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November 15, 1999

Governor Announces First Purchase Under Illinois Open Land Trust

ESSEX -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the state is purchasing 1,662 acres of park land in Kankakee County, the first such acquisition under his landmark Open Land Trust initiative a program designed to acquire and protect open space for future generations.

"With this first land acquisition purchase, we begin the commitment we need to make to save our open spaces," Ryan said. "This purchase will improve the quality of life for the people of this community and for the entire state."

The newly acquired area will be used for lake fishing, wildlife habitat and waterfowl hunting as well as other recreational activities. The parcel contains numerous lakes and ponds with three large lakes. Nearly one quarter of the total acreage is covered with water. Most of the land on the parcel is wooded or covered with grass.

The property is west of the town of Essex, along and north of County Highway 6. It is less than 1/2 mile from Mazonia Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area and a number of state parks are within 15 miles, including: Heidecke State Fish and Wildlife Area, William G. Stratton State Park, Gebhard Woods State Park, Des Plaines Conservation Area, Gooselake Prairie State Natural Area and Kankakee River State Park.

Commonwealth Edison approached the state Department of Natural Resources about selling this land to the state. They agreed to sell the property for several million dollars less than the fair market value of the land.

"When a corporation makes a contribution like that, it makes our Open Land Trust even stronger," Ryan said.

The state is expected to close on the property on Nov. 23. The property will be managed for the public by the Department of Natural Resources.

"Acquiring this property has been a high priority since we learned it was for sale," said DNR Director Brent Manning. "I'm grateful to the Governor for his efforts to make it happen."

The Illinois "Open Land Trust" is a $160 million program that will provide $40 million per year over the next four years for land purchases and improvements.

The program provides state funding for land acquisition as well as a combination of grants and loans to local governments for open space protection. All land acquired through this program is from willing sellers only.


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