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Benches in, water flowing at Hidden Oaks Preserve

Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock

Benches have been installed, the water is flowing, and the nature center is open for business at Hidden Oaks Preserve in Bolingbrook.

The Forest Preserve District acquired the 33-acre site in February from the Bolingbrook Park District and has been working to make improvements and repairs ever since. The site consists of Hidden Lakes Trout Farm and Hidden Oaks Nature Center

The seven new benches at Hidden Lakes all meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. They have new concrete pads and include an accessible clear space adjacent to the benches to allow for shoulder-to-shoulder seating for people with mobility devices. Two more benches will be installed under the overhang of the new and larger bait shop when it is built later this year. 

Also, an electrical panel for a well that was vandalized and stopped working has been replaced and water is once again flowing into the Hidden Lakes ponds. The four ponds will fill successively. 

Doors open

Finally, after being closed since the sale of the property, the Hidden Oaks Nature Center reopened to the public on July 6 and it has been busy ever since, said Angie Trobaugh, the Forest Preserve’s facility supervisor. 

“People are happy that our doors are finally open,” she said. “We are excited to take advantage of the building’s classroom space with interactive exhibits in one room and nature activities/games in the other. And everyone falls in love with our resident animals who we bring out for numerous ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ following up with plenty of shell rubs for our turtles.”

So far, the site’s firefly hikes and moth mania programs have been incredibly popular, she added. 

“The mission-based gift shop is successful with honey, jewelry, and nature stickers flying off the shelves,” Trobaugh said. 

And the nature center is bringing on additional staff, including David Piotrowski, who worked for the Bolingbrook Park District at Hidden Lakes. He was hired in May by the Forest Preserve as a concessions manager. 

“While the planning continues for the construction of The Tackle Box bait shop, we are utilizing David's skills at Hidden Oaks and he is gaining experience with the District,” Trobaugh said. “Once the bait shop is built, he will once again manage the concessions at Hidden Lakes.”

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