Forest Preserve makes first 2011 referendum investment

GENEVA—The Forest Preserve District of Kane County expanded Meissner-Corron Forest Preserve last week, adding approximately 350 acres to the preserve.

The property, in Plato and Campton townships, is the first to be purchased with 2011 referendum funds. In April, Kane County voters approved a $30 million referendum for land acquisition and preserve improvements.

“We are happy to be able to make this investment,” Forest Preserve District Executive Director Monica Meyers said. “The new property borders Meissner-Corron Forest Preserve to the west and south, creating a 616-acre preserve. In addition to the expansion, the acquisition gives the district a chance to enhance the protection of high-quality natural areas that already exist at the original preserve.”

Meissner-Corron Forest Preserve contains a wetland with more than 50 native species, including some extremely rare wildflowers, lilies and orchids. The new acquisition will help provide a buffer for this botanically significant area.

“When this purchase is viewed with existing Forest Preserve holdings and Campton Open Space property, we are creating an approximately 860-acre complex of open space,” said Ben Haberthur, restoration ecologist for the Forest Preserve District.

“This acquisition places a buffer around the high-quality Russell Prairie remnant, currently in the process of being dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Plus, due to the previously linear shape of Meissner-Corron, much of the wildlife habitat occurred on the edges of the preserve. This preserve addition accommodates the potential creation of larger blocks of habitat,” Haberthur said.

In addition to the natural resources benefits, Forest Preserve President John J. Hoscheit highlighted potential tax savings.

“The district appreciates the cooperation of the city of Elgin in this acquisition. As we gave our public presentations in advance of the referendum, this was one of the parcels mentioned most often. It was originally zoned and annexed by Elgin with the prospect of hundreds of homes to be built. That would have required the construction of additional schools and other supporting infrastructure. Now that the property will be preserved forever as open space, those costs will be avoided,” Hoscheit said. “For these reasons and because the acreage was adjacent to Meissner-Corron, this property was at the top of our list,” he said.