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By Angelo Capparella

The Enbridge Energy Company pipeline that crosses both lower Buck Creek and the Mackinaw River, just upstream from our Merwin Nature Preserve, is now in service. This June 21, I attended on behalf of the ParkLands Board the launch of Enbridge’s pipeline integrity tool and had the opportunity to question their staff. My overall impression is that Enbridge suffered sufficient financial hardship from their devastating 2010 leak in Michigan (called the Marshall incident; impacted Talmadge Creek/Kalamazoo River) that they are now investing significantly in efforts to both avoid, and respond better to, any future such incidents. If anyone should ever see or smell anything that might be related to a leak from this pipeline (located just east of the Mackinaw River bridge on the PJ Keller Highway between Lexington and Lake Bloomington), please call the toll-free Enbridge emergency number (800-858-5253) and our ParkLands Land Steward, Jason Shoemaker (309-531-7065).

If anyone has any specific questions about the information I learned from Enbridge, feel free to contact me:


Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF)

We are writing to request your help! ParkLands Foundation is pleased to announce that we recently received a challenge grant for $12,000 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) to support ecological restoration and stewardship efforts at two of our nature preserves along the upper Mackinaw River: Merwin Land and Water/Nature Preserve and Mohr Preserve in McLean County.

The ICECF grant will give us $3 for every $1 that we raise from the general public for a maximum award of $17,000 total dollars. We can receive $1,000 once 100 hours of stewardship work by volunteers is reached at the two preserves. In order for ParkLands to achieve these goals, we must raise at least $4,000 in matching funds dedicated towards our natural
habitat restoration efforts at the Merwin and Mohr preserves and involve more people from local communities in our stewardship activities at these two preserves.

Merwin Preserve, 718.37 acres located north of Towanda and south of Gridley, is being restored to floodplain and upland forest, savanna, and native prairie. Mohr Preserve, 276.31 acres located just to the west of Lexington and southeast of the Merwin Preserve, is being restored to floodplain and upland forest. We will use the funding to purchase, plant and protect additional native trees and to hire contractors to remove exotics like honeysuckle, autumn olive, and canada thistle to name a few. Please consider giving a donation to the Merwin/Mohr Stewardship Fund to help us reach our ICECF challenge grant goals. If you are unable to donate funds to our efforts, please consider volunteering your time to help with our stewardship activities at Merwin or Mohr Nature Preserves. No matter how small or large, your valuable contributions will help us!

Thank you for assisting us in our efforts to increase conservation acreage in the Mackinaw River watershed, protect and improve the ecological health of the river corridor, and provide for passive public nature recreation and education.

To contribute funds to the Merwin/Mohr Stewardship Fund:
Method 1: You may visit our website at to donate with a credit card.
Method 2: Or you may complete the form below and return it with your check made payable to ParkLands Foundation and mail to
PO Box 12, Normal, IL 61761-0012.

The ParkLands Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public membership, conservation land trust dedicated to acquiring, preserving, and restoring natural areas in central Illinois since 1967. Contributions are deductible to the extent allowed.

Merwin Merwin photo 2Land and Water Nature Preserve

This 718.37-acre preserve is part of an 878.37- acre natural area that is both owned by ParkLands Foundation and also as a private conservation easement known as the Sears/Butler property. The Merwin Nature Preserve is located in Gridley and Money Creek Townships in McLean County, Illinois. Part of the northwestern portion is now a dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve, with the rest a permanent Illinois Land and Water Reserve. This contiguous Preserve is the flagship property as it is the best developed for passive nature recreation. With funds raised from individuals and ICECF we plan on removing invasive species from 30 or more acres along with other already planned stewardship activities. These activities will help these acres directly as well as remove the threat of spreading into our savannas and other restoration areas.

Directions from Bloomington-Normal to Merwin Preserve (17 minutes, 14.3 miles)
Merge onto I-55 N toward Chicago. Take EXIT 171 toward Towanda. Turn left onto County Hwy-29. Turn right onto E 2200 North Rd/County Hwy-12/County Hwy-29. Take the 1st left onto N 1950 East Rd/County Hwy-29. Continue to follow County Hwy-29 until it intersects PJ Keller HWY.

Mohr Nature Preserve
This 276.31- acre nature preserve is owned by the ParkLands Foundation. This contiguous preserve is located within Money Creek Township in McLean County Illinois. There are several parcels such as Chapman, Bigger, Bradford, Tom Mohr, Alice Mohr, and Bunney tracts. A large portion of the preserve has been planted in upland and bottomland tree species. There are three contiguous shallow wetland ponds at the site. These ponds provide habitat to many migrating and resident waterfowl, amphibians, and native fish species. With funds raised by individuals and ICECF we plan on removing exotics from a large portion of the property as well as plant promote our current tree plantings. Most of the work will be done at the Bunney and Alice Mohr tracts. We also just got a new partner as a Volunteer Steward at the Bunney tract and volunteers will be helping her maintain work that has been done in the past stewardship year.

Directions from Bloomington-Normal to Mohr Nature Preserve (22 minutes, 15.7 miles)
Merge onto I-55 N toward Chicago. Take EXIT 171 toward Towanda. Turn left onto County Hwy-29. Turn right onto E 2200 North Rd/County Hwy-12/County Hwy-29. Take the 1st left onto N 1950 East Rd/County Hwy-29. Take the 1st right onto E 2250 North Rd. Turn left onto N 2100 East Rd. Take the 1st right onto Dameron Rd. Turn left onto County Road 2250. County Road 2250 becomes N 2250 East Rd. 2450 N 2250 EAST RD is at one of the corners of the preserve.

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Mike Hall photo 2Our gratitude to Mike Hall
By Michael Brown

ParkLands Foundation’s first ever Administrative Director, Mike Hall, recently began his well-deserved retirement. Since the spring of 2012, Mike applied his decades of experience in public service to getting ParkLands organized and professionalized. Over the course of four years he collected, scanned and organized many years of management plans, property deeds, conservation easements, and much more. He reorganized the operational budgets and created an annual schedule for the entire financial process to ensure that everything went smoothly. He initiated a physical relocation of the ParkLands offices from downtown Bloomington to Uptown Normal, saving the organization money in the process.

Mike’s hard work has really paid off; his administrative skills have left ParkLands much better organized and in a better place to manage our current natural areas, apply for new sources of funding, and work to continue to grow and acquire more sensitive properties within the Mackinaw River corridor. He’s left big shoes to fill (literally – he’s wears a size 11), but I know that our new Administrative Director, Erin Herbez, is up for the job. Welcome Erin!

Welcome Our New Administrative Director, Erin Herbez
Erin Herbez 2
Erin Herbez was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She left her hometown to pursue a degree in Conservation Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. While obtaining this degree Erin was able to foster her love for the outdoors and gained appreciation for wildlife, especially birds. After graduating from the University of Texas, Erin worked for an Austin non-profit that focused on water quality in the city of Austin and surrounding communities. Hoping to spend more time outdoors, Erin chose to seek a Master’s degree in Wildlife Biology from Louisiana State University. Upon completing her Master’s degree Erin returned to Austin and began a position as an environmental consultant, focusing primarily on bird surveys for pre-construction windfarm development. Erin and her spouse Andrés, moved to Bloomington/ Normal in January 2015 after he was offered a faculty position in the Biology department at Illinois State University. Hoping to become more involved in the community Erin visited several ParkLands properties and became involved in volunteering for the foundation. Since beginning the position as Administrative Director Erin has enjoyed working with a very enthusiastic board as well as many volunteers that are passionate about protecting natural lands in the Mackinaw watershed and she looks forward to promoting this cause in the future.

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Tree-A-Palooza Event held at Illinois State University Quad
By Jessica Backer
Quad photo 2
Students and community members gathered on Illinois State University’s Quad to support ParkLands Foundation on April 14, 2016. The Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) of Illinois State University hosted the event that started at 3:00 p.m. that day. The afternoon consisted of local bands that played new age rock music and art painted by students of Illinois State University. The event resembled a festival atmosphere that was inviting to everyone and a platform for those to converse about
environmental issues. Other activities included a tie-dying station, raffle and used clothing exchange. Overall, the event was a great success and we are so thankful that the Student Environmental Action Coalition decided to put on such a great event!

Treeapalooza logo 3

50 PL
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Annual Meeting 2016 – September 11, 2016 @ Noon
By Bethany Evans Campbell

Annual Meeting photo 2The ParkLands Foundation Annual Meeting will be held at the McLean County Arts Center at noon (12pm) on Sunday, September 11th. Please join us as we share the accomplishments of ParkLands and happenings from the past year. In honor if our upcoming 50th year, we will be sharing our plans for the big celebration! The Garlic Press will be bringing lunch – please complete and return your lunch order (enclosed) and payment by Friday, September 2nd. Hope to see you there!

McLean County Arts Center, 601 N. East St., Bloomington

Annual Meeting photo credit

ParkLands Foundation Explores Lincoln’s Circuit – June 12, 2016

By Bethany Evans Campbell

Many thanks to Heartland Community College for their support of the ParkLands Foundation and their latest EdVenture Community Education offering. Participants gathered at HCC for a bus tour to Woodford County meandering along near the paths Abraham Lincoln rode. Joined by Lincoln scholar, Guy Fraker, the group traveled to the Metamora courthouse, one of the surviving courthouses on the Eighth Judicial Circuit traveled by Lincoln. Fraker also shared details at the Panther Creek Ford where Lincoln crossed the Mackinaw River along his Circuit. The tour continued through Woodford county passing ParkLands properties along the way including Kenyon Preserve and Ridgetop Hill Prairie, a remnant prairie. Horticulturalist Don Schmidt shared his expertise on the land in this area. The group stopped at Letcher Basin for a snack and to learn more about the prairie. The tour also passed by the Sparks Bridge ParkLands Canoe Launch on the Mackinaw River and traveled to South Wyatt’s Ford, another point where Lincoln once journeyed across the Mackinaw. In this area of Woodford County near Carlock the group learned about the Lincoln Markers and the Republican & Democrat Cemeteries. This was an extremely informative and enjoyable trip. Sincere thanks to Guy Fraker, Don Schmidt, Julie Elzanati, and all participants who helped make this a great experience.

Lincoln Circuit photos

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