|New park offers history, recreation preservation|
|Written by Carl Lee, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Tuesday, 26 January 2010 21:57|
According to a recent press release, the Parklands Foundation of Bloomington has purchased 77 acres of land along the Mackinaw River, north of Lake Bloomington.
The property is known as the Sweeney Woods Nature Preserve. It will be open to the public and it will soon provide hiking trails and canoeing, according to the press release.
Angelo Capparella, associate professor of zoology and president of Parklands Foundation, discussed reasons for purchasing this specific plot of land.
“It interconnects some of our smaller preserves, forming a bridge of lands,” Capparella said.
“With the installation of the hiking trail and access to canoes, the public can then use [the preserve] as a nature recreation,” Capparella said.
The Parklands Foundation has plans to restore native tree species and replace row crop agriculture. That conversion will buffer the Mackinaw and its stream inhabitants from contamination caused by agricultural runoff, according to the press release.
Also, the purchase was made possible by two grants, $167,875 each, from Grand Victoria Foundation through their Vital Lands Illinois program and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Plus a $59,250 acquisition match from the Parklands Foundation, according to another recent press release.
Nancy Fishman, executive director of the Grand Victoria Foundation, spoke about the importance of this land acquisition in the press release.
“Land conservation is central to our quality of life. Acquisitions like the Sweeney Preserve help protect the places we love against rapid land development, provide spaces for recreation and reflection, safeguard our drinking water and preserve our natural heritage,” Fishman said.
Johanna Haas, assistant professor of geography-geology, briefly explained the use and benefits of park reservations to the environment.
“Park preservations are set land for plant and animal species. It provides a large number of ecosystem services such as cleaning air and water and it creates an opportunity for scientific study and better understanding of the environment,” Haas said.
Parklands Foundation is a nonprofit, public membership land trust dedicated to acquiring, protecting and restoring natural areas in the Mackinaw River Valley of McLean and Woodford counties since 1967.
The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation invests in clean energy development and land preservation efforts, working with communities and citizens to improve environmental quality in Illinois, according to the press release.
The Grand Victoria Foundation creates a statewide, connected system of natural lands, ensuring their permanent protection and long-term stewardship and building public support for conservation.
Capparella also said that they are always looking for volunteers to help out with the preserves. For more information, visit parklandsfoundation.org.