DECATUR — The Macon County Conservation District has been awarded a grant of $368,280 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to add 90 acres to Friends Creek Conservation Area.
As of June 30, this grant adds 90 acres to the north side of the existing 526 acre Friends Creek Conservation Area near Argenta, Ill.
The Rannebarger Trust managed by Gerber State Bank previously owned the property. In late 2016, they sought out the Macon County Conservation District as a potential buyer because they wanted to give back to the community, and recognized the added benefit the property would have for people because it already adjoined Friends Creek Conservation Area.
The community can look forward to several benefits from this addition to Friends Creek Conservation Area, all of which will be passed on to future generations: The addition expands existing wildlife habitat, protects 2 more miles of Friends Creek shoreline, and provides space for additional trails and outdoor recreation such as hiking, cross country skiing, bird and wildlife watching, and creek fishing.
$10,000 of the grant will apply towards natural area restoration. Just because an area looks ‘natural’, does not necessarily mean it is healthy habitat. A diverse array of native plants and animals are essential for maintaining well-balanced ecosystems. Natural area restoration works to bring those elements back into balance. It often involves removing invasive plant species, and replanting native trees, flowers, and grasses.
“The most important thing about this expansion of Friends Creek Conservation Area is the ability to protect the creek itself,” says Paul Marien, Executive Director. “Clean water and clean air are key to survival for both wildlife and people, and this creek is a tributary that feeds Lake Decatur, the public water supply for the City of Decatur.”
Existing amenities at Friends Creek Conservation Area include the only public campground in Macon County, 3.5 miles of trails, the historic one-room Bethel School, and a variety of habitats including prairies, forests, and savanna.
Friends Creek Conservation Area is one of several Macon County Conservation District sites open to the public all year round for educational programs, family events, and outdoor recreation. For more information about Friends Creek Conservation Area or the Macon County Conservation District, visit maconcountyconservation.org.