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STRATEGIC PLAN

FOR

COLLABORATION



ILLINOIS SCIENTIFIC SURVEYS



NOVEMBER 1998



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FOREWORD


      This plan was prepared by the Illinois Scientific Surveys: the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey and the Waste Management and Research Center. The Scientific Surveys are Divisions of the Office of Scientific Research and Analysis (OSRA) of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and are affiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I). This plan complements the strategic positioning document developed by the StateMuseum, and it reflects collaborative efforts between the Scientific Surveys and the State Museum. It is intended to be a guide to those within and outside IDNR who have an interest in the mutual role our organizations play in conducting scientific research and in transmitting the results of that and other research to public and private decision makers in Illinois and elsewhere. Emphasized throughout this plan are opportunities for increased joint and collaborative efforts by scientists and other staff within OSRA to address some of the complex environmental, social, and economic issues facing our State and nation. Multidisciplinary research that is being encouraged in federal and state agencies to deal with modern natural resource and environmental management issues has been a fact in Illinois for over 100 years because of the nature of these institutions.

      The Scientific Surveys represent a unique resource within the 50 states and have a long history of close cooperation in using their collective scientific disciplines to address important complex problems. Under the guidance of OSRA, in close collaboration with U of I and under the governance of the Board of Natural Resources and Conservation, this plan will be used to forge even closer linkages among the Scientific Surveys. For 80 years, the Board has protected the Scientific Surveys from undue political influence and the Scientific Surveys have provided the citizens of Illinois and the nation with independent and credible data and analyses. The data collected and the scientific expertise within these institutions will continue to be needed to ensure a high quality of life, economic development, and the protection and restoration of natural resources in Illinois.

Karen Witter, Director, OSRA.

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MISSION OF THE SCIENTIFIC SURVEYS


      The Scientific Surveys of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) are the primary agencies in Illinois responsible for producing and disseminating scientific and technological information, services, and products related to the environment, economic development and quality of life. To achieve this mission the Scientific Surveys conduct state-of-the-art research and collect, analyze, archive and disseminate high-quality, objective data and technical information. The information, services, and products provide a sound technical basis for the citizens and policymakers of Illinois and the nation to make wise social, economic, and environmental decisions.

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INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTHS


      No other state in the nation has the breadth and depth of scientific expertise available from the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey and the Waste Management and Research Center. These unique resources have served Illinois well and could be used even more in the 21st Century to address new and increasingly complex issues facing the State and nation.

      For more than a century the Scientific Surveys have developed strong relationships with many constituents, ranging from state agencies, county and local governments, private industry, academic institutions, and nongovernmental organizations to private citizens. Beyond Illinois, the Scientific Surveys have excellent reputations throughout the Midwest, the nation, and in other countries for high-quality research, public service, and unique, long-term environmental databases.

      In particular, the Scientific Surveys have a long history of mutually beneficial cooperation with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) and are in the process of enhancing this partnership through the development of a formal strategic plan.

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VISION


      The Scientific Surveys will continue to function as a shared pool of multidisciplinary research and technical expertise. The diverse capabilities will focus on the important, and complex scientific and social issues that arise as a result of natural processes or human activities. In addition to the traditional activities of the Scientific Surveys and the Illinois State Museum, these organizations will act collectively to become the prime source of objective scientific analysis of the State's natural resources from the standpoint of protection, development, use and restoration. As the result of the wide recognition of Survey functions, capabilities, services and assistance, the public and all levels of government agencies will seek out and use the capabilities of the Scientific Surveys as they bear on the quality of life and environmental and economic security of Illinois residents. Traditional State appropriations will be increased to cover State operations, and additional support will be secured through grants, contracts, and nontraditional sources of financing.

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GOALS


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CONTEXT


      When working on future natural resource programs and priorities for research and management, the Scientific Surveys must consider:

  1. That the environmental implications of a variety of economic and societal decisions and activities often are not well considered or understood.

  2. A population that is shifting and expanding rapidly in some parts of the state puts increased local demands on the use and protection of natural resources.

  3. Increasingly complex, state, regional and national environmental, social, and economic issues require greater challenges to define the issues, to communicate them to legislators and the public, and to identify solutions.

  4. More staff and financial resources are needed to address the issues. The Scientific Surveys cannot continue to provide the current suite of public services and address emerging issues with existing State-appropriated resources.

  5. Public demand for more accountability, more short-term benefits, quicker responsiveness, and less expensive, more efficient government programs are likely to continue at the expense of long-term research and planning efforts.

  6. Although the State has potentially competing interests in promoting economic development while also providing environmental stewardship, restoration, and protection, the Surveys conduct research and have information that can blend these demands in the best interests of the citizens of Illinois.

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MAJOR ISSUES


      Based on an assessment of our present activities and the evolving needs of the State and the nation, the Scientific Surveys anticipate focusing collectively on the following issues:

      Each Scientific Survey also has its own priorities and will continue to fulfill the unique aspects of its mission and prepare its own strategic plan. The extent to which these priorities overlap will provide opportunities for enhanced collaboration with the other Surveys.

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ACTION ITEMS


Five action items have been identified.

  1. To establish a multiple-survey team for each major issue.

  2. To produce an inventory of the current suite of activities being addressed by each survey for the above issues.

  3. To identify strategies for developing communication, action, and "critical mass" of effort for each issue, through collaborative efforts among the Scientific Surveys, with other offices in IDNR, and with external groups.

  4. To prepare a 2- to 3-page "whitepaper" on each issue and its impact on the Surveys and on the State of Illinois.

  5. To investigate sources of potential funding to support work on the above issues.

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