Jefferson announces grant for Natural Land Institute

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State Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-Rockford) has announced the award of a $95,000 grant to the Natural Land Institute for its restoration project in the Nygren Wetland Preserve.

“I am very pleased to know that the Natural Land Institute will finally receive the money they need to continue their restoration project,” said Jefferson. “In a time when new developments tend to be the focus of our communities, we often neglect the importance of preserving natural land. I believe we must make an effort to find a balance between the two.”

The Natural Land Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of land and natural diversity. It restores and protects thousands of acres of prairies, forests, wetlands and river corridors throughout Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The acquisition and restoration of the Nygren Wetland is its largest project. It is a 705-acre complex, 2 miles west of Rockton that will be restored to wetlands, savanna and prairie.

“Wetlands provide important wildlife habitats for many rare and endangered species,” said Jefferson. “If we continue to lose wetlands at the current rate, there will be no habitat for many species to survive in, and surrounding communities will suffer. We are fortunate to have such important natural ecosystems in Illinois, and we must protect them.”

Wetland preserves not only provide places of natural beauty, but they are also habitats that bald eagles, ospreys, least bitterns, amphibians and many more animals need for nesting. The benefits of the preserves also extend to surrounding communities. Preserving hundreds of acres of wetlands will help decrease the impacts of flooding and chemical runoff, and increase our ability to maintain clean water. They also offer communities increased economic, aesthetic and recreational opportunities.

For more information, call Rep. Jefferson’s constituent service office at (815) 987-7433.

From the Dec. 21-27, 2005, issue

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