By Timothy Collins
Banner, IL—Our Prairie Land Conservancy had a Banner Day in Banner, IL, on June 28.
We shared the joy of dedicating our new 535-acre Prairie Hills Wetland Reserve—which was purchased from a coal company—with nearly 50 persons, many of whom had fought for years to keep this and other environmentally sensitive sites in the area from being mined.
For the coal company and Prairie Land Conservancy, this is a win-win. We paid fair market value for the site based on an appraisal.
It is a win for the people of Fulton County because a large tract of open space near the river is being preserved from development with a conservation easement.
It is a win for the Illinois Clean Energy Conservation Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Conservation Fund, agencies that helped fund the purchase.
Most of all, the environment wins, with a new haven that will be reclaimed for wildlife and plants over the next several years.
On June 28, our celebration was not dampened by all of the rain we had during the month (around 10 inches). In fact, our brief visit to the site on a camouflaged bus showed that the land was doing what it is intended to do, retaining water to reduce flooding downstream along the Illinois River.
The process of purchasing the site took time. It was complicated and required significant effort on the part of our Prairie Land Conservancy manager, David King. You can read more about that in a Daily Yonder essay I wrote, “Preserving the Prairie, a Plot at a Time.”
As for the Prairie Hills Wetland Reserve, everything is good, no, great.
Never mined. Never will be mined.
July 4, 2015
Prairie Hills Wetland Reserve, left, is near the Illinois River