Post-election, Watching the River Flow: Impact, Illinois outdoors

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Still life, post-election along the banks of the river at Kankakee River State Park.
Credit: Dale Bowman

I could’ve, should’ve, gone fishing and ranging with Norm Minas on Tuesday.

Would’ve been better than focusing on the election, which rendered mostly harmful impacts, locally and nationally, in the outdoors.

Most immediate impact comes from the overwhelming approval by Illinois voters, nearly 80 percent, of the Illinois Transportation Taxes and Fees Lockbox Amendment.

The constitutional amendment sounds like a no-brainer, transportation funds restricted to transportation. Nothing’s that simple in Illinois. It could potentially cost the Illinois Department of Natural Resources $30 million dollars, among other tangential impacts.

The Sun-Times’ Rosalind Rossi, in an article about broader impacts, wrote that the amendment would probably take effect on Dec. 5, after the State Board of Elections certifies the results and Gov. Bruce Rauner issues a proclamation declaring the results. Direct impact would not come until after stop-gap funding is done early next year.

IDNR staff is evaluating the impact but has “no timeline’’ at this time. If $30 million, it would be a death blow and could cost Illinois millions more in matching federal funding.

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly told Rossi that “the administration is reviewing the amendment and how it will impact our state agencies” but its passage highlights the importance of passing “a balanced budget with meaningful reforms.”

I suspect funding for the IDNR would be cobbled together, which makes me wonder why there isn’t a lockbox for funding the IDNR, education and other vital state expenditures.

Nationally, neither major presidential candidate were notable for strong stands on outdoors issues. Hillary Clinton at least showed understanding of climate change.

Donald Trump and Sarah Palin in 2013

Donald Trump and Sarah Palin in 2013

President-elect Donald Trump looks like a potential oil spill on outdoors issues. Politico, in its post-election assessment of possible cabinet positions, has Forrest Lucas, co-founder of Lucas Oil, as a leading possibility for Secretary of Interior. And Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., at least a hunter and outdoorsman (though not of my ilk), might be another possibility. Sarah Palin would love to be Secretary of Interior.

So I understand why Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, came out with this as part of an overheated fundraising note:

I know this doesn’t feel real. It is. We have to treat every minute like we know it is real. We will not — we cannot — stop fighting. If we do, we will lose everything we’ve fought for. End of Paris Climate deal. End of the EPA. End of Federal Clean Energy. More drilling. More coal. More pipelines. Lives destroyed. Wildlife bulldozed. And so much more.

And I understand why every morning since the election, I’ve extended to a 2 1/2-mile ramble with Lady, our family’s mutt. Might as well turn worry and fear healthy.

Thursday, I did what I often do to sooth my soul. Sat at a favorite picnic table by the edge of the water at Kankakee River State Park. Watched the river flow. Drank coffee from my camo Thermos. Smashed on iron-skillet upside-down cake (enjoying the symbolism as much as the cake) a church lady made special for me.

Time to get on with life.

* * *

Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street Who just couldn’t help but cry Oh, this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though No matter . . .

Ending of Nobel laureate Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow”

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