Waukegan airport’s long runway is no justification for acquiring a forest reserve


Trading or selling forest reserves is bad public policy and should only happen in very rare circumstances where the arguments in favor of it are very compelling.

In the latest example, plans are underway to make 52 of the 774-acre Waukegan Savannah available for a longer runway at Waukegan National Airport on the northwestern edge of the city. Trees are felled for safe zones. The idea has been around for years, but now federal funding is available for the runway.

The final details of the land deal are still somewhat vague, but what we haven’t heard is a clear offer to give the Lake County Forest Preserve, in return, a great deal of high-quality land. , that deal is undeniably a win-win project.

In highly developed urban areas there is always a demand for forest reserves. It is often of value for proposed uses, such as hospitals and schools. However, forest reserves decrease when natural areas are traded or sold.

“In the 65 years that the Lake County Forest Preserve has existed, this is the first time we know that land has been sold for commercial development,” said Wadsworth resident Susan Jingle. increase. “A camel’s nose under a tent? How will they turn down future requests for land for commercial development?”

Forest reserves always receive some requests for holdings. This is a private road. sign there. In perhaps the most infamous decision in recent years, in 1999 the Cook County Forest Reserve traded his 2.4 acres of high-quality natural land along the Des Plaines River, allowing Rosemont to expand its convention center. .

Critics have questioned the need for a runway extension at Waukegan Airport, saying the funds could be used to improve local schools and roads and clean up Superfund sites.

“Everything is strange,” former Waukegan mayor Bill Morris told us.

Airports and nature don’t seem to coexist well these days. The Greater Rockford Airport Authority believes that he has been pristine for 8,000 years and is home to the endangered rusty-spotted bumblebee Bell Bowl. Approved by federal agencies. On Monday, the Natural Land Institute said its lawyers had sent out his 60-day notice of intent to sue to stop the expansion.

The Waukegan Port District of Lake County, which operates the airport, has not made a compelling case for the runway project to go forward. Until then, ideas should go back to the hangar.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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