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New Illinois Law Will Help Nature Preserves Recover From Illegal Logging


A new Illinois law ups the penalties for illegal logging in protected areas. 


The Rockford-based Natural Land Institute was one of the organizations that pushed for changes to the state’s Wrongful Tree Cutting Act. Executive director Kerry Leigh says allowing the owners of damaged nature preserves to recoup the full cost of restoration will deter illegal loggers.  

Leigh says, “If the result of someone going in and doing illegal logging is that they now have to pay more, I think this is going to have them take a more careful look at how they're doing their work. And to make sure that they check legal boundaries.”

Seven years ago, the Natural Land Institute was the victim of illegal logging. 61 mature trees were stolen from one of its conservation sites. Under the previous law, victims of illegal logging could only recover three times the value of the wood they lost. The Institute estimates replacing the trees and cleaning up the mess the loggers left will cost nearly $440,000. But the not-for-profit land trust could only recover $165,000.

Leigh calls that “a slap on the wrist” and says damage to conservation areas is more common than she imagined.

Owners of protected areas can recoup the full cost of restoring their land now, after Governor Pritzker signed the changes into law this week.

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Susan’s parents should have known she’d end up in radio: her favorite toys were tape recorders, cameras, notepads, and books. Many years later, she’s an award-winning reporter at her favorite radio station. Formerly WNIJ’s News Director, she asked to return to the role of full-time reporter/anchor/utility player in 2010 (less paperwork, more reporting!). Her #1 goal is to tell the most compelling stories in the fewest words possible…all the better if a little humor can be thrown into the mix. It should come as no surprise, then, that she can whip up a haiku for any occasion. She also enjoys the Detroit Tigers, learning pioneer skills (Gardening, canning, and the like. Just in case.), traveling with friends, and pretending she’s going to get around to playing her theremin.