going slump, ahem, to give money to the states. They are required to run balanced budgets, good times and bad, and so always cut spending and fire people when the economy needs more jobs and more spending.

            Maybe some tea-baggers would want the feds out and take the money to give to the rich. I don't care. Can I imagine Rick Perry and his crew selling off state parks, like Palo Duro Canyon, to the feds? Sure can.

            Would conservadem Andrew Cuomo sell the Adirondack Park? Not so easy, it's in the state constitution, preserving it as "forever wild."

            Make Niagara a National Park? Great idea. It would get more attention and more visitors if it were a National Park.

            •  I favor creating a new department- Conservation (0+ / 0-)

              take the money out of the military budget and revive the ccc. increase the budgets for the parks and forests, and acquire land though those increased busdgets. say 100 billion for conservation annually, 20 billion per agency within the department.

              •  Let's do it! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                We need bold thinking to get the country moving again. Repub Lite just won't bring the kind of change we need.

                For what it's worth, the CCC probably helped the war effort. The CCC boys were used to working in groups, taking commands, regular hours, physical labor, keeping fit, rough outdoor conditions . . . so when Pearl Harbor was hit, they went into Army training camps a ways ahead of other recruits. Meanwhile, instead of merely marching around the training camps, they had been building worthwhile things, a legacy of park facilities etc that we still enjoy today.

                •  yes, it was designed partly to get the workers (0+ / 0-)

                  into  physical shape for military service, there was a survey during the early years of the depression that a third of the young unemployed men were unfit for military service. remember too, that the inter-war army numbered roughly 100000 the same number Germany was limited to after world war 1. in short our army was tiny,. to go from 100000 to 16 million served over 4 years is nothing short of phenomenal. but yes the ccc helped. in fact it enjoyed 80% approval across the spectrum, and there were calls to make it a permanent agency. if i ever run for congress, i will make reviving it, permanently, part of my campaign.

  •  this series moreover deals with federal areas (0+ / 0-)

    i could do one after this is finished on state areas, although a number of them dont have working internet links so it wont be as easy as getting the federal areas studied. but if there is enough interest in doing that then i will do that. after i examine all the states and territories of the US,

  •  Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Est in 2012, will cover about 11000 in mostly N IL and some in S WI.

  •  thanks for the info Miaco (0+ / 0-)

    I'll edit that in as soon as i find info about it.

  •  well the refuge has been established, but only a (0+ / 0-)

    tiny portion of land has been set aside as of November of last year. its in the process of being established and once that is done it will be open to the public. i'll probably talk about it once i get to Wisconsin, as enough time will likely have passed by then so that  more land should have been bought to increase the refuges size

  •  Alright Just Desserts I'll add it in to the Diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Illinois now has 11 wildlife Refuges.

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