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Since December 2010, the Forest Preserve District has been governed by an independent elected Board of Commissioners. As of December 2022, they include:


Judith Barnard

2203 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61103

Jeff Tilly

3150 Durham Court, Rockford, IL 61109

Mike Eickman

 11114 Harrison Rd., Rockton, IL 61072

Audrey L. Johnson

4260 Sunset Terrace #205, Loves Park, IL 61111

Gloria Lind

1122 Greenwood Ave., Rockford, IL 61107

Cheryl A. Maggio

6351 Dandbridge Blvd., Rockford, IL 61103

Jerry Paulson

4601 Paulson Rd., Caledonia, IL 61011

The Forest Preserves of Winnebago County Board of Commissioners statement regarding the FPWC and SDEF Agreement

Citizens of Winnebago County, The Board of Commissioners would like to provide a statement regarding the recent notice to terminate the agreement between the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County (FPWC) and Severson Dells Education Foundation (SDEF). The FPWC has determined that the current operating agreement between SDEF and the FPWC will end as of March 19, 2023. Proper notice was given to the SDEF board based on the terms of the existing agreement which requires notice of termination to be delivered at a minimum of 60 days prior to the renewal date, which currently is May 1st, 2024. After much discussion, the board elected, at the November meeting of commissioners, to pass the resolution to terminate the existing agreement effective March 19th, 2023.

Although the FPWC have elected to terminate the agreement with SDEF, it was done so for a multitude of reasons. Within the termination letter, as well as the resolution, it has been made clear that the FPWC will work with SDEF in a timely manner, to establish and execute a new agreement. It has also been made clear that under any new agreement, as well as while a new agreement is drafted, the FPWC will continue to support SDEF in its programs, functions, infrastructure, maintenance and overhead, as the FPWC have supported its other educational partner organizations.

The three main reasons that the FPWC has decided to terminate the existing agreement and execute a new one are:

       1. The current 2012 agreement was never fully executed or approved by the board of commissioners elected at large             by the citizens of Winnebago County.
                   a. At the time the current agreement was put into place, it was not brought before the board to be voted on                          or put before the public for input and was only signed into effect by the executive director of the FPWC                            and the President of SDEF at that time and was done so without the knowledge of the board.
                   b. An agreement of this kind should be open to public input and review, as well as voted on for approval by                         their elected representatives.
       2. The current agreement states that various members of the Severson Dells Nature Center are to be employees of the             FPWC instead of SDEF. The agreement establishes the FPWC as the employing agency to the Severson Dells                     Nature Center employees, but it does not provide specific direction on the nature of those employee’s duties and                 responsibilities.
                   a. The current agreement has language indicating the repayment of the SDEF operating expenses, including                           the wages of those employees, is to be reimbursed to the FPWC by SDEF, but over the years the agreed                             amounts have not been enough to cover all the operating costs, benefits, pension, and other factors of                               those employees.
                    b. Management parameters under the current operating agreement are not clear. SDEF is currently directing,                         managing, and facilitating these employees, as they should be, but in doing so it does not always align                           with the current duties and responsibilities set forth by the FPWC senior staff.
       3. SDEF offers the best level of educational programs in nature for the citizens throughout the community, and the                   FPWC has made it clear that its intentions are to continue to support those programs and other services provided               by the SDEF and the Severson Dells Nature Center through the sustained and continual assistance of in-kind                       services.
                    a. The FPWC will be better suited to utilize the funds from the taxpayers of Winnebago County to support                              the SDEF programs through direct financial contributions instead of the redistribution of employee wages                            and benefits.
                    b. The FPWC is dedicated to conserving, protecting, promoting, and enhancing the natural lands throughout                          Winnebago County, ensuring that partnerships such as SDEF continue to have the spaces and natural                                areas to provide education and recreation opportunities for all people in Winnebago County and will be                          able to do so for many future generations.

The FPWC is dedicated to the operations and processes necessary to maintain the 44 preserves and over 11,000 acres throughout Winnebago County as some of the best natural lands in all of Illinois. The SDEF also provides some of the best education opportunities and programs, especially in nature, for the citizens in our community.

The FPWC want nothing more than to establish a new agreement with the SDEF that strengthens the partnership of these two organizations. Aside from the ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the natural lands across Winnebago County, FPWC’s primary commitment is to the citizens of Winnebago County and to provide them with as many fiscally responsible opportunities in education and recreation as possible and partnering with SDEF plays an integral part in that endeavor.

Board of Commissioners

Forest Preserves of Winnebago County

Jeff Tilly (
Judith Barnard (
Mike Eickman (
Audrey Johnson (
Gloria Lind (
Cheryl A. Maggio (
Jerry Paulson (

2024 Schedule of Board of Commissioners Meetings

Every Board Meeting is held at The Forest Preserves of Winnebago County Headquarters, in the Conference Room, 5500 Northrock Drive, Rockford 61103 unless otherwise stated. The meetings begin at 5:30 PM and occur on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

2024 dates:
January 17
February 21
March 20
April 17
May 15
June 19
July 17
August 21 
September 18
October 23
November 20
December 18

Anyone wishing to speak at a Board meeting must submit a request to speak in writing or email to the administration office by noon on the day of the meeting. Request must include name, address and subject matter. Each meeting is allowed a maximum of 7 speakers, with each speaker being allowed a maximum of 3 minutes. The President can further limit the number of speakers per topic. Speakers may not address personnel matters or pending or threatened litigation involving the Forest Preserves. Requests may be relayed through District office at above address; or at; or by fax 815-877-6124.

Meeting Agendas & Minutes

Meeting Agendas

Meeting Minutes

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