State parks and recreation areas are expanding, and two of the projects are located in Jersey County.  Nearly $3-million will be spent upgrading bike trails and making lodge renovations at Pere Marquette State Park.  The state also announced the following acquisitions:
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  • Burning Star Mine No. 5, a coal mine closed in 1992 located at U.S. 51 and Route 149 north of Carbondale. This is now a 4,400-acre wildlife habitat that the state has negotiated the purchase of from the coal company, CONSUL Energy. The property contains floodplain forest along the Little Muddy River, deep-water lakes and ponds, and leased farm ground that could eventually be restored to grassland habitat. It is anticipated that the site will be available for hunting waterfowl, deer, turkey and upland game, plus trapping, fishing, hiking, limited camping and wildlife observation.
  • Fifty-one acres west of Starved Rock State Park, property with bluffs and ravines located adjacent to a dedicated nature preserve. The property formerly included a campground, but most of the campsite facilities were removed prior to acquisition. The property was purchased from a private estate. The acquisition will provide protection against incompatible future development.
  • One hundred twenty-one acres to expand public hunting opportunities in Edgar County. The new parcel, purchased from Pheasants Forever, is contiguous to the 87-acre Willow Creek State Habitat Area near Paris. The acquisition more than doubles the hunting acreage available at the site.
  • Jenkins Marsh, a 242-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Woodford County State Conservation Area in Woodford County. IDNR currently owns 5,425 acres at this location in Woodford, Tazewell and Peoria counties. The new acquisition will expand the Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area and provide additional space for hunting and recreational opportunities.
“We’re creating more habitat and (allowing) for more wildlife, more diversity, and more opportunities for recreation as well, bird watching, wildlife watching, hunting and fishing is a $4.2 billion impact because all of us go and spend money to do those important things and enjoy our natural heritage,” DNR Director Marc Miller said.
The acquisitions are being paid for mostly from the Open Land Trust Funds.
In addition, the state announced $6.5 million in park improvement projects, paid for by the state construction program.
Cook County – Chicago
  • William W. Powers, playground replacement, $53,000
  • DeKalb County – Shabbona
  • Shabbona, campground electric, $501,000
Grundy County – Morris
  • I&M Canal, trail segment rehabilitation phase 1, $289,000
Jersey County – Grafton
  • Pere Marquette, bike trail rehabilitation, $1,258,000
  • Pere Marquette, lodge renovations, $1,479,000
Kankakee County
  • Kankakee River, playground replacement, $179,000
LaSalle County – Starved Rock
  • Trail rehabilitation phase 5, $1,405,000
  • Campground electrics, $591,000
  • Playground safety replacement, $105,000
Winnebago County – Rock Cut
  • Campground water, sewer, and electric rehabilitation, $667,000