Friday, February 27, 2009
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Gov. Quinn calls on IDNR to reopen state parks

No word yet on historic sites

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[February 27, 2009]  SPRINGFIELD -- In another important step toward returning Illinois to the people, Gov. Pat Quinn announced on Thursday the reopening of seven state parks closed last year by the Blagojevich administration. The move is another sign pointing toward the state's renewed focus on natural resources and recreational opportunities for its citizens, especially in tough economic times.

Quinn made the announcement at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Springfield, alongside IDNR Director Marc Miller and IDNR staff and supporters.

"This is a great day for the people of Illinois. State parks protect some of our most precious habitat and provide opportunities for families to find outdoor recreation close to home. These are the people's parks, and the people have the right to enjoy them in good and bad economic times," Quinn said. "The value of these open spaces is immeasurable to children, families and local communities that depend on these parks for crucial economic stability."

The announcement officially started the process of reopening Castle Rock State Park and Lowden State Park at Oregon, Illini State Park at Marseilles, Hidden Springs State Forest at Strasburg, Moraine View State Park at LeRoy, Weldon Springs State Park at Clinton, and Wolf Creek State Park at Windsor. The Department of Natural Resources will immediately begin the process of restaffing the sites as quickly as possible.


"Today is another meaningful step to putting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources back on the right track. For far too long, this agency, our staff and the people we serve have been abused and broken," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "I want to thank Gov. Quinn for acting quickly to return these great places back to the people and for recognizing the importance that outdoor recreation has in Illinois."

Reopening these seven state sites gives back dozens of recreational opportunities, including camping, fishing and hiking, to more than 2 million visitors each year.

IDNR sites -- state parks, fish and wildlife areas, conservation areas, habitat areas, and other open spaces -- have a significant economic impact, especially in the state's more rural areas, bringing in non-local visitors who contribute to local economies by supporting local businesses.

  • An estimated 44 million people visit Illinois state parks and other state sites annually.

  • Those visitors spend an estimated $500 million in local economies each year.

  • That spending results in an estimated $790 million in overall economic impact, supporting nearly 8,500 jobs throughout the state.

Illinois residents report that their favorite outdoor recreation activities are walking, hiking, wildlife watching, picnicking, bicycling, fishing and swimming -- all opportunities available at Illinois state parks.


General information on closed state parks

Castle Rock State Park is a 2,013-acre park in the Rock River Hills region of Illinois, in Ogle County. The park is well-known for its rock formations, ravines and the sandstone bluff the park is named for. The annual visitation is over 150,000 and provides recreational opportunities for picnicking, camping, hiking, boating, fishing and hunting.

Lowden State Park is a 207-acre park located along the Rock River in Ogle County. It is home to a 50-foot Native American statue commonly known as Black Hawk. The park has an average annual attendance of over 250,000 visitors and provides recreational opportunities for picnicking, camping, hiking, boating and fishing.

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Illini State Park is a 507-acre park located along the Illinois River in LaSalle County. In the 1930s, the Conservation Civilian Corps built several buildings that are still used by the park today. It has an annual attendance of over 700,000 and provides recreational opportunities for riverside picnic areas, camping, boating, fishing and hiking.

Hidden Springs State Forest is a 1,120-acre forest in Shelby County. It is named for seven known springs on the property that were used for drinking water by the early settlers. Over the years these springs have been covered over by natural siltation and vegetation -- hence the name Hidden Springs. It has an annual attendance of over 175,000 and provides recreational opportunities for picnicking, camping, fishing, hiking and hunting.

Moraine View State Park is a 1,687-acre facility in McLean County that is developed for picnicking, camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, horseback riding and hunting. The trail system also provides opportunities for handicapped people, and the trails are groomed in the winter for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Weldon Springs State Park is a 550-acre park in DeWitt County. The park is home to the historic Union School building, which was moved from Logan County to the prairie at Weldon Springs, restored, furnished and equipped for use as both a visitor center and a temporary classroom for area school groups that wish to relocate for a day. The park has an annual attendance of over 333,000 and offers recreational opportunities for picnicking, camping, fishing, hiking and hunting.

Wolf Creek State Park is located on Lake Shelbyville on lands leased from the Army Corps of Engineers in Shelby County. It has a very popular campground with 430 sites and is a popular equestrian destination. The four-lane boat launching ramp provides for a variety of water sports, and the sandy beach provides easy access for swimming. Shelbyville Lake provides prime and productive fishing opportunities. The park has an annual attendance of over 412,000 and provides recreational opportunities for picnicking, camping, boating and hiking.

[Text from Illinois Department of Natural Resources file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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