Sponsors plan to end state ownership

WILDLIFEPARKSPRINGFIELD – Years of less-than-adequate state funding have taken their toll on Wildlife Prairie State Park. The 2,000 acre park, which allows the people of Illinois to see the state's indigenous wildlife in a natural setting, has survived the state's budget cuts largely due to the efforts of Friends of Wildlife Prairie State Park, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the park's mission of promoting conservation, education and recreation. State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is sponsoring legislation that will permanently transfer ownership of the park to the Friends board.

"We can't allow Wildlife Prairie State Park to fall prey to Illinois' budget woes," Koehler said. "Friends of Wildlife Prairie State Park will keep this important Peoria-area landmark open for our friends and children to enjoy for years to come."

Despite Koehler's best efforts to get funding for the park reinstated, the state has been unable to provide significant financial resources to the park for the past three years, a situation unlikely to change in the near future.

Though the state is transferring ownership of the park to the Friends group, the legal agreement requires the group to keep the park open to the public and to maintain its current mission.

Koehler's measure has passed the Illinois House and the Senate Agriculture Committee. It is poised to pass the Senate and is supported by the governor. Koehler sponsored a similar plan last year, but it stalled in the Illinois House.

Category: Press Releases

koehler0411SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) has passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate that strongly encourages hunters to donate the meat from the game animals they kill if they aren't going to eat it themselves.

"Our state has a very successful program to allow hunters to donate meat when they don't want to eat it themselves," Koehler said. "There's no reason to leave perfectly good food to rot while there are families throughout the state going hungry."

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources operates the highly successful Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program, which allows hunters to donate venison and other meat to food banks and other charities throughout Illinois. The program has provided 3.5 million meals to hungry families. To learn more about the program or to find a local participating meat processor, visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.

"I've seen hunters leave three or four partially butchered deer along the road, in view of everyone that drives by. We hope to encourage hunters to donate deer to the Sportsmen Against Hunger Program," said Sergeant Jamie Mauler, who works for the department.

Specifically, Koehler's proposal:

  • Prohibits throwing away edible, easily processed meat from game animals that hunters don't want to keep for themselves. This specifically includes unspoiled breast meat of birds and front and back haunches of mammals.
  • Prohibits dumping or abandoning the carcasses of animals killed by hunters on public property (or private property without the permission of the owner).
  • Establishes that violators of this law can be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor.
Category: News

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Members of the Pekin Chamber of Commerce Leadership School visited the Capitol on Tuesday. After getting their picture taken on the Senate floor, the group met with Senator Koehler and then sat in on the Agriculture and Conservation Committee. (click photo to enlarge)

Category: Latest

GMOlabelSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) believes that the people of Illinois have a right to know what they're eating. That's why he's proposed a new law that will require companies to notify consumers when their products contain genetically engineered organisms.

"The food we eat has a profound impact on our health," said Koehler, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "People deserve to know what they're eating."

Over the past several decades, biological science and our understanding of genetics has increased in leaps and bounds, empowering scientists to change the DNA of plants and animals. They've used this technology in a variety of ways to help farmers produce more food more easily and cheaply. For example, one of the most common genetic modifications makes crops like corn and soybeans more pest resistant.

However, some people are concerned that genetically engineered food might have an adverse effect on their health. Others are concerned about the effect on the environment.

"This legislation isn't about saying genetically engineered foods are good or bad," Koehler said. "It's just about labeling. We already require food labels to disclose when a product contains dairy or nuts, for example. To me, disclosing genetic engineering is exactly the same."

Koehler intends to put his legislation in a subcommittee and hold further hearings later this year.

"I realize that labeling genetically engineering food is a controversial issue with passionate advocates who make good arguments on both sides," Koehler added. "We need to give them an opportunity to debate the idea in a public forum, so we can all be better informed."

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
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Springfield, IL 62706
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