Farmers in the Kankakee area have raised concerns about the refuge since the 1990s, and those opinions have not been incorporated into the refuge planning process in any meaningful way. Because of that, farmers in the area feel a real sense of defeat toward their own federal government.

The sad thing is that they’re using our tax dollars against us.

Kankakee County farmer


When immense local opposition to a project is shown, and those concerns are not addressed or even acknowledged, local citizens lose heart. Farmers have many other concerns about how the US Fish & Wildlife Service proceeds with a wildlife refuge:

  • Years and years of planning, drastically changing plans and proceeding anyway
  • Years and years of planning without publishing a plan for the public
  • Cutting ribbons and celebrating without a plan for the public
  • A changing Presidential administration that halts progress (and answers) for years
  • Accepting donations of land from conservation groups without public knowledge
  • Taking advantage of foreclosed or abandoned properties for the purposes of the refuge
  • Potentially taking away local tax base and forgoing payments due to a lacking budget
  • Land changes resulting in reduced land values in the area and for neighbors
  • Broad-stroke regulations for refuges that don’t fit the local environment
  • Accumulating more land before or without maximizing conservation value on land that is already set aside for that purpose
  • The agency being unable to adequately address mitigation needs of adjacent neighbors dealing with flooded land, weed or fire pressure, or wildlife nuisance issues due to the refuge


Policy 41: Eminent Domain

We support “that a public hearing is held before any land could be optioned or purchased by a public body for any purpose.”

Policy 43: Governmental Property Acquisition & Ownership

We support prohibiting “additional purchases of real estate for recreational or preservation purposes by any level of government unless the property remains on the local tax rolls at the prevailing tax rates and prevailing assessed value of similar local properties.”

We support “limiting state and federal agencies in their purchase of additional recreational or wildlife habitat until existing sites, other than farmland, are developed and maintained for the purpose for which they were intended.”

We oppose “the formation of any state or federal wildlife refuges, recreational or conservation areas until such time as the boundaries of such projects are clearly defined, and the property targeted for acquisition is clearly identified.”

We oppose “the formation of state or national wildlife refuges, creation or conservation areas that impede the existing natural and artificial drainage systems of landowners in the watershed.”

We oppose “the creation or expansion of local, state, and federal refuges, recreational or conservation areas when the aggregate acreage of such proposed focus areas account for more than two percent of the county’s farmland.”

Policy 45: Land Use and Farmland Preservation

We support “requiring consideration of the impact on agriculture and the local tax base and the desires of local voters in proposals to take agricultural lands for any public use.”

We support “the consideration of impacts on farmland in the development of Environmental Impact Statements as being as significant as the impacts to other environmentally sensitive areas.”

Policy 47: Private Property Rights

We believe in the sanctity of private property and individual rights as provided by the U.S. Constitution, as the basis of American freedom and progress. Private property should be defined to include all land, timber or other valuable considerations associated with land ownership.