Winnebago Forest Preserve a “Good Ol’ Boys’ Club”?

Chuck Sweeney of the Rockford Register Star is beginning to feel sorry he ever supported an elected Forest Preserve Board for Winnebago County.

First thing out of the box, [county employee and Forest Preserve Board Chair Randy] Olson supported pouring tax money into fixing up golf courses to the tune of $1.4 million. They’d always had always had [sic] to pay for themselves from players’ fees in the past. Golf, however, is a declining activity. Did you know the director of golf for the forest preserve district makes $90,000?

Then Olson engineered a deal with fellow Courthouse Party member Donald J. Gasparini, former sheriff, to buy Gasparini’s three fishing holes on 18 acres adjacent to the popular Four Lakes Forest Preserve. Never mind that the district has said for years that it didn’t have the money to buy new land, and that the Gasparini property has never been identified as land the district wanted to acquire. They took the $216,000 out of the Operations Fund! The priority should have been dredging Four Lakes, but never mind.

Now, Olson wants to postpone for a year the annual culling of deer at the forest preserves. Is this a result of a conservationist’s study of land use management? Oh, no. Randy Olson went to the Plug & Pellet shooting club recently and the hunters there suggested it. Not enough deer in the preserves, they said. So, if we let the deer build up their numbers for a year, there will be more to hunt next year!

Sweeney is calling for local conservationists and naturalists to organize to get their own people elected to the board.

Are there comparable “old boys’clubs” in DeKalb County? Probably, but to my knowledge the forest preserve district is not one of them. It is professionally run and has a lot of volunteers who would never put up with that kind of thing.

As I read the article my first thoughts went to our airport.