August 16, 2005

Blagojevich Funds Critical Illinois River Program

Some welcome good conservation budget news comes today with the Illinois DNR calling for applications for farmers to participate in an innovative program to cut pollution in the Illinois River, create wildlife habitat, and provide income to farmers.

Blagojevich is making $10 million in capital funds available for the effort, as he proposed in his budget address last winter. The $10 million made available today will also leverage $40 million in federal funds, making it an unbeatable investment for today’s taxpayers and for future generations. By helping farmers protect fragile areas along the Illinois River and the creeks and rivers that flow into it, we can make major cuts in the amount of soil, pesticides, and fertilizers flowing into the River, provide a source of income to farmers, and create thousands of acres of habitat for waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife.

Since the program, known as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP, began in 1998, 110,000 acres have been set aside. The goal of the program is to reduce soil runoff into the Illinois River by 20%, or one million tons per year. State funding for CREP had been cut during the state's recent severe budget problems, so making $10 million available this fiscal year is an important milestone.

Good work by Governor Blagojevich, the IDNR, and Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, who chairs the Illinois River Coordinating Council and has champoined this program.

You can learn more about the program (including how to apply if you are a farmer in the targetted areas) at

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