In 1972, Illinois' first Endangered Species Protection Act passed, creating the Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB) consisting of 9 members who are appointed by the Governor. The ESPB set in place a structure that prioritized science and kept the board independent from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The budget of the ESPB was zeroed out by IDNR at the end of 2015 and the director was fired. While the ESPB is now being staffed by other agency personnel, it is critical that the board be able to make independent decisions and request independent scientific review from IDNR. This bill gives the board the authority to hire its own director. Without appropriate oversight, protection of the 480 animals on the endangered and threatened species list - and those that might be added in the future - are at risk. The bill passed committee 7-1-1.