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Green Cities

In recent years, Illinois' population and development have primarily occurred in suburban areas on the fringes of larger metropolitan areas. The trend it to have larger houses and lot sizes, which increases the amount of developed land and degrades and fragments already limited wildlife habitat. Many urban areas experience flooding, water quality impairments, exposure to invasive species, and other pollution through heat and atmospheric pollutants. The Green Cities Campaign is working to improve community planning efforts by include open space and wildlife needs into the plans. Additionally, the Campaign is addressing urban area use in migration routes, and promoting habitat protection and restoration whenever possible.
Measuring progress​

Goals and Actions

  1. Minimize the adverse effects associated with development on wildlife and habitats.
    1. promote coordination among federal, state and county resource agencies, regional planning agencies, and private conservation groups to promote comprehensive resource planning
    2. work with the conservation community to enable county and local units of government, citizens and stakeholders to develop strategic planning that protects, preserves and enhances natural resources and their vital ecosystem functions
    3. mitigate loss, degradation and fragmentation of important wildlife habitats due to development
  2. Integrate wildlife and habitat conservation in developed areas
    1. promote green infrastructure planning with local agencies and jurisdictions that enables:
      1. creation of large preserves and protection of priority area and remnant communities
      2. creation of community mosaics
      3. protection of priority areas, especially high-quality areas, creation of landscape linkages that connect and expand existing natural areas
    2. provide interagency outreach and technical assistance for property owners and local units of government to establish and manage wildlife habitat, habitat linkages within developed areas
    3. administer and expand open space and park development grants and urban forestry programs and coordinate with federal and private funders to provide greatest wildlife and habitat benefit
    4. provide inter-agency and inter-jurisdictional coordination, educational materials, and permit reviews for addressing human-wildlife conflicts in urban areas to local jurisdictions
  3. Increase water quality education efforts in areas under high development pressure and/or within fragile geographic zones (i.e., karst terrain).
    1. Coordinate with IEPA and USEPA on Clean Water Act legislation
      1. work with NPDES and MS4 communities
      2. coordinate with subwatershed planning to incorporate natural resource planning
      3. promote riverside resource-sensitive development/buffers and increased access to rivers
    2. implement projects from subwatershed plans and other integrated comprehensive plans
    3. promote adoption of resource-sensitive policies and ordinances, stormwater fees, imperviousness standards
  4. Make natural areas conservation, ecology and environmental education a mandatory part of school curricula.
  5. Fill information gaps and develop conservation actions to address stresses.
    1. study urban boundaries and growth patterns, in relation to important habitats and species locations, to inform land and water protection decisions
    2. determine value of urban areas for migration and climate change adaptation for species located and utilizing in areas
    3. better understand the rural-urban interface and improve actions with respect to deer, mesopredators (e.g., cats, raccoons), human-wildlife conflicts, invasive species, recruitment, dispersal and survival of wildlife, and infrastructure (e.g., roads)
    4. develop effective strategies for deer harvest in urban and suburban settings
  6. Increase access to open lands and waters within and near urban areas for wildlife-related recreation.
    1. work with other local land-holding and open space agencies who share common recreational mission
    2. direct IDNR concentration to heavily populated areas and areas of high usage by constituents

Priority Places for Work

Urban areas and heavily populated area with high resource value including:

  • NE Moraine (Chicago metropolitan) area with high resource value under development pressure
  • East St Louis and Karst area
  • Illinois River areas
  • Mississippi area under development pressure
  • Rockford/Rock River area
  • Peoria Area
  • Ramsar and AGO areas
  • Other as identified

IDNR parks and state-managed sites with:

First Tier criteria:

  • High Volume attendance
  • High resource value
  • Urban Parks
  • Ramsar status
  • Designated America's Great Outdoors (AGO)
  • Migration/flyway
  • Landscape linkages / climate change strategies

Second Tier criteria:

  • Volume attendance
  • High resource value area
  • River system high resource
  • Migration/flyway
  • Landscape linkages/climate change strategies


  • NLI
  • IDNR,
  • USFWS,
  • Iowa DNR,
  • WDNR,
  • Conservation Districts,
  • Forest Preserve Districts,
  • County Governments and local municipal governments,
  • Chicago Wilderness,
  • SW IL RC&D,
  • Mississippi River groups,
  • Blufflands Alliance,
  • other RC & Ds, and Regional Planning Agencies in Chicago, Rockford, St. Louis, and Peoria areas. Also the Campaign works with Land Conservancies, NGOs such as Prairie Rivers, Metropolitan Planning Agency, Openlands, Delta and TNC, and with state growth planning and transportation agencies including IDOT, DCEO, IEPA on coordinated efforts.


Lynn Boerman
Northern Illinois Coordinator
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
2050 W. Stearns Rd.
Bartlett, IL 60103
Office (847) 608-3162​