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October 1, 2001

Ryan Announces Final Acquisition of Land for Illinois' Largest State Park

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the state has acquired 9,111 acres of property in Perry County through his Open Land Trust program, completing the purchase of land for Illinois' largest state park.

"The expansion of Pyramid State Park near Pinckneyville enhances recreation opportunities, natural resource protection, tourism and economic development, benefitting citizens and visitors throughout southern Illinois and the entire state," Ryan said. "The natural features of the site, combined with its size and location, make it an ideal destination for a wide variety of outdoor activities."

The $2.5 million acquisition completes a three-phase purchase of property at the site from Arch Coal Company. Governor Ryan announced the acquisition of two other parcels totaling 7,209 acres last December. The acquisitions expand Pyramid State Park to more than 19,500 acres, making it the largest state park in Illinois.

The Illinois Open Land Trust, Governor Ryan's four-year, $200 million initiative to protect and preserve open space, provided funding for the acquisition. The Open Land Trust is the largest open space acquisition and preservation effort in Illinois history.

The newly acquired property includes more than 4,500 acres of grassland, 960 acres of forest and 970 acres of ponds and lakes, providing habitat for wildlife including a number of species of endangered birds. Another 2,597 acres of tillable land that has been used for crop production was also acquired. The site will offer additional opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing and other outdoor recreation.

Governor Ryan also announced that a commercial-industrial-railway complex on the site, located adjacent to Ill. Rt. 152, will be leased to Perry County for use in local economic development efforts. In return for the lease and a proposed jurisdictional transfer of the commercial-industrial-railway complex, Perry County will forego all but $100,000 of the $595,000 community planning allowance provided to it as part of the Open Land Trust program. Final details of the lease are being worked out.

"The 503-acre industrial complex and railway spur will provide the Perry County Board and local economic development officials with additional tools to use in boosting economic growth in the area," Ryan said. "It makes sense to let local citizens and local officials decide the best way to manage and promote the industrial portion of the property."

To date, the Governor's Open Land Trust Initiative has resulted in the state's acquisition of more than 23,400 acres for protection from development, much needed open space, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, forest restoration and to create a high priority trail corridor. More than 3,400 acres of additional open space are being acquired by local governments through grants from the Open Land Trust.


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