Postcard from Green River
State Wildlife Area
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Note: 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 time the director is writing about Green River
State Wildlife Area, located in northern Illinois.
[MAY 19, 2005]
-- Greetings from Green River,
This is a beautiful part of the
state, but the story of this particular parcel of land in these last
few weeks is the story of recovery. The
Green River State Wildlife Area is a 2,565-acre wildlife
restoration site. If you visit this park, you'll see the black scars
left by fire, but more importantly, you'll see the signs of survival
through hard times.
An arsonist struck here the end of
March. When volunteer firefighters from Ohio and Walnut arrived, the
fire stretched 3 miles long, with flames leaping 20 feet into the
air, whipped by winds that pressed the fire on a path that left
hundreds of acres charred.
Still, this is a land that is
regenerating. Most of the grassy areas that were scorched have now
regenerated into lush green grass, dotted even by wildflowers.
Flames forced their way through a knoll of evergreens as well. While
the heat of the fire killed many of those pines, the trees' progeny
will replace them. The pine cones still cling to the evergreens'
burned branches, and I'm told that when the pine cones drop from
these trees, the seeds at the heart of the cones will sprout a new
generation of evergreens.
It's hard to know what toll the
fires took on the wildlife that calls Green River home. It's likely
that not all the creatures found their way to safety, but many did.
The ground squirrels burrowed beneath the soil and were safe as the
flames roared on the ground above them. The turkeys, pheasant and
other birds that live here were able to fly away, moving faster than
the flames could spread.
In this land rejuvenating, there is
much to enjoy. The turkey hunters have been here, although Old Tom
is pretty good at avoiding them! The equestrian trail, which
stretches 10 miles, is open and busy. The camping spaces fill up,
especially on weekends. Hikers and bird-watchers can be spotted on
the sandy trails that wind through the park.
[to top of second column in this article]
Spring is a time to reflect on the
miracle of life, and that is what I am doing as I walk here at Green
River. These verdant prairies in spring's sunshine are an
inspiration. At many Illinois state parks, the vista inspires awe.
Here, the patches of green grass, sprouting from blackened soil, are
a reminder that even when times are hard, with a little warmth, the
good things of this earth will prevail, even under the most adverse
P.S. The Illinois Conservation
Foundation is offering a $500 reward for conviction of the arsonist.
Tips may be phoned to 1 (815) 625-2968.
Also in the parks:
May 19 -- Tiny
Hikers Club, Giant City State Park
May 20 through
June 5 -- Wildlife biologists conduct dove call counts to monitor
May 21 -- Baker
Lake Kids Fishing Expo, Peru
May 21 -- 15th
annual Festival of Arts and Crafts for Children, Illinois State
Museum Southern Illinois Art Gallery, Rend Lake
Department of Natural Resources news release]