Our Forest Preserve lands account for nearly 26,000 acres of land and 47 miles of rivers and streams within DuPage County. Focusing resources on improving our land, restoring native habitats and waterways is a mission I firmly stand behind. With changes in our weather patterns, we are seeing greater flooding often followed by extreme droughts along with subzero winter temperatures. Our preserves are a great place to track plants and trees that are struggling under these more severe weather conditions and help guide our residents in a more sustainable future. Currently our preserves assist our local communities with storm water management, especially for properties along rivers and lakes, that it vital in flood control.
Currently our Forest Preserve Commissioners earn $50,000 per year. I feel it would be a reasonable first step to cut that salary by 25% to $37,000 per year. Commissioners are also offered healthcare. If elected I would refuse my option of healthcare and advocate for commissioners not to have a healthcare option. I would much rather those funds go to help raise salary and insurance funding for Forest Preserve employees.
With the West Branch River Trail near the final stages of completion, The East Branch DuPage River Trail is currently in the planning stage. The EBDRT will run parallel to I-355 and will link the Great Western Trail, Illinois Prairie Path and the Morton Arboretum. This project will not require any land acquisition as it will use right of ways and other government property and will help to not only link our preserves, but also the communities of Lombard, Glen Ellyn and Lisle.
The educational opportunities our DuPage Forest Preserve offers is exceptional. As someone who grew up enjoying the some of the wonderful programs that helped foster my love of nature and wildlife, I know personally how much it can impact children and their appreciation of our wild spaces. As a volunteer for the DuPage Forest Preserve, I have personally experienced these educational programs which continue to build and bring science into the field as well as wonderful history programs. Even the continued education for volunteers has brought in wonderful scientists from other institutions to help guide many of us in programs such as the natural resources department. As a commissioner, I will always strive to find ways to continue the educational services our Forest Preserve offers to our community, and look at ways to grow that outreach throughout DuPage County.
As the Forest Preserve continues to meet new building and redevelop older buildings, solar should be a natural part of that development. Part of the Forest Preserve's mission is to ensure financial and operational sustainability, and solar fits into that model as well as the commitment to responsible and sustainable preservation of our lands for current and future generations