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Forest Preserves of Winnebago County Receives Land Acquisition Grant

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation is awarding a $226,600.00 grant to the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County to fund the acquisition and restoration of two new land additions to preserves in the Kishwaukee River corridor.

The two parcels to be purchased with grant funds (36.2 and 1.3 acres) are infill properties which will expand Kishwaukee River Forest Preserve and Kishwaukee Gorge (North) Forest Preserve. The project goals are to:
1. Protect Kishwaukee River water quality by providing a natural area buffer
2. Increase forest and grassland bird habitat
3. Link forest, as possible, to form a larger forest area and
4. Link public land

The Kishwaukee River is a valuable asset to our region as it is one of the highest quality rivers in the state. Forest Preserves of Winnebago County is committed to preserving the river’s health by buffering and supporting it with corridors of restored lands. The Kishwaukee watershed is threatened by encroaching development. The acquisition will eventually add 15 acres of upland forest/savanna and 22 acres of prairie to the area. The new forest/savanna will link to existing upland forest. Conversion of these properties to prairie and forest will slow drainage to the river and filter water run-off to help preserve water quality.

The new additions will improve and expand forest and grassland bird habitat. Near the new acquisitions is an active Bald Eagle nest. Other bird species known to the area include Prothonotary Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Baltimore Oriole. Blue Bird houses will be maintained on the Kishwaukee River Forest Preserve addition.

The property additions will enhance recreation by linking existing forest preserve properties. The addition at Kishwaukee Gorge Forest Preserve will create accessibility, via a hiking trail, to a large tract of land north of the river previously not accessible to the public by land.

The grant funds were awarded through the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation’s Natural Areas Program which to supports the protection of wildlife habitat at natural areas throughout the state. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation was established in December 1999 as an independent foundation with a $225 million endowment provided by Commonwealth Edison. Its mission is to improve energy efficiency, advance the development and use of renewable energy resources, and protect natural areas and wildlife habitat in communities all across Illinois.