From the beginning, Joe Duggan was in the coalition that finally pushed through dedicated funding for conservation efforts in Minnesota, finally pushed it through after a decade of work.
How that worked from start to passage by the voters on Nov. 4, 2008 was the basis of my outdoors column in the Sun-Times on Sunday. I think it is the only way to make certain places like Kickapoo State Park (above) continue to offer public access to a wide variety of outdoor pursuits.
I happened to be hunting pheasants on opening day in early November with Duggan, a vice-president with Pheasants Forever. The night before I had a chance to pick his brain after a chili-supper fundraiser.
Ten years it took to pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in a state like Minnesota with a rich history of care for natural resources. I found that really discouraging, because ultimately dedicated funding may be the only stable answer for long-term care of natural resources at the state level in Illinois.
Then I dropped Brent Manning, the former IDNR director (and longest serving) and he offered some encouragement:
It would probably be necessary to target [five to seven] years out to accomplish this needed goal. A statewide referendum may be needed, but whatever must be done is certainly worth the effort.
Manning offered suggestions other than just the usual increase in state sales tax as funding options. I will explore those ideas and similar ones in another column.
I really don't see another stable option. despite protests from several readers that another tax is the last thing Illinois has the right to put on its citizens.