The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government. Because an open and accountable government is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy, the League advocates for government transparency and freedom of information to keep citizens educated about government actions. While we do not support or oppose any political party or candidate, we do act after study and member agreement on key community issues at all government levels.
The Elgin Area League of Women Voters has just completed a two-year Study of Potential Gravel Mining in the Brunner Forest Preserve of the Kane County Forest Preserve District. The study was approved on March 21, 2012 by a membership consensus meeting. The expanded scope of study for 2012-2013 was approved at the annual meeting of the LWV Elgin Area on April 30, 2012.
The study was undertaken when, as records show, the Kane County Forest Preserve District began looking at the possibility of mining for gravel in the Brunner property. The LWVEA Committee investigated the questions: What were the economic, environmental, and social policy issues of gravel mining in a forest preserve?
The Kane County Forest Preserve District is entrusted with an important mission:
To acquire, hold, and maintain lands within Kane County that contribute to the preservation of natural and historic resources, habitats, flora, and fauna; and to restore, restock, protect and preserve such lands for the education, recreation, and pleasure of all its citizens.”
The Position Statement, based upon findings reached in the course of this study, is:
- Gravel mining is inappropriate in Brunner Forest Preserve or any other forest preserve.
- The extraction and sale of natural resources, whether gravel, coal, timber, natural gas or water, is inconsistent with the mission of the forest preserve.
- The Downstate Forest Preserve Act should be amended to prohibit mining in forest preserves, while exempting previous or current mining operations.
- Public access and transparency issues continue to be problematical at the Kane County Forest Preserve.
- Certain land use decisions by the Kane County Forest Preserve raise questions of “mission drift” from the stated goal of preserving and restoring the nature of Kane County that deserve further study.
This study was intended to discern the facts behind the controversy and to examine the possible conflicts of interest illustrated by this case. It is in no way an indictment of the good work done by the Forest Preserve Commissioners and staff. Rather, it is intended to point out a perceived problem and suggest a course correction.
It is our hope that the results of this Study will serve as the basis for a discussion of how to maintain the focus of our forest preserve districts on their mission, which is to preserve and protect natural areas.
Comments may be sent to LWVEA-BrunnerFP-Study@comcast.net.
What is a consensus?
It is easier to say what consensus is not, than what it is. Consensus is not a vote; rather, consensus is mutual agreement of League members arrived at through discussion. During discussion, everyone has an opportunity to express their viewpoints, and the issue is examined from all sides. Consensus questions, created by the appropriate study committee and approved by the Board, provide structure for the meeting. Members discuss the pros and cons until it becomes apparent that consensus has/has not been reached on each question. The study committee analyzes the consensus responses and, using this information, creates a position statement.
Here is a summary of what a consensus is per the LWVUS (read more at http://www.lwv.org/content/introduction-study-process)