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Opponents of a sand mine near Starved Rock State Park are criticizing the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for not speaking up about potential negative impacts to the park.

A Missouri company wants to operate a sand mine land just outside the eastern boundary of the park known for its bluffs, canyons, waterfalls and forests.

The DNR is in a unique position because it's an adjacent land owner and in charge of regulating mining. But spokesman Chris McCloud says the agency is bound by laws governing permits, and will make an unbiased decision.

Environmentalists and many residents say a mine would disrupt wildlife and hurt tourism at 1 of the state's premier parks.

The DNR has 120 days to issue or deny a permit once the company submits its application.

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