In recognition of the United Nations designation of 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity, the Four Rivers Environmental Coalition and The Rock River Times presents this bi-weekly series to help readers discover the amazing array of plants and animals in the rivers, prairies and woodlands “in our own back yard.” FREC is an alliance of 35 member organizations “dedicated to educating and advocating for the plants, animals, natural resources and ecosystems of the Four Rivers Region.” Please visit fourriver.org.
By Dan Kane
Executive Director, Boone County Conservation District
The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has awarded the Boone County Conservation District an $801,810 grant toward the purchase of 186 acres of conservation land along the Kishwaukee River. The project also has received grant support of $385,742 from the Vital Lands Grant Program of the Grand Victoria Foundation.
The project involves other partners including the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District (WCFPD) and Openlands. The total project costs are $1,486,902 with WCFPD funding $243,632, Openlands contributing $12,531, and the BCCD providing $43,187.
Our agencies are extremely grateful to the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and the Grand Victoria Foundation for providing the financial support that has allowed us to follow through on this wonderful opportunity.
The property is between the LIB Conservation Area and the Newberg Village Conservation Area, and it provides seamless preservation of the south bank of the Kishwaukee River in this area.
The acquisition also provides for public use of the river (water only, as the north shore of the Kishwaukee is still privately owned) through this reach of the Kishwaukee. In addition, the purchase will allow the WCFPD the opportunity to provide public access to its County Line Forest Preserve.
Public access will be off Ipsen Road, and a parking area is already installed. Habitat restoration at this site and the Newberg Village Conservation Area has already been initiated to re-establish native plantings and enhance existing habitat.
The 186-acre site has multiple wetlands, wet meadow, riparian corridor, wooded floodplain and other habitat types that provide an array of ecological functions and values. The site will be jointly owned and managed by the BCCD and the WCFPD.
One of the many important aspects of this project is the collaboration between the BCCD and the WCFPD. Forming a partnership and working together has resulted in the preservation and enhancement of 186 acres of very important conservation lands. Acquisition of this property will allow us to restore important wetland and wet meadow grasslands, preserve bottomland hardwood forest, and preserve the high-quality character of the Kishwaukee River at this location.
We are most grateful to the previous owners of the Verona Property for approaching our agencies with the willing offer to sell this land for conservation purposes; and to the dedicated staff and board of Openlands for helping to pull this complex acquisition together.
The Boone and Winnebago County communities will benefit greatly from the nearly $1.2 million of financial assistance provided by the two private foundations that have made this project possible.
From the Dec. 8-14, 2010 issue