Public Act 103-0494
SB1701 EnrolledLRB103 29043 AWJ 55429 b

    AN ACT concerning local government.
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
    Section 5. The State Finance Act is amended by changing
Section 6z-32 as follows:
    (30 ILCS 105/6z-32)
    Sec. 6z-32. Partners for Planning and Conservation.
    (a) The Partners for Conservation Fund (formerly known as
the Conservation 2000 Fund) and the Partners for Conservation
Projects Fund (formerly known as the Conservation 2000
Projects Fund) are created as special funds in the State
Treasury. These funds shall be used to establish a
comprehensive program to protect Illinois' natural resources
through cooperative partnerships between State government and
public and private landowners. Moneys in these Funds may be
used, subject to appropriation, by the Department of Natural
Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department
of Agriculture for purposes relating to natural resource
protection, planning, recreation, tourism, climate resilience,
and compatible agricultural and economic development
activities. Without limiting these general purposes, moneys in
these Funds may be used, subject to appropriation, for the
following specific purposes:
        (1) To foster sustainable agriculture practices and
    control soil erosion, sedimentation, and nutrient loss
    from farmland, including grants to Soil and Water
    Conservation Districts for conservation practice
    cost-share grants and for personnel, educational, and
    administrative expenses.
        (2) To establish and protect a system of ecosystems in
    public and private ownership through conservation
    easements, incentives to public and private landowners,
    natural resource restoration and preservation, water
    quality protection and improvement, land use and watershed
    planning, technical assistance and grants, and land
    acquisition provided these mechanisms are all voluntary on
    the part of the landowner and do not involve the use of
    eminent domain.
        (3) To develop a systematic and long-term program to
    effectively measure and monitor natural resources and
    ecological conditions through investments in technology
    and involvement of scientific experts.
        (4) To initiate strategies to enhance, use, and
    maintain Illinois' inland lakes through education,
    technical assistance, research, and financial incentives.
        (5) To partner with private landowners and with units
    of State, federal, and local government and with
    not-for-profit organizations in order to integrate State
    and federal programs with Illinois' natural resource
    protection and restoration efforts and to meet
    requirements to obtain federal and other funds for
    conservation or protection of natural resources.
        (6) To support implement the State's Nutrient Loss
    Reduction Strategy, including, but not limited to, funding
    the resources needed to support the Strategy's Policy
    Working Group, cover water quality monitoring in support
    of Strategy implementation, prepare a biennial report on
    the progress made on the Strategy every 2 years, and
    provide cost share funding for nutrient capture projects.
        (7) To provide capacity grants to support soil and
    water conservation districts, including, but not limited
    to, developing soil health plans, conducting soil health
    assessments, peer-to-peer training, convening
    producer-led dialogues, professional memberships, lab
    analysis, and development and travel stipends for meetings
    and educational events.
        (8) To develop guidelines and local soil health
    assessments for advancing soil health.
    (b) The State Comptroller and State Treasurer shall
automatically transfer on the last day of each month,
beginning on September 30, 1995 and ending on June 30, 2023,
from the General Revenue Fund to the Partners for Conservation
Fund, an amount equal to 1/10 of the amount set forth below in
fiscal year 1996 and an amount equal to 1/12 of the amount set
forth below in each of the other specified fiscal years:
Fiscal Year Amount
1996$ 3,500,000
1997$ 9,000,000
2001 through 2004$14,000,000
2005 $7,000,000
2006 $11,000,000
2007 $0
2008 through 2011 $14,000,000
2012 $12,200,000
2013 through 2017 $14,000,000
2018 $1,500,000
2019 $14,000,000
2020 $7,500,000
2021 through 2023 $14,000,000
    (c) The State Comptroller and State Treasurer shall
automatically transfer on the last day of each month beginning
on July 31, 2021 and ending June 30, 2022, from the
Environmental Protection Permit and Inspection Fund to the
Partners for Conservation Fund, an amount equal to 1/12 of
    (c-1) The State Comptroller and State Treasurer shall
automatically transfer on the last day of each month beginning
on July 31, 2022 and ending June 30, 2023, from the
Environmental Protection Permit and Inspection Fund to the
Partners for Conservation Fund, an amount equal to 1/12 of
    (d) There shall be deposited into the Partners for
Conservation Projects Fund such bond proceeds and other moneys
as may, from time to time, be provided by law.
(Source: P.A. 101-10, eff. 6-5-19; 102-16, eff. 6-17-21;
102-699, eff. 4-19-22.)
    Section 15. The Soil and Water Conservation Districts Act
is amended by adding Sections 3.24, 3.25, 3.26, 3.27, 22.03a,
22.03b, 22.03c, and 22.03d as follows:
    (70 ILCS 405/3.24 new)
    Sec. 3.24. "Healthy soils practices" means systems of
agricultural, forestry, and land management practices that:
        (1) improve the health of soils, including, but not
    limited to, consideration of depth of topsoil horizons,
    water infiltration rate, water-holding capacity, organic
    matter content, biologically accessible nutrient content,
    bulk density, biological activity, and biological and
    microbiological diversity;
        (2) follow the principles of: minimizing soil
    disturbance and external inputs; keeping soil covered;
    maximizing biodiversity; diversifying crop rotations;
    maximizing presence of living roots; integrating animals
    and insects into land management, including grazing
    animals, birds, beneficial insects, or keystone species,
    such as earthworms; and incorporating the context of local
    conditions in decision-making, including, for example,
    soil type, topography, and time of year; and
        (3) include practices such as conservation tillage or
    no-till, cover-cropping, perennialization of highly
    erodible land, precision nitrogen and phosphorus
    application, managed grazing, integrated crop-livestock
    systems, silvopasture, agroforestry, perennial crops,
    integrated pest management, nutrient best management
    practices, invasive species removal and the planting of
    native species and those practices recommended by the
    United States Department of Agriculture's Natural
    Resources Conservation Service - Field Office Technical
    (70 ILCS 405/3.25 new)
    Sec. 3.25. "Soil health assessment" means soil health
indicator measures, including, but not limited to, soil
organic matter, soil structure, infiltration and bulk density,
water-holding capacity, microbial biomass, and soil
    (70 ILCS 405/3.26 new)
    Sec. 3.26. "Initiative" means the Illinois Healthy Soils
    (70 ILCS 405/3.27 new)
    Sec. 3.27. "Healthy soil" means the continuing capacity of
a soil to function as a vital, living biological system that
sustains plants, animals, and humans, increases soil organic
matter, improves soil structure and water-holding and
nutrient-holding capacity and nutrient cycling, enhances water
infiltration and filtration capability, promotes water
quality, and results in net long-term ecological benefits.
"Healthy soil" includes soil that hosts a diversity of
beneficial organisms, grow vigorous crops, enhance
agricultural resilience, including the ability of crops and
livestock to tolerate and recover from drought, temperature
extremes, extreme precipitation events, pests, diseases, and
other stresses, break down harmful chemicals, and help convert
organic residues into stable soil organic matter and retaining
nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus.
    (70 ILCS 405/22.03a new)
    Sec. 22.03a. Illinois Healthy Soils Initiative.
    (a) The Illinois Healthy Soils Initiative is created. It
is the purpose of the Initiative to improve the health of soils
through efforts that improve soil and water quality, increase
the resilience of ecosystems to extreme weather events,
protect and improve agricultural productivity, and support
aquatic and wildlife habitat.
    Subject to appropriation, the Initiative shall be
administered by the Director of Agriculture with consultation
from soil and water conservation districts, the Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Natural
Resources, and the University of Illinois Extension Program.
The Department shall create guidelines and guidance to assist
soil and water conservation districts in developing soil
health assessments in order to identify desired capacity and
funding levels and establish regular, measurable,
cost-effective, and technically achievable goals to advance
voluntary and incentive-based strategies that improve healthy
soils. These assessments shall be used to identify
opportunities to access financial and technical assistance
from local, State, and federal sources to guide resources to
their best potential use.
    The Initiative shall complement and improve coordination
of existing resources and processes and shall not replace
existing, local, State, or federal funding or technical
assistance programs. The Department shall report on progress
of the Initiative annually.
    The Initiative shall promote voluntary and incentive-based
soil health efforts. No part of this Section shall be used to
impose mandates or require practice adoption.
    (70 ILCS 405/22.03b new)
    Sec. 22.03b. Guidelines for soil health assessments. The
Department shall adopt and revise guidelines to assist soil
and water conservation districts in determining local goals
and needs for implementing soil health assessments.
    In developing its guidelines to assist soil and water
conservation districts in determining local goals and needs
for soil health assessments, the Department shall consider:
        (1) county and State levels of conservation practice
    adoption. Guidance should also be provided to districts to
    meet USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service determined
    conservation practice standards or Illinois Urban Manual
    Practice Standards;
        (2) information regarding beginning, socially
    disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers, as well
    as disadvantaged communities;
        (3) availability of State and federal financial and
    technical assistance programs to soil and water
    conservation districts, local governments, and
    conservation partners; and
        (4) opportunities for evaluating results-based
    practices utilizing tools, such as the U.S. Department of
    Agriculture's revised universal soil loss equation, that
    model environmental outcomes at the field, county,
    watershed, or State level.
    The information collected through the development of the
guidelines shall be compiled and provided to the soil and
water conservation districts to inform the development of
local soil health assessments.
    Initial guidelines shall be completed and provided to soil
and water conservation districts annually and shall include
the grant agreement for the Soil and Water Conservation
District Grants Program as well as outlining the funding
resource support contained within the grant agreement to
better inform the development of local soil health
    (70 ILCS 405/22.03c new)
    Sec. 22.03c. Local soil health assessments. Upon the
adoption of guidelines described in Section 22.03b, each soil
and water conservation district shall develop annually its own
soil health assessment to guide voluntary and incentive-based
strategies to improve soil health. The soil health assessment
shall be technically feasible and economically reasonable.
    The Department shall provide a template to the districts
for the local soil health assessment, including the required
information listed in this Section as well as information
regarding available data and support materials collected as
the guidance information listed in Section 25.
    Each district is encouraged to collaborate with other
local governmental entities and local stakeholders in
developing and implementing its soil health assessment. Each
district shall use the guidelines provided by the Department
in developing its soil health assessment.
    Upon the request of a district, the Department may assist
in the preparation of the district's soil health assessment.
Districts may also work collaboratively to establish joint
plans to leverage existing capacity and resources most
    To carry out its assessment, a district shall identify
soil health practices. The soil health assessment must
consider opportunities to access, leverage, and use State and
federal resources within a specific soil and water
conservation district service area.
    Soil and water conservation districts may also convene
producer-led dialogues to identify special initiatives or
pilot projects to leverage additional resources and implement
soil health practices at scale across multiple operations and
land ownerships.
    In developing a soil health assessment, the soil and water
conservation district shall:
        (1) evaluate existing assets, such as current
    practices, current cropping systems, crop processing and
    market infrastructure, riparian buffers, wetlands, public
    lands, funding, education, research and peer-to-peer
    training opportunities, and existing partnerships;
        (2) consider the eligible funding categories available
    through the Partners for Conservation Fund and the
    district's ability to advance healthy soils practices
    consistent with Natural Resource Conservation Service soil
    health principles within a soil and water conservation
    district service area;
        (3) determine vulnerabilities, such as runoff risk,
    riparian function, stormwater, floodplains and stream
    impairments, and observed and predicted impacts from
    climate change, especially to socially disadvantaged
    farmers, ranchers, and communities;
        (4) identify opportunities to conduct outreach to
    agricultural producers and landowners and to develop
    individual soil health plans;
        (5) establish goals for achieving measurable outcomes
    for soil health and farmer viability through voluntary and
    incentive-based activities. This includes identifying
    opportunities to support beginning, socially
    disadvantaged, and veteran farmers as well as small and
    mid-scale farmers;
        (6) estimate 2-year funding levels needed from State,
    federal and private sources in order to achieve goals; and
        (7) identify opportunities to develop partnerships and
    leverage resources from local governments, utilities, and
    State and federal agencies.
    The Department shall identify shared goals and priorities
between districts and shall assist in developing partnerships
and shared funding approaches to maximize capacity and
resources. Initial soil health assessments shall be submitted
to the Department by September 1, 2024.
    (70 ILCS 405/22.03d new)
    Sec. 22.03d. Compliance and standards; cost sharing. To be
eligible to receive State cost-share support after September
1, 2024, soil and water conservation districts shall have an
updated soil health assessment.
    The Department shall update its rules and procedures for
cost-share funding to be inclusive of all relevant soil health
practices promoting the rapid adoption of cost-effective and
technically feasible projects. Updates to the rules and
procedures for State cost-share programs shall also address
barriers to access experienced by beginning, socially
disadvantaged, and veteran farmers.
    The Department may require results-based practices or the
assessments of the environmental outcomes of projects, at the
field or county level, as a condition of cost-share funding.
    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
becoming law.

Effective Date: 8/4/2023