The Kendall County Forest Preserve District has been awarded a $316,500 Illinois Department of Natural Resources – Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program grant to open Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve to the public.
Eighty-nine outdoor recreation projects were awarded OSLAD grants in this cycle, representing $28,975,500 in funding assistance.
The estimated cost to complete the forest preserve’s first-phase development of the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve is $633,000, with the OSLAD program funding 50 percent of the project.
The Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve entrance will be located at the intersection of Minkler Road and Hilltop Road in Kendall Township.
Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve was acquired in 2007 when Ken Pickerill, a retired Oswego High School teacher and Illinois football and wrestling Hall of Fame coach, donated 29 acres that included his estate home to the district. The district purchased an additional 60 acres from the Pigott family, establishing the preserve.
First-phase improvements will include widening the entrance drive, establishing public parking, completing trailhead improvements including interpretive and wayfinding signs, washrooms, a large picnic pavilion, and improved trail surfacing that will offer visitors scenic views of the preserve’s oak woodlands, fishing ponds, prairie, and wetland habitats.
Visitors will also enjoy scenic views of the surrounding landscape by hiking to the top of the Ransom glacial moraine formation that overlooks the Oswego channel formed when torrential glacial meltwaters broke through an ice dam, carving out a deep valley where Morgan Creek now flows. Those glacial features formed 22,000 years ago and 18,000 years ago, respectively, toward the end of the last ice age.
The district’s executive director, David Guritz, was confident the project would be competitive within the OSLAD program.
“The district’s master planning team involved every department, with the goal of securing input from our local communities and constituents to strengthen our proposal," he said. "This included support from Upland Design Ltd. of Plainfield, who volunteered their time and expertise to develop the grant proposal.”
Efforts to open the preserve will begin later this year once the grant agreement is formally approved by the district’s Board of Commissioners, allowing the district to move forward with the development of bid specifications to complete the improvements.
While the district is not committed to a specific opening date, improvements will begin by fall of 2019, with plans to open the preserve no later than June 1, 2020.
The Kendall County Forest Preserve District’s president, Judy Gilmour, welcomed the announcement of the award, expressing appreciation for local community leaders and constituents who helped provide input into the preserve’s master plan.
“This OSLAD grant would not have been awarded without the widespread support received from our local elected officials, not-for-profit partners, and local agencies including the Forest Foundation of Kendall County, The Conservation Foundation, Oswegoland Park District, Bristol-Kendall Fire Department, Yorkville Parks and Recreation Department, and Waubonsee Community College,” she said.
Individuals interested in following the progress of the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve are encouraged to sign up for the district’s newsletter, with a link provided at kendallforest.com, or to follow the Kendall County Forest Preserve District’s Education Department Facebook page.