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Hadley Valley and Kraske preserves get bigger with land acquisition, donation

Hadley Valley Preserve.

The Forest Preserve District recently purchased 47.5 acres that will enlarge the existing Hadley Valley preserve in Homer Township, and it received a donation of 6.3 acres that will expand Kraske Preserve in Crest Hill. 

Both parcels are adjacent to these preserves, so they fit into the Forest Preserve’s mission of expanding existing holdings.

Hadley Valley acquisition

The Hadley Valley acquisition was funded with an Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant that paid for 80 percent of the purchase price and included $10,000 for restoration work.

The parcel is east of Interstate 355 and south of Bruce Road in the Spring Creek Greenway. It is a key acquisition in an area of Will County facing higher development pressures, said Colleen Novander, the Forest Preserve District’s director of planning and land preservation.

“When land preservation opportunities consistent with the mission of the Forest Preserve arise, we jump at the opportunity to work with landowners and establish partnerships to ensure its preservation in perpetuity,” she said. “It could have easily been sold and converted to another use. Instead, the landowner reached out to the Forest Preserve to inquire about our interest in the parcel.”

The land has frontage along Bruce Road, and because it shares boundaries with Hadley Valley it offers opportunities for land management continuity as well as future opportunities for recreational development, Novander added.

The Forest Preserve District applied for an Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant through the agency's Land Acquisition Grant Program.

“This award is the second Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant the Forest Preserve has been presented for acquisitions at Hadley Valley,” Novander said.  “Totaling nearly 130 acres, the Foundation provided over $3.11 million towards these acquisitions!”

The site will remain in agricultural production this year and will be seeded with a native prairie species mix after the final crop harvest in the fall of 2022.

Kraske land donation

The Kraske Preserve addition was donated by David Maryanovich and his family. 

"The property was passed down to him through his family and he has fond memories of spending time on it as a youth,” Novander said. “The property remained undeveloped through the years, and Mr. Maryanovich reached out to the Forest Preserve to gauge our interest.”

The parcel is located east of the existing Kraske Preserve and south and west of Crest Hill Memorial Park, which is owned by the Lockport Township Park District.

The donation, in combination with the existing preserve and the park, will preserve a block of approximately 80 acres of land, protecting the natural resources of the area including natural wetlands and floodplain. 

“Anytime existing protected open space can be linked together, it is a win,” Novander said.

Donations that align with the Forest Preserve’s mission don’t happen often, she added, and it’s always rewarding to work with landowners who share a passion for preservation.

“The Forest Preserve receives the land, and donors receive satisfaction in the knowledge that the land is protected in perpetuity,” she said.

The quest continues

With the recent land acquisition and donation, the Forest Preserve District now owns, leases or manages 23,073 acres.

The quest to add more land will continue, Novander said. Protecting open space is important for ecological reasons and to provide recreational amenities for residents.

“Our Land Preservation Program evaluates opportunities in every area of the county, and it is a goal to have our services and preserves accessible to all. We can all see Will County developing, and through strategic land acquisition, the Forest Preserve can protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.”

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