A pair of iconic state parks in Illinois will soon become much larger as Governor Bruce Rauner announced a huge land acquisition from a private company.
On Thursday, Governor Rauner announced that the state of Illinois had acquired over 2,600 acres of land from lone Star Industries in LaSalle County. The land, which the state says will be dedicated to preserving natural resources and expanding recreations and tourism, will be used to expand Starved Rock and Matthiessen state parks.
“They are among the most beautiful destinations in our state,” Rauner said in a statement. “This expansion increases the amount of open space that will be managed and protected there by more than 50 percent and gives people even more reasons to enjoy the outdoors in LaSalle County.”
According to the governor, more than three million people visit the two parks each year.
The newly-acquired lands will be managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. A wide variety of uses are being explored for the property, including new trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas, as well as restored forecast, prairie, and wildlife habitats in the area.
The price tag on the new land is just over $11 million, and was paid for through the state’s Open Land Trust.
“I want to thank Gov. Rauner for his vision in supporting this expansion of our busiest state park complex, and thank Lone Star Industries for working with the state to make this property available for the use and enjoyment of area residents and visitors from throughout the state, the nation, and around the world,” IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal said in a statement.