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Future of Wildlife Prairie Park uncertain

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 09:21:19 CST

Future of Wildlife Prairie Park uncertain A non-profit group wants to reclaim a state park in central Illinois. But efforts to transfer ownership have so far fallen short. Buffalo literally roam at the Wildlife Prairie State Park, in Peoria. There's a pasture for bison and deer, not to mention bear, river otters ... and native plants. Bill Cirone, with Friends of Wildlife Prairie State Park, is passionate about using it to teach youth about stewardship, and sustainability.

"Here's 1800 acres, a cut away of central Illinois. We have to preserve this."
Cirone's group wants to take over the park. It started off privately owned, but was given to the state about a dozen years ago. Back then, the thought was that the Department of Natural Resources would be better prepared to preserve it. But Illinois' fiscal crisis got in the way. Area legislators are trying to get the park back into private hands. DNR supports it, it's had to deal with some of the deepest cuts among state agencies. But the measure never got through the House, and there confusion as to why. Cirone says it's frustrating, to the point that some supporters doubt it'll ever happen.   And that loss of faith isn't great for fundraising. Nevertheless, Cirone's optimistic it'll happen soon. New legislation that addresses potential legal and transfer issues is in the works.

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