Sample Letters to Illinois Senators

Photo 4  Lee Mine Project Area, Agripelter 2, Hardin Co  9.10.21.JPG

Sample Letter to
Senator Duckworth

Honorable Senator Tammy Duckworth 

524 Hart Senate Building 

Washington, D.C. 20510 

Dear Senator Duckworth, 

I wish to thank you and Senator Durbin for recognizing the value of recreation in the Shawnee National Forest (SNF) and for taking actions toward protecting all 286,000 acres of the forest. I have worries, as a concerned citizen, a recreational user and a neighbor of the forest, regarding mitigating climate change, protecting the area’s unique natural heritage, and for minimizing government waste. 

Sadly, hundreds of acres of commercial logging projects are either underway or are about to commence within the SNF, including those close to sensitive watersheds and around popular recreation sites. Coupled with the artificial burning of 10,000 –15,000 acres annually on the Shawnee National Forest, agency staff are setting the stage for disaster. These management schemes not only release vast amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere, but logging and burning diminishes the forest’s ability to effectively sequester carbon. Shawnee FS personnel fail to point out that their practices actually create hotter, drier, and more flammable forest conditions, making the relatively wildfire free Shawnee more susceptible to future wildfire. 

The cooling value from the shade of closed canopy eastern forests is well recognized. Scientific studies now document their importance as being most efficient at sequestering atmospheric carbon and remaining as valuable carbon sinks, thereby mitigating climate change impacts from burning fossil fuels. 

To add insult to injury, taxpayers continue to fund these agency schemes via Knutson Vandenberg Act initiatives and Healthy Forest Restoration Act monies which steer Forest Service management toward logging and prescribed fire projects under the faulty, “forest health” premise. Agency claims of logging and extensive burning for forest health and oak regeneration simply defy logic. 

I support your proposed additional and expanded wilderness areas on the forest as proposed by the Shawnee Wilderness Designation Act. I have concerns however, that FS staff will be quick to dismiss the proposal due to a lack of sites with sufficient wilderness characteristics. 

As such, please also consider legislation to designate the precious Shawnee as the nation’s first Climate Change Preserve. This would shift management away from the USDA and the Forest Service’s production-based mindset and into the more appropriate US Department of the Interior, Park Service. 

Stopping the current logging and large-scale burning projects on the Shawnee will help offset rising local and global temperatures and will demonstrate a commitment to addressing the existential threat facing humanity - climate change. It will also help reduce wildfire danger and invigorate a tourism-based economy. As Illinois’ only national forest, this change could help President Biden in his commitment to the UN’s IPCC Report “30 X 30” initiative. Now is clearly the time for change. 

Please consider designating the Shawnee Climate Change Preserve not only as Illinois’ carbon sink, but also for scenic beauty, for watershed protection, wildlife habitat and for multiple recreation uses (i.e. hiking, horseback riding, biking, wildlife watching, camping, hunting, fishing, rock climbing and boating). Stopping past destructive management would help the forest recover, prevent future wildfires and truly serve the greatest good. Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Sincerely, 

Sample Letter to 
Senator Durbin

Honorable Senator Richard Durbin 

711 Hart Senate Building 

Washington, D.C. 20510 

Dear Senator Durbin, 

I wish to thank you and Senator Duckworth for recognizing the value of recreation in the Shawnee National Forest (SNF) and for taking actions toward protecting all 286,000 acres of the forest. I have worries, as a concerned citizen, a recreational user and a neighbor of the forest, regarding mitigating climate change, protecting the area’s unique natural heritage, and for minimizing government waste. 

Sadly, hundreds of acres of commercial logging projects are either underway or are about to commence within the SNF, including those close to sensitive watersheds and around popular recreation sites. Coupled with the artificial burning of 10,000 –15,000 acres annually on the Shawnee National Forest, agency staff are setting the stage for disaster. These management schemes not only release vast amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere, but logging and burning diminishes the forest’s ability to effectively sequester carbon. Shawnee FS personnel fail to point out that their practices actually create hotter, drier, and more flammable forest conditions, making the relatively wildfire free Shawnee more susceptible to future wildfire. 

The cooling value from the shade of closed canopy eastern forests is well recognized. Scientific studies now document their importance as being most efficient at sequestering atmospheric carbon and remaining as valuable carbon sinks, thereby mitigating climate change impacts from burning fossil fuels. 

To add insult to injury, taxpayers continue to fund these agency schemes via Knutson Vandenberg Act initiatives and Healthy Forest Restoration Act monies which steer Forest Service management toward logging and prescribed fire projects under the faulty, “forest health” premise. Agency claims of logging and extensive burning for forest health and oak regeneration simply defy logic. 

I support your proposed additional and expanded wilderness areas on the forest as proposed by the Shawnee Wilderness Designation Act. I have concerns however, that FS staff will be quick to dismiss the proposal due to a lack of sites with sufficient wilderness characteristics. 

As such, please also consider legislation to designate the precious Shawnee as the nation’s first Climate Change Preserve. This would shift management away from the USDA and the Forest Service’s production-based mindset and into the more appropriate US Department of the Interior, Park Service. 

Stopping the current logging and large-scale burning projects on the Shawnee will help offset rising local and global temperatures and will demonstrate a commitment to addressing the existential threat facing humanity - climate change. It will also help reduce wildfire danger and invigorate a tourism-based economy. As Illinois’ only national forest, this change could help President Biden in his commitment to the UN’s IPCC Report “30 X 30” initiative. Now is clearly the time for change. 

Please consider designating the Shawnee Climate Change Preserve not only as Illinois’ carbon sink, but also for scenic beauty, for watershed protection, wildlife habitat and for multiple recreation uses (i.e. hiking, horseback riding, biking, wildlife watching, camping, hunting, fishing, rock climbing and boating). Stopping past destructive management would help the forest recover, prevent future wildfires and truly serve the greatest good.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, 

Photo 3 Lee Mine Project Area, Agripelter 2, Hardin Co  9.10.21.JPG