A Central Illinois state park isn't a "state" park anymore

By Beau Ebenezer

May 11, 2013 Updated May 11, 2013 at 10:39 PM CDT

HANNA CITY Ill -- A Central Illinois state park isn't a "state" park anymore.

Saturday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn dotted his i's and crossed his t's as he signed House Bill 1292.

This transfers state ownership of Wildlife Prairie Park to the Forest Park Foundation of Peoria.

"I think it is special that we work together as a state and a country to find places and wildlife," said Governor Quinn. "I think it is special for our children and all of us to get in nature. We should leave no child inside. We want to get our kids outside."

The Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park gave the state of Illinois possession of the park in 2000.

However, after years of budget cuts to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the group of volunteers offered to take over the park.

Now, local legislators are glad to see their hard work pay off.

"It was a pretty unique process to get the state to give the land back, but to forego what the state owed," said State Representative, Mike Unes. "It's really significant, and it's a win-win for the tax payer. It's great for the entire staff of Illinois but really great for our region."

The Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park said they will continue to maintain educational programs, while staying open to suggestions.

From now on, they want all visitors to feel like a piece of the park is their own.

Governor Quinn also announced Saturday that the state is investing $15.3 million to other local park projects.

That includes more than $200,000 for the Peoria Park District's new Tawny Oaks Nature Center.

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