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The Conservation Foundation
10 S 404 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL 60565
(630) 428-4500
Fax: (630) 428-4599

For Immediate Release
Date: June 17, 2005
Contact: Brook McDonald, President/CEO
Phone: (630) 428-4500
Fax: (630) 428-4599


Naperville, IL - The Conservation Foundation announced today the launch of an aggressive new open space protection initiative called Protect Kendall Now!, a vital and needed two-year project that will address the rapid increase in Kendall County's land development and population by increasing the pace of land conservation in the county.

Joining The Conservation Foundation in the initiative are other non-profit conservation groups, including the Fox Valley Land Foundation. The Protect Kendall Now! Coalition also includes Kendall County's forest preserve district, its county board, area municipalities and park districts.

"This need is beyond urgent," said The Conservation Foundation's President and CEO Brook McDonald.

"Kendall County is the second fastest growing county in the US, and the first in Illinois. In the next 25 years, Kendall's population will increase by 140 percent. Hundreds of acres each year are filling with thousands of new homes. Joliet's developments alone will bring 76,000 new residents to Kendall."

Kendall County is struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of change taking place, McDonald said. Very few would argue that planning efforts at every level of government are at best a mosaic of good ideas that need to be joined and unified. Protected land such as forest preserves, parks, or privately protected natural areas and farms, comprise just 1.5 percent of Kendall's total area. In stark contrast is DuPage County, which has nearly 20 percent of all its land in some way protected from development.

That's an important fact because Kendall is now starting to see the kind of development that DuPage County has experienced for the past four to five decades.

McDonald said the Protect Kendall Now! initiative will improve land use planning by: identifying high quality undeveloped land along with those who own these land; forging relationships with those owners who are interested in land preservation; ensuring these greenways and natural areas are adequately addressed in municipal land use plans; and laying a foundation on which future county leaders can build a solid and ongoing open space land acquisition plan.

Protect Kendall Now! also seeks to raise the understanding among the general public of sustainable development and reveal how open space is vital to building healthy communities. McDonald said it's fortunate that many existing residents already support the idea of protecting open space. Besides the 2002 passage of a $5 million forest preserve referendum, polling also shows one of the top concerns among Kendall residents is growth and its affect on water resources.

"With the start of Protect Kendall Now!, we are at the dawn of a greater future for Kendall County, one that includes beautiful green towns in which to live and raise families, one with precious and protected high quality waterways, and one with an open space legacy that ensures a high quality of life for generations to come," said John Church, Kendall County Board Chairman.

Protect Kendall Now! is being funded through private grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, in addition to other private funds from The Conservation Foundation.

Yorkville resident Stephanie Sheetz has been hired full time to lead the effort over the next several years. She is a former land use planner with the Kendall County Building, Planning and Zoning Department and was land use planner with the Village of Plainfield. Sheetz recently completed an open space master plan for Plainfield.

Established in 1972 by business and community leaders, The Conservation Foundation is a not-for-profit land and watershed protection organization, located in Naperville on a 60-acre farm. The mission of the Foundation is to enhance the quality of life by preserving open space, protecting natural lands, and improving rivers and watersheds. With more than 3,000 members in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties, The Conservation Foundation is celebrating its 33rd anniversary in 2005.

Note: Stephanie Sheetz can be contacted at home at (630) 554-5353.

Copyright © 2005- The Conservation Foundation