Vision: Two Rivers RC&D, Inc. will lend assistance to community leaders to develop rural economies by improving and conserving local natural resources. A concerted effort will be made to identify the areas’ problems and then provide the leadership and framework for carrying out solutions to these problems. We will serve a diverse local and regional constituency and support local networking, coalition building and partnership building.
Mission: To bring about economic improvement through the development of the natural resources, within our RC&D local region, provide for environmental protection, and to work with others to resolve the social concerns of the area.
The sponsors of Two Rivers RC&D are the county governments and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the five county area. In 1971, they requested assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve the economy with orderly development and conservation of resources through the Resource Conservation and Development Program (RC&D). In 1972, the USDA approved this request and the Two Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Area was established. In 1973, Two Rivers RC&D became a not-for-profit corporation in Illinois and a 501(c)3 charitable organization as recognized by the IRS. In 2011, all federal financial support was terminated and the Two Rivers RC&D operates as a self-sustaining non-profit organization.
Adams County Members
Brown County Members
Calhoun County Members
Pike County Members
Schuyler County Members
IL Representative Districts: 93, 94 & 100
IL Legislative Districts: 47 & 50
Access Illinois Outdoors was started in 1994 to match landowners with visitors wishing to pursue outdoor recreation. Over 600 landowners have joined representing 250,000 acres in 54 counties. The landowners offer a wide variety of outdoor activities-hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, camping, trail riding, and photography. Over 3,400 visitors, representing 39 states, Canada and Germany have enrolled in the program. Landowners in the program earn anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 annually by charging visitors for access. The Access Illinois Outdoors program is responsible for generating millions of dollars in economic impact to communities and their respective counties.
Access Food programs are operated in Pike, Brown, Schuyler and Scott Counties. Donations were up from last year and provided over 15,000 pounds of processed meat. Hundreds of families benefit from the generosity of Illinois deer hunters, local businesses, conservation and service organizations thanks to the Access Food program, implemented by Access Illinois Outdoors program. Access Food was created to serve a dual purpose: to encourage hunters to take a doe to help control the deer herd and then donate the processed meat to local food pantries. All processing costs are covered by the project through donations, grants from Dot Charitable Foundation, United Way, Health & Wellness Foundation and Community Foundation, along with cooperation with the Sportsmen Against Hunger program where available. As the only meat source to our local food pantries, this program has proved to be very valuable and appreciated by the food pantry clients.
Access Illinois Outdoors participates with a booth at the annual Deer Expo in Pike County with attendance reaching 1,000.
Because of the lack of an Illinois State budget, many grants were suspended in early 2015 which terminated many of the workshops that Two Rivers RC&D normally sponsors:
Two Rivers RC&D co-sponsored an Inventor and Small Business Expo in February. This event provides an opportunity for local inventors, entrepreneurs, and small business owners to access technical assistance and exposure for their products and business. Eric Thomas from ETC presented marketing information and Mike Petzoldt, a patent attorney, presented the process for obtaining patents in the morning session. The afternoon session included information on international trade and resources from Beatriz Ramirez with the Small Business Development Center. Closing speaker for the expo was Jonah White, creator of Billy Bob Teeth, Inc.
A Business Planning Workshop was co-hosted with PCEDC in February. Sean Park from the Small Business Development Center was on hand to assist with creating a business plan. This event was offered free of charge and open to the five county area. Park helped participants to understand the basics of writing a business plan and the importance of keeping it up to date.
Legends of Lincoln Antique Show and Genealogy Fair was held in April to attract more visitors to the region.
Two Rivers RC&D co-sponsored a second Rural Economic Development Roundtable in July. Key speaker was Carol Portman with the Taxpayer’s Federation of Illinois, who presented information on Illinois tax policy and changes that local governments can expect. Terry Dennison from the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation also spoke on matters economic development issues pertinent to our region.
Community Development Block Grants were written and submitted on behalf of the City of Griggsville and City of Pittsfield.
The Quail & Upland Management Association held a very successful banquet in March. This was formerly Quail Unlimited, an organization that began as an RC&D Project many years ago. This organization maintains the funds raised in our local area. The Wildlife Bonus Enhancement grant was also funded which allows reimbursements to landowners for habitat improvements. Several applications totally over $20,000 from landowners have already been approved and completed Over 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat were created or improved with the QUMA habitat coordinator position.
A cooperative effort between the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Two Rivers RC&D through PCEDC and University of Illinois Community Educator Shelby Crow helps local businesses improve their customer service skills.
The need for clearer signage at the junction of IL 107 and Interstate 72 on the south side was identified. IDOT installed a “Freeway Entrance” sign. IDOT has also agreed that a turn lane is needed at this intersection. This improvement has been included in the FY 2011 list of proposed projects to be done within five years. It has a proposed cost of $250,000.
The Orr Corporation holds an annual meeting in February of each year. Assistance is provided to the Orr Corporation in their board meetings, preparing the agenda and Annual Meeting notices and also publicity about their field days. Two Rivers RC&D provides ongoing assistance to the Orr Research Center Corporation. The purpose of this Corporation is to provide the leadership in assisting the University of Illinois in the further development, promotion and expansion of the Orr Research Center and Orr Beef Research Center and to provide guidance to University of Illinois personnel in regards to future research and demonstration studies that need to be conducted at the center.
The La Moine River Watershed Partnership includes parts of Adams, Brown, Schuyler, Fulton, McDonough, and Hancock counties. La Moine board members have developed a power-point presentation on the La Moine River Watershed Area and they are available to give presentations to meetings and organizations. The board also has a watershed model available for educational programs. www.lamoineriver.org
Lake Education Assistance Program (LEAP) grants are written and funded by IL EPA. One of the grants is to educate elementary grade students on the importance of clean water, what organisms live in our local ponds, and then compare the organisms that live in our local stream to those found in the pond. Additionally, they compared things such as moving water vs still water, water temperatures, amount of sunshine on the body of water, etc. They also learned how important local forests and other native vegetation are in protecting the quality of the watershed. Many of them got to experience the collecting of macro-invertebrates and learned to identify them, to do some valuable observation of these organisms and learned that they are good biological indicators, for the health of the water body. The second grant allowed the La Moine River Ecosystem Partnership to sponsor an exploration event at Spring Lake, bringing in families to learn of the local ecosystem, fish populations and drinking water reservoir with free pontoon boat rides and a couple of fish shockings.
Two Rivers RC&D Revolving Loan Fund helps finance new and expanding small businesses in the Two Rivers Area. As the current loans are repaid, new loans can be made. We currently have 5 active loans. Two Rivers RC&D assumed the Revolving Loan Fund for the City of Pittsfield which will offer the opportunity to expand these services.
The Christmas Lodge Tour held in Pike County and coordinated through the Access Illinois Outdoors program is very popular and helps promote the lodges during non-hunting seasons. The tour includes four lodges: Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, Lodge at Walnut Knob, Kinderhook Lodge and Illinois Xtreme. Each lodge is decorated by a different florist and includes brunch, lunch, dessert and appetizers. A diverse group of talented musicians perform at each stop. The Christmas Tour is a great way to promote the tremendous asset the lodges are to the area with their facilities for other events.
Winery Tours were held in May, July and September. Wineries toured include Hopewell Winery, Ridge View, Village Vineyard, Spirit Knob, Collver Family Winery, Lake Hill, Baxter’s Vineyards and Wineries in Nauvoo and four wineries in Grafton. This is a great tool to promote our area’s wineries and vineyards and the economic impact they have on our area. The tours provide more exposure to what the wineries have to offer and increase tourism from Missouri and Illinois visitors and create repeat customers for the wineries. It’s also an opportunity to educate people on the economic impact the wineries have on our area which has now reached $692 million for Illinois. Illinois is now ranked 19th in the nation for wine production. Many of the smaller wineries, producing 5,000 barrels or less have largely contributed to the increase.
The New Philadelphia site has had a lot of success in 2015. One of the big accomplishments was the U. S. House and U. S. Senate passed the legislation for a study to show if New Philadelphia qualified to be a unit of the National Park Service. As part of the National Defense Authorization Act, the law signed by President Obama, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to determine New Philadelphia’s qualifications to be designated a unit of the National Park Service. Another big addition is the Virtual Reality signs made possible by a grant from the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and acquired with matching funds from Illinois Electric Cooperative. The virtual reality signs allow users with an Android device to view what New Philadelphia may have been like in the 1800’s and makes the site more interactive for visitors.
Two Rivers RC&D is the fiscal sponsor of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation. As the sponsor, Two Rivers RC&D provides an Economic Director to the corporation as well as administration of their program. Activities held jointly with PCEDC include quarterly Elected Officials meetings, Business/Education Roundtable, Inventor’s Fair and business related workshops.
Two Rivers RC&D is the fiscal sponsor of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation. As the sponsor, Two Rivers RC&D provides an Economic Director to the corporation as well as administration of their program. Visit them on the web at:www.pikeedc.org
Access Illinois Outdoors provides free youth hunts for deer and pheasant in cooperation with the generosity of their landowners.
The recycling program in Pike County is an ongoing program of Two Rivers RC&D and operates year round utilizing the developmentally disadvantaged clients from the Mental Health Centers of Western Illinois to operate the center one day a week. Educational programs were developed for the school system and a Power Point presentation was created for programs to service organizations. Local 4-H clubs offer Saturday recycling from April through October. Residents have expressed their appreciation at having a year round recycling center and other individuals who had not recycled previously have become regular clients.
Electronic Collection Events were held in Brown County in April. These were very successful resulting in a semi- trailer load of electronic material being recycled. These opportunities provide an avenue for disposal that no longer exists with the landfills. A permanent Electronic Collection Site operated in Pike County in cooperation with the City of Pittsfield, operating Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The Two Rivers RC&D created the McCully Heritage Project, a 940 acre environmental education center located in Calhoun County. The project offers 15 miles of hiking and horse back riding trails, two ponds for fishing and turtle watching, a wetland with a boardwalk, a hill prairie plot and more. Access Illinois Outdoors continues to support and promote their programs and create opportunities for parents and children to get out of the house and away from the TV to enjoy nature based tourism activities.
Park & Ride – The Park & Ride is an ongoing project of Two Rivers RC&D. A database is maintained of commuter’s schedules and contact information is provided to match riders going the same direction on the same days. Use of the Park & Ride lot is greater than originally anticipated and not only saves fuel but reduces pollution.
Business/Education Roundtables were held in conjunction with the Pike County Economic Development Corp. and the Workforce Investment Board. WIB set a priority to facilitate a stronger connection among itself, the business communities, economic development and secondary education. It is partnering with economic development entities in nine counties to sponsor roundtable discussions. A workforce readiness program was developed to create a stronger, better equipped labor force.
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance – Two Rivers RC&D was awarded one of ten grants awarded nationally from the USDA Rural Development Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance (RMAP) program to assist small businesses. Program funding included educational workshop/seminars, guidance, and instruction to rural microentrepreneurs to prepare them for self-employment and improve the condition of their existing rural microenterprise. This type of assistance can also increase their capacity in a specific technical aspect of their business; and can help them achieve a degree of business preparedness that will allow them to obtain business loans independently.
Assistance was provided to Heartland Lodge to acquire a second OHV grant to further expand its off-highway-vehicle offerings. The addition of riding miles to the lodge’s already existing 25 miles of off-road trails will further the county’s opportunity to attract visitors to the county year-round and not just during hunting season. Support was also provided in its expansion with two more lodges, Sunset Valley and Heavenly View.