ROCKFORD (WREX) — Rockford is living up to its nickname as the Forest City as another forest preserve opens for nature-lovers.
The Forest Preserves of Winnebago County recently purchased the Funderburg Farms property on the southwest corner of Meridian and Montague Roads, next to Severson Dells Forest Preserve.
The 868.6 acres of land, formerly a Funderburg Farm property, is now R. Robert Funderburg Forest Preserve after the farm sold the land for a reduced $3,519,000.
The Forest Preserve of Winnebago County said this purchase wouldn't be possible without the help of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, which provided a $3 million grant. The foundation provides grants to protect both natural and wildlife habitat in communities throughout Illinois.
“It’s been rewarding to work with the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County and other partner organizations to achieve the common vision to conserve and to restore this beautiful, unique farm to its natural condition for the benefit of the environment, the Forest Preserves and the citizens of northern Illinois.”
Winnebago County now has 44 forest preserves, with Severson Dells to the west, Natural Land Institute's Colman Dells Nature Preserve to the southwest and Byron Forest Preserve's Howard Colman Hall Creek Forest Preserve to the south.
“Not only is this a great asset for the citizens of Winnebago County to enjoy but combined with the adjoining forest preserves and NLI properties it creates a 1,650+ acre green space of protected habitat for future generations to enjoy as well as critical habitat for this areas animal and plant communities," said Mike Holan, Executive Director of the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County. "This forest preserve and surrounding properties will offer plenty of recreational opportunities for the citizens of north central Illinois such as hiking, bird watching and photography as well as educational opportunities for Severson Dells Nature Center."