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Illinois budget cuts to close historic sites and parks

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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s office announced layoffs of up to 450 state employees and the closure of 25 historic sites and state parks. Fourteen state historic sites are scheduled to be closed October 1. Eleven state parks are slated for closure November 1.

A spokesperson for the governor stated that the office had no choice but to make the budget cuts because of a faltering economy and an unbalanced state budget. Included in the cuts were the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which operates the state parks, the Department of Children and Family Services, slated to have 179 employees cut, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Department of Human Services, which is expected to lose 79 positions. The IDNR will lay off 39 employees in total. The IHPA, which operates the state historic sites slated for closure will cut some 38 positions.

The closures and job cuts will save the state money over the next fiscal year. Cuts in the IDNR will save an estimated US$19.5 million and cuts at the IDCFS will save around US$2 million.

The closures are considered indefinite but will last at least through the end of the fiscal year, July 1, 2009. Each site will have one employee on site for security and maintenance. Once entrances to state parks are barred on November 1, the public will no longer be allowed to enter the sites. Any member of the public entering the closed state parks after November 1 could be arrested and charged with trespassing.

Complete list of Illinois park closures

The Illinois State Historic Sites to be closed include four National Historic Landmarks:

* Dana-Thomas House, in Springfield
* David Davis Mansion, in Bloomington, Illinois
* Fort de Chartres, in Randolph County
* Pierre Menard Home, in Randolph County

and 10 others:

* Apple River Fort, in Elizabeth
* Bishop Hill, Henry County
* Bryant Cottage, in Bement
* Fort Kaskaskia, Randolph County
* Hauberg Indian Museum at Blackhawk State Historic Site in Rock Island
* Jubilee College, in Peoria County
* Lincoln Log Cabin, in Charleston.
* Old Cahokia Courthouse, in Cahokia
* Carl Sandburg State Historic Site, in Galesburg
* Vandalia Statehouse, in Vandalia

The State Parks to be closed are:

* Castle Rock State Park, in Oregon, Illinois
* Channahon State Park, in Channahon
* Gebhard Woods State Park, in Morris
* Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park, in Sheffield
* Hidden Springs State Forest, in Strasburg
* Kickapoo State Park, in Oakwood
* Illini State Park, in Marseilles
* Lowden State Park, in Oregon
* Moraine View State Park, in Le Roy
* Rice Lake Conservation Area, in Canton
* Weldon Springs State Park, in Clinton


* "Web Exclusive: Governor lays off hundreds; closing many state parks, landmarks". Kankakee Daily Journal, August 28, 2008
* Associated Press "Historic sites, parks to close amid State budget cuts". Chicago Sun-Times, August 28, 2008
* Monique Garcia and Ofelia Casillas "DCFS takes hit, parks and historic sites to close under Blagojevich layoffs". Chicago Tribune, August 28, 2008
* Staff "What's cut". The State Journal-Register, August 28, 2008
* Kurt Erickson "State to cut 450 jobs, close parks and historic sites". The Southern, August 28, 2008


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