- Associated Press - Friday, April 21, 2017

DIXON, Ill. (AP) - The fall of a 177-year-old bur oak tree gave way to new renovations at the Ruth Edwards Nature Center in Lowell Park.

The tree, which stood nearby the facility’s parking lot, was damaged after a storm more than a year ago, but the center’s director, Greg Hunter, was able to salvage a chunk of the trunk.

“The tree has seen the entire history of Lowell Park, and I wanted to find a way to showcase it,” he said.

That led to Hunter approaching the Park Board last year asking to have professional displays created detailing the history of the park, Ronald Reagan’s years spent there and what’s being done to preserve the land.

Hunter has put together displays at the center for the past 4 years, but he wanted to “class the place up.”

The district hired Rantoul-based Taylor Studios Inc. to do the work for about $27,000, and the new displays were installed last month, including a wall mural based on a photo of the park.

The Dixon Kiwanis Club helped prep for the exhibit in January by repainting the center - a fitting task for the volunteers, Hunter said, considering the group originally built and donated the building to the district nearly 4 decades ago.

The club also built an addition to the building in 1991.

The park district plans to extend the center’s hours and include more programs at the park, such as nature hikes and other educational activities through different organizations like the Dixon Family YMCA, which plans to bring about 100 youngsters to the park in May, Hunter said.

Hours and programming details still are being worked out, but he expects planning to come together by May 1 with the help of the district’s new part-time naturalist, Carol Schnaiter, a retired Amboy teacher who taught for more than 3 decades.

The goal is to provide more opportunities to bring people into the park and spark children’s interest in and involvement with nature, he said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of natural history in this park, and all sorts of things to see in this 211-acre island.”


Source: The (Dixon) Telegraph, https://bit.ly/2nkNGtM


Information from: Dixon Telegraph, https://www.saukvalley.com

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