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March 25, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan's "Open Land Trust" initiative to acquire and protect open space for future generations was approved today without objection by the Illinois Senate and now moves on for consideration by the House of Representatives.

Under the program, contained in Senate Bill 1087, land would be acquired by the state and local governments for conservation and recreation purposes.

"This legislation will significantly increase Illinois' ability to set aside land for open space to benefit our grandchildren and the generations that follow," Ryan said. "Illinois ranks almost dead last among the states in the amount of public lands for its residents. We can and should do better."

Currently, the state budgets just $3 million annually for the acquisition of natural areas. Over the past seven years, however, as much as 70 percent of those funds have been diverted for other state expenditures. To compound the problem, Illinois exhausted its bonding for general land acquisition three years ago.

The Illinois Open Land Trust is a $160 million program that will provide $40 million per year over the next four years. The Governor included the first year funding for the program in his Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposal.

The program provides much needed state funds for land acquisition, as well as a combination of grants and loans to local governments for open space protection. It also provides for partnerships with non-governmental organizations provided lands acquired with state funds remain in governmental ownership.

Local governments in rural areas where the state purchases land would be provided with community planning grants for capital projects.

All land acquired through this program would be from willing sellers only.

Senate Bill 1087 is sponsored by Senators Doris Karpiel, R-Carol Stream; Steven Rauschenberger, R-Elgin; James "Pate" Philip, R-Wood Dale; Dick Klemm, R-Crystal Lake and Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville.


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