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Dupage County Forest Preserve District 5

The Forest Preserve District is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, which translates the open-space needs of county residents into ordinances designed to protect and enhance natural areas and support general operations.

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  • Candidate picture

    Barbara O'Meara
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Mary Lou Wehrli
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What personal background do you have, such as experience, skills and abilities, that uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Forest Preserve Commission?

What are your top priorities for the DuPage County Forest Preserve?

Do you see a need to acquire more land to support future Forest Preserve plans?

Twenty nine years with the Environmental Health division of the state of Illinois, Masters in Public Health, 12 years as an adjunct teaching environmental Biology and Biology. Science is my life, and something we need to bring to the forefront in every elected position. Climate change is the biggest concern worldwide and needs to be addressed at every level of elected officials. I bring a lifetime of experiences, controlled burns, mist netting of birds, trapping of mosquitoes, overseeing 14 programs in environmental health covering nine counties. I served 17 years on the Illinois Mosquito and Vector Control Association statewide board, and right now am serving of the Naperville Library Board. I've lived in this district for 22 years and it's time for me, and every other qualified individual to step forward and serve the public.
Climate change is by far the leader. We need to make sure that we are doing everything we can at the local level to protect our resources. DuPage County is a "rain-fed" agricultural area, but over 40% of the agricultural fields are tiled. Which means the rain hits, goes down 4 to 6 feet enters pvc pipe and is diverted into our streams, creeks and rivers. What use to take 3 to 5 days for a flood to crest now happens in hours, not days. The water does not filter through and slowly distribute, it shoots off rapidly and thus does not enter the aquifer. Illinois has also lost over 90% of it's wetlands which served as a holding place for millions of gallons of water. We need to work within the forest preserve to reclaim and recreate these lost wetlands, which in turn can help reduce flooding. We also need to protect our pollinators and the birds, look to solar and wind technology and finally IT technology. Together we can move this board to do amazing things and lead in the nation.
The Forest Preserve Board always needs to be aware of lands for sale and review the possibility of acquiring new lands. The formation of land bridges from one forest preserve to another should be a top priority for the board, it may not be large acquisitions but small avenues to provide access from one preserve to another. These land bridges are vital to the animals that reside in our preserves and deserve our focus and research now and in the future.
My background, experience, and votes as a Commissioner consistently exemplify a commitment to the environment and a passion for service. Co-chair of $68M successful Open Space referendum. Bike Trail champion: DuPage River Trail Jefferson to Ogden. Prairie burn & river cleanup volunteer. I prepare. I show up. Construction background: Built passive solar timberframe residence. Active and dedicated understanding of ecosystems. Improved quality of board environment. Integrity, Teamwork, Courage. Strong relationships with local leaders. Eliminated pensions for elected officials. Approved salary reduction for elected officials. Turned backyard into native garden. Accessible, Trusted, Accountable. Attention to detail. I ask questions. I visit sites in question. Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts degrees Presence, Knowledge, Perseverance, Duck Feathers. Kindness, Patience, Strength. I bike and hike the trails. I return calls & emails. Servant Leader. Collaboration expert. Public speaker.
In no particular order: Site specific Master Plans for most heavily used preserves: Blackwell, Greene Valley, and Herrick. Restoration and maintenance of land and water. Maintenance and improvement of structures. Trail connections. Attracting grants and partnerships. Energy efficiency. Civil discourse and improved board communication. Continued improvement of board culture. Select forest preserve areas as venues for educators. The Greene Barn open for public use. See www.TheGreeneBarn.org
Under the best circumstances, yes. There are not many affordable or appropriate acquisitions to be had, however, land acquisition is primary in the District's mission statement. Plans are always percolating and being executed on land acquired years ago. Future generations should be provided maximum open space. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's mission is "to acquire and hold lands containing forests, prairies, wetlands and associated plant communities or lands capable of being restored to such natural conditions for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauty for the education, pleasure and recreation of its citizens."