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Collaborating for Conservation, They Preserve and Protect

Weekly musings from Jeff Long, public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District.

They were founded during different eras, but their commonalities are many. A river not only runs between them; it binds these agencies together.

In 1947, the Fox Valley Park District was created as a governing body that would preserve and protect scenic vistas along the Fox River. The vision was for all residents to enjoy this precious resource, the recreation it afforded, and the natural beauty it brought to the communities it unites.

In 1972, The Conservation Foundation arrived on the scene with a mission to promote stewardship of our local environment through preservation of open space and natural areas, and protection of rivers and watersheds.

Fittingly, the two agencies have become partners in preservation, working in unison over the years to assure that our generation – and many, many more to follow – has opportunities to enjoy the benefits of a natural, sustainable environment.

Fox Valley was pro-active in expressing its appreciation, honoring The Conservation Foundation – which celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend – with formal congratulations at Monday evening’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The Foundation was instrumental in the Park District’s 2008 referendum that voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin. Nearly half of the funds to the $44.8 million referendum are dedicated to open space, nature area and park acquisition, expansion of natural areas, Fox River shoreline improvements and further upgrades to recreational opportunities and the regional trails throughout the District.

“The great value in partnerships like that which we’ve shared with Fox Valley is that it allows us to leverage our collective resources,” said Brook McDonald, President and CEO of The Conservation Foundation. “In our 40 years, we’ve helped preserve over 32,000 acres of land, and nearly all of that has come through beneficial partnerships with agencies like the Fox Valley Park District and others.”

Residents overwhelmingly threw their support behind the Park District’s plans, with 65 percent approving. For its part, the Foundation helped to promote awareness and good will through information campaigns that provided a greater understanding of how land preservation betters communities while also educating voters how short-term costs – in this case, just pennies a day – can have long-term, far-reaching benefits.

“Residents were nearly unanimous with their wishes for the referendum – they placed a high value on the acquisition and preservation of open space and natural areas,” said Jeff Palmquist, director of planning, development and grants. “We continue to make every effort to follow through on that, for today and for the future.”

Since the referendum’s passage, the Park District has acquired more than 120 acres of park land and natural areas through the 2008 Open Space, Park and Recreation Investment plan. Among the most significant are 20 acres off Montgomery Road, which is now Waubonsie Creek Park, and 18 acres on green open space on Aurora’s densely developed near west side that is now New Haven Park. Both of these new parks have also helped address the increasingly heavy demand for more athletic fields.

Meanwhile acreage at Jericho Lake Park has been expanded, as has riverside park lands. Each year, small parcel by small parcel, the Park District is securing and recreating green space along the Fox River.

Thanks to collective efforts and community support, tomorrow is looking better every day.

Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at jlong@fvpd.net

Fox Valley Park District
Upcoming Events

Friday, Sept. 7: Rockin’ Oldies Dinner Theatre Variety Show at Prisco Center, noon to 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 16: Fall Harvest (and free ice cream social from1 to 2 p.m.) at Blackberry Farm, noon to 4 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 23: Raku Pottery firing and decorating at Blackberry Farm, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 28: Mom & Son Dino Night at Eola Community Center, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29: Daddy/Daughter Princess Pancake Breakfast at Prisco Community Center, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29: Fox Valley Pop Stars at Prisco Community Center, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 5: Zombie Invasion 5K Run at Blackberry Farm, 5 p.m.

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