In 1995, Conservation 2000 was created to establish a comprehensive program to protect Illinois' natural resources through cooperative partnership between State government and public and private landowners. Conservation 2000 originated as a six-year, $100 million initiative designed to take a broad-based, long-term ecosystem approach to conserving, restoring, and managing Illinois' natural lands, soils, and water resources while providing additional high-quality opportunities for outdoor recreation. It was an innovative and visionary approach to natural resource conservation promoted by the State of Illinois.
In 1999, House Bill 1746 was signed into law extending the Conservation 2000 Program until the year 2009. In 2008, House Bill 1780 was signed into law as Public Act 95-0139, extending the Program until 2021 as Partners for Conservation. The Partners for Conservation Program funds programs at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois EPA.
Illinois' 3,000 inland lakes and 84,000 ponds greatly benefit from the passage of Partners for Conservation. Programs administered by the Illinois EPA through Partners for Conservation were designed to implement the recommendations contained in a report called the Illinois Lake Management Program Act - Administrative Framework Plan. Partners for Conservation funds are subject to appropriation by the state legislature.
Currently, there are two Illinois EPA programs funded through Partners for Conservation. They are the the Priority Lake and Watershed Implementation Program and the Lake Education Assistance Program. A third program, the Illinois Clean Lakes Program, is also authorized for funding under Partners for Conservation; however, due to limited funding appropriated by the state legislature in recent years, this program has not been funded since 2009. For more detailed information on these programs, please refer to the individual program descriptions.