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home : outdoors : news, stories, tidbits   May 24, 2016

6/6/2013 7:09:00 AM
Ottawa adds 253-acre Dayton Bluffs Preserve near Fox River
Submitted photos/The Conservation FoundationSome farmland and some pristine woodland have been annexed for the Dayton Bluffs Preserve along the east edge of the Fox River stretching southward from Interstate 80.
+ click to enlarge
Submitted photos/The Conservation Foundation
Some farmland and some pristine woodland have been annexed for the Dayton Bluffs Preserve along the east edge of the Fox River stretching southward from Interstate 80.
+ click to enlarge
To help
Come to the June 22 fundraiser at Skydive Chicago to raise funds for the restoration effort. Tickets are $50 per person and registration is at ... Volunteer for helping to maintain the land. An initial three-year restoration effort is planned.

OTTAWA — Ottawa will soon extend its city limits 253 acres to include a new forest preserve north of the town.

Ottawa Mayor Bob Eschbach and members of The Conservation Foundation Tuesday morning announced a plan to turn land along the east side of the Fox River and south of Interstate 80 into the Dayton Bluffs Preserve. Eschbach says the land was almost turned into a housing development but the recession hit.

Conservation Foundation President Brook McDonald is pleased that development never happened.

“What’s really exciting about this acquisition is not just that we are preserving beautiful and ecologically valuable land along the Fox River, but that we are also partnering with the city to allow public access to the property,” said Brook McDonald, the Conservation Foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “People need to enjoy this land, and working with Mayor Eschbach and the city has been real pleasure.”

The conservation group says the future preserve has over 160 species of native plants, fossils and some significant Native American archeological sites.

Through private grant funds, the Conservation Foundation has already worked out a deal to buy the acreage for 2.1 million dollars. They’re still raising money another $150,000 for a three-year restoration effort to get rid of invasive species, clear some trees, turn farmland into grasslands and later forest and make walking and biking trails.

The city plans to annex the land this summer and maintain the trails, parking and picnic areas. It should be open for public use sometime next year.

“The city of Ottawa is very grateful to The Conservation Foundation for acquiring the property and seeking our partnership so our citizens can enjoy this new preserve,” Eschbach said in a press release. “This is a fine amenity to our community and helps forward our long-term plan of establishing a greenway and bike path along the Fox River.”

Jeremy Aitken is a reporter for AM-1220 WLPO.

Dayton Bluff facts
Where: East of Ottawa where Interstate 80 crosses the Fox River

What: 253 acres, 178 of it forested, 75 farmland/fields; one mile of riverfront

Collaboration: “This type of public/private collaboration between a city and TCF has never been done before now. Ottawa does not currently have a large natural area park, and this will forward the city’s goal of becoming a “Green City.”

Key features: “The land has been heralded as high in quality by ecologists for having 162 species of plants with a Floristic Quality Index of 59. Anything rated more than 50 FQI is considered of statewide significance. It also has layers of glacial deposits over shale, which is different from the prevailing local sandstone bluffs along the river. The park will be designated a Lane and Water Reserve by Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. Several important archeological sites have been discovered on the property, including Native American mounds and campsites. These will be preserved along with the land.”
Public use: “Although the land will not be open to the public for 6-8 months, future plans for the property include a bike path, trails and possible picnic areas for public enjoyment. It will also be a prime educational site for nearby students and citizens to learn about local ecology and history.”

Source: The Conservation Foundation

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013
Article comment by: METALWORKER

Whay does that mean,restoration effort ?
Maintain a few trails, perhaps if they follow game trails.
Let nature reclaim it.
I do not see the differance between a devolper devloping the land and some do gooder old bitty who wants the place to look like someones back yard garder wit benches iand what they think are appropreate plants. Buy it and let it return to what it was whe the first white man saw it, If thet was good enough for God then it should be good enough for you.

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