Daily Egyptian

SIUC forestry grant awarded, but no money seen

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

A $79,000 grant awarded to SIUC has not been distributed because of the lack of a state budget.

The grant would cover the Illinois Forestry Development Council director’s salary. The council has 29 members and represents various groups and issues in the forestry industry, including state land-management agencies, woodland owners and farmers. 

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William “Bill” Gradle had served as the council’s director since June 2014, but was laid off in August because of the budget impasse. He said his salary was paid through the grant for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. 

Jim Zaczek, chair of the department of forestry, who applied for the grant, said they have to wait for the state to decide on a budget.

“Hopefully, the appropriations will be there for this position,” Zaczek said.

IFDC funds are collected through a timber sales tax from the Illinois Forestry Development Act. This year, $118,500 in state money was committed to the council, but it cannot be appropriated until a budget is passed. Because the council has not received funding, it cannot appropriate money for project proposals. 

In the council’s proposal request form, the council said “all grants are contingent on appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly.”

“That’s why we’ve been stymied this fiscal year — there is no budget,” Gradle said. “This is not only true for this grant, but a lot of grants.”

Although the IFDC currently lacks a director, Gradle — who served on the council for 15 years — has continued director duties without compensation. He said he continues because he loves the work.

“It’s been very rewarding for me to work with those council members,” Gradle said. “Forestry resources … a lot of times are overlooked. It’s a real viable resource here in Illinois.”

Gradle said he will cut back on travel, as the council meets in various locations in the state. He paid out of pocket to go from Carbondale to Champaign for a Nov. 12 council meeting.

“It’s work, but it’s stuff that I enjoy doing. So, it doesn’t really seem like work,” Gradle said.

Gradle has been furloughed — a temporary leave because of economic conditions — but Zaczek said he expects Gradle will be offered the position again should he still be willing to take it. 

“It’s kind of a waiting game to see if the budget will be approved,” Zaczek said.

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] com or at 536-3326

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