The Illinois State Police closed I-55 at McLean Tuesday May 21, 2024 due to a dust storm. Numerous Central Illinois counties including McLean, Logan, Morgan, and Sangamon counties experienced low to zero visibility on roadways.

Dear Governor Pritzker and Members of the 103rd General Assembly,

In all, there are 2,185 interstate miles that serve the state, making Illinois the third ranking state in the U.S. Combined with the 15,969 miles of state highways that crisscross every corner of the state, we identify 18,154 more vital reasons to invest in the state’s boots-on-the-ground Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Why you ask?
Otto Medina-Salazar, 58
Donna Bates, 71
Joseph Bates, 73
Shirley Harper, 88
Earl LeGrand, 64
Michael Zinchuk, 55
Amy Zinchuk, 54

These are the names of those that lost their lives on May 1, 2023, because of a blinding dust storm that led to a massive pile-up on I-55 in south-central Illinois. A total of 37 people were injured, ranging in ages from 2-80.

Fast forward to 2024 and once again dust storms are shutting down I-72 in Sangamon County and I-55 and I-74 near Bloomington.

If we seek to protect one of the highest common denominators in our state, we must recognize the roughly 27 million acres (about 75 percent) of Illinois land is dedicated to agricultural production. As we have seen in recent years, production practices without conservation at the center have met with growing challenges created by our shifts in weather. Once again, mother nature has prevailed and showcased the mayhem when we do not protect our most vital natural resources … soil and water.

Now is not the time to reduce the essential investment of state funds into the 97 Soil and Water Conservation Districts that serve all 102 counties across the state. Now is the time to band together to ensure that our state’s roadways, agricultural industry, and your constituents are provided with the essential tools to keep soil healthy—and most of all in place—and our waters run clean. Please showcase your unequivocal support for the Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts and

Commit $10.5 million in the FY 25 budget for the SWCD operations funds.

Soil & Water Conservation Districts have the tools to protect our natural resources, roadways, and lives of those that live and enjoy Illinois. Please maintain your support and investment so we keep working on the frontlines for all Illinoisans.

Stronger together,
Michael Woods
Executive Director
Association of Illinois Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Contact your legislator.

Illinois State Police warning

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