The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) strongly impacts the economy of the State of Illinois. From State Parks to outdoor recreation to regulation and permitting, the economic benefits of IDNR activities reach statewide. Activities associated with IDNR support 90,000 jobs and at least $32 billion worth of economic impact annually.
In addition, IDNR activities and functions support Illinois’ most important priorities:
• Protecting lives and property
• Providing quality education and opportunities for all Illinois residents
• Improving government efficiency and stability
• Enhancing Illinoisans’ quality of life
IDNR carries out its mission though the management of the following offices, programs and facilities:
Offices & Programs
Architecture, Engineering and Grants
Architecture, Engineering and Grants manages and executes the IDNR capital program through construction projects at IDNR sites, and administers and coordinates grants to local governments managing $94 million in recreational/matching grant programs facilitating construction, development and land acquisition to spur local economic development and tourism.
In 2013, the office provided more than 1,450 employment opportunities to youth and young adults through the Illinois Youth Recreation Corps grants for the Illinois Conservation Jobs and Training Program.
Coastal Management Program
The Coastal Management Program (CMP) administers the Coastal and Great Lakes programs by channeling federal dollars from NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management Program and USEPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to protect and enhance Lake Michigan’s natural resources. The office administers the Coastal Grants Program, which provides $1 million per year to government agencies and non-profits for coastal education and outreach, sustainable planning, habitat and wetland restoration, and invasive species management. CMP’s Coastal Interpretive Program is expanding educational and recreational opportunities at Illinois Beach State Park, William Powers State Recreation Area, and other key coastal locations. A primary focus for this program is connecting urban youth to the outdoors. Through the Mighty Acorns program, CMP has provided new outdoor experiences for more than 1,200 children in the Calumet region.
Community Outreach reaches out to African-American and Latino populations, concentrating on youth programming, for increased understanding of urban conservation and environmental education.
In addition, Community Outreach administers:
• Leave No Child Inside: A statewide initiative engaging families and youth in outdoor recreational opportunities by partnering with local park districts, community and faith-based organizations.
• Under Illinois Skies: A partnership with local community organizations where families experience an outdoor adventure while camping at an Illinois State Park.
• Urban Adventure Days: A partnership with summer camps, school programs and park districts providing hands-on STEM learning and outdoor recreational experiences.
• Community Conservation Project: A program providing soil, seeds and trees to community gardens as a sustainable and healthy local food source to combat urban food deserts
• Urban Collegiate Conservation Internship Program, a field-based, pilot program for fostering conservation professionals.
Land Management manages and maintains 329 state-owned and leased state parks, fish and wildlife areas, state forests, state trails, natural areas and recreational sites; with 39.4 million visits annually, these sites contribute nearly $1 billion in visitor spending and support 8,500 jobs statewide. Outdoor recreation opportunities such as boating, camping, fishing, hunting, picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife observation, swimming and trail use create a $3.2 billion annual economic impact in Illinois, supporting 33,000 jobs statewide. The recreational opportunities provided by IDNR offer an improved quality of life for our residents. These opportunities, in a great part, help address childhood obesity and other critical health conditions in Illinois.
Illinois Conservation Police (CPO’s) have full, statewide police powers, with the primary goal of protecting our citizens and State’s natural resources. CPOs duties include:
• Protection of our fish, wildlife and forestry resources including enforcement of regulations designed to prevent the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species.
• Enforcement of boating, snowmobiling, and ATV laws.
• Protecting residents by enforcing traffic and criminal laws in Illinois State Parks and other IDNR lands.
• Serve as members of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, are involved in Homeland Security efforts, drug prevention operations, and environmental enforcement.
• Front line responders to natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, blizzards and drownings.
• Non-enforcement functions such as boating, hunting and snowmobile safety education, working with constituent groups and assisting and training other agencies.
Mines and Minerals
Mines and Minerals permits the State’s coal and aggregate mining industries and enforces various acts that govern these industries. The office regulates mine safety, mine reclamation, mine blasting, and industrial and personal explosive use and storage; as well as, oversees the Abandoned Mined Land Reclamation program. The coal and aggregate industries generate approximately $3 billion annually in revenue and create 50,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Oil and Gas Resource Management
Oil and Gas Resource Management is the regulatory authority in Illinois for permitting, drilling, operating, and plugging oil and gas production wells. The office implements the Illinois Oil and Gas Act and enforces standards for the construction and operation of related production equipment and facilities. The office will also have responsibility for the regulation of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations under the newly enacted Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act.
In addition, the Oil and Gas Resource Management regulates the injection of fluids into Class II underground injection wells, through the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program, and cleans up abandoned well sites through the Plugging Restoration Fund (PRF) and Landowner Grant Programs.
Through these three programs, the office ensures the protection and proper development of Illinois' oil and gas resources, while protecting Illinois' environment, land and water resources.
Realty and Environmental Planning
Realty and Environmental Planning manages all IDNR land acquisition and other property interests; negotiates and administers more than 1,500 concessions, land leases, rights of way, special permits, utility licenses and other agreements covering all owned or managed IDNR properties.
Approximately 5,000 economic development projects are reviewed annually to ensure no adverse impacts to threatened and endangered species, wetlands, historic and cultural resources to facilitate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic growth statewide. In addition, Realty and Environmental Planning:
• Provides planning for greenways and trail sites, capital budget and land review, and park road projects which have economic development and tourism benefits in urban and rural communities.
• Protects public safety by evaluating and responding to pollution on IDNR-owned land, as well as assessing injuries and performing restoration on lands and waterways held in trust for the State.
Resource Conservation manages the state’s fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, trapping, commercial forestry, commercial fisheries, endangered and threatened species, and natural heritage protection programs. Programs are supported largely through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and the investment in Illinois of millions of dollars in federal fish and wildlife restoration program funds, federal wildlife grants, and US Department of Agricultural land conservation funds (e.g., Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program).
The office also directs multi-agency assessment and response to the Asian carp invasion in the Chicago Area Waterway System minimizing the need to close shipping locks and preserving the economic viability of billions of dollars of trade of the commercial and industrial uses of the canal system. In addition, Resource Conservation supports development of commercially viable Asian carp products.
Strategic Services facilitates IDNR’s most significant economic impact through license and permit sales generating $40 million for the State, special events attracting hundreds of thousands of tourism visits and management of educational programs. $2.1 billion is annually spent in Illinois on hunting and fishing, enough to support 22,000 jobs and a $700 million annual payroll. In addition, the office distributes approximately 1 million publications each year.
The office also operates the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, which has provided 3.5 million meals to needy residents of Illinois, and the Target Hunger Now! program that has fed more than 1,000 people. Over the past year, donations to these programs have increased by 20 percent. In addition, the office manages the four Mandatory Safety Education Programs which certify more than 20,000 students yearly. The Division of Education reaches more than 300,000 students, teachers and other educators annually. Plus, the office distributes 1.5 million pieces of natural resources teaching tools to educators.
Water Resources oversees the Lake Michigan water allocation program which supplies 330 billion gallons of water annually, serving 7 million people in more than 200 communities, sustaining homes, businesses and the regional economy of northeast Illinois. In addition, the office:
• Administers the state water supply in the Carlyle, Shelbyville, Rend and Kinkaid reservoirs, supporting more than $10 billion in downstate economic activity.
• Protects 4.4 million acres of land by ensuring the sufficiency of engineering designs of levees and levee modifications under the IDNR’s regulatory oversight protecting approximately 1 million acres of agricultural land valued at $5.6 billion and $543 million in annual commodities.
• Regulates construction in the floodways of rivers and streams and shore waters of Lake Michigan and all other Illinois public waters.
• Coordinates the National Flood Insurance Program saving Illinois residents $1.2 million in reduced premiums on 11,000 policies.
• Works cooperatively with communities to reduce flood risks and to ensure strong local stormwater and floodplain management
Illinois State Museum
The Illinois State Museum’s six educational facilities annually attract more than 375,000 individuals, including urban and underserved rural populations, over 1,600 teachers and 23,000 students from across Illinois, plus international tourists. Visitors to the Museum facilities and programs spend about $30 million in Illinois communities each year. The facilities serve an additional 116,000 students and other individuals through off-site programs and special events. More than 1.8 million online visitors, including teachers, students, and individuals from throughout the world, learn about Illinois through the Illinois State Museum's award-winning website.
World Shooting and Recreational Complex
The world’s largest and most prestigious shooting event, the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s Grand American Trapshooting Championship, is hosted at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex. It serves as a significant economic engine for southern Illinois, generating approximately $25 million in annual revenue to the regional economy.