Wildlife Prairie bill passes out of State House, onto the Senate

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Legislation that would put Wildlife Prairie State Park back into private ownership was approved by the Illinoise House of Representatives on Friday, announced State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, the bill's chief sponsor.

Specifically, adoption of the bill by the General Assembly would allow the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park to assume ownership of the wildlife refuge that was private until 2000, when the state took it over. The bill now advances to the Senate for its approval.

"Wildlife Prairie Park is one of the Central Illinois' greatest treasures," said Gordon-Booth. "I am so grateful for the work that the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park is undertaking to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy and learn from this unique setting. I look forward to continuing to work and assist the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park in the future. I also want to thank Representatives (Michael) Unes and (David) Leitch. This truly was a bipartisan effort and I greatly appreciate their leadership."

William Rutherford founded Wildlife Prairie Park on 480 acres of land. The land is used for the protection and conservation of natural ecosystems found in Central Illinois. The Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park gave the state of Illinois possession of the park in 2000. After years of budget cuts to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park have offered to take over the maintenance of the park to keep it open to the public

House Bill 1292 requires that the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park to maintain the education and recreational facilities of the park. If passed, the state of Illinois will transfer the maintenance and management responsibilities to the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park.

"Wildlife Prairie Park is one of a kind," said Bill Cirone, board member of Wildlife Prairie Park. "Our board wants to make sure that we preserve an important educational opportunity and tourist destination in Central Illinois. We would like to thank Representative Gordon-Booth for her leadership on this issue."

For more information about this or other upcoming legislation, please contact Rep. Gordon-Booth's constituent service office at (309) 681-1992 or repjgordon@gmail.com.