Postcard from the park
Rock Cut State Park
Each week, Joel Brunsvold, director of the Illinois Department of
Natural Resources, sends a postcard profile of a different Illinois
state park, natural area or trail. This week, the director is
writing about Rock Cut State Park, located in northern Illinois.
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[JUNE 4, 2005]
LOVES PARK --
Greetings from Rock Cut State Park,
I am standing on another sandy beach of Illinois. This beach is at
Rock Cut State Park, in Winnebago County. Olson Lake, a landmark
of the park, was specifically designed for swimming. While it's fun
to visit a pool, there's something about stepping into the cool
water of a lake, with sand squishing your feet, that says summer. I
enjoy watching the kids approach the water's edge. On days before
the sticky heat of summer, when the winter chill moderates the lake
temperature, some children ease in inches at a time, while others
run full-force into the depths of the water. Each strategy has its
own advocates -- and its pros and cons.
The two lakes are a centerpiece of Rock Cut State Park's 3,092
acres. Still, this is a park to explore beyond the waterfront. The
network of trails here adds up to 40 miles for hiking, 23 miles to
explore on horseback and 23 miles for mountain bikers. The park is
also popular among those who enjoy a more traditional style of bike
riding. Rock Cut offers access at the Pierce Lake spillway, to the
Willow Creek Bike Trail and Perryville Path, a paved trail system
connecting the local communities of Loves Park and Rockford to Rock
Cut State Park. Trail users will find updated trailhead and
information signs at picnic areas and trail access points.
The wildlife here at the park is remarkable. Rock Cut is on the
Mississippi Flyway for migrating birds. This time of year, all sorts
of birds that winter in Florida and summer in Canada are stopping
off here. I even spotted a pelican. Year-round, bird-watchers can
count on seeing turkeys living in the wild, as well as bluebirds
nesting in boxes in the prairie area of the park.
This park is special because of a unique prairie restoration
project. In the past few weeks, sod was excavated from privately
owned South Beloit Prairie and moved to Harlem Hill Nature Preserve
in Loves Park, a satellite site of Rock Cut State Park. The reason
for the extreme measure: efforts by the Department of Natural
Resources to purchase the land were unsuccessful. As those avenues
of preserving the 5 acres through purchase and management failed,
the plan was conceived to move pieces of sod. Three threatened rare
plants grow there, including the federally listed prairie bush
clover and the state-listed plants kitten tails and hill's thistle.
IDNR plant biologists believe they can nurture these plants, and one
day, a piece of history will thrive here because of this
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Rock Cut State Park provides the perfect representation of the
mission of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Visitors
find a host of recreational opportunities. Also here, IDNR's
stewardship of resources is evident, from wildlife to prairie
grasses. What a great place to plunge into nature, or ease in a
little at a time!
Follow Interstate 90 or 51 to Rockford. Take the East Riverside
Boulevard exit. Follow signs off tollway.
Also in the parks:
, June 10-13. Anyone may fish in
Illinois without a sport fishing license. For information, visit
Volunteer Fire Assistant Grant applications available.
Grant information is available at
Montreal Canoe Weekend, Starved Rock State Park, June
Massiac Marines Living History, Fort Massac State Park,
Grand Illinois Trail and Parks Ride, June 12-18.
- Illinois Free Fishing Days
Department of Natural Resources news release]