The Champaign County Forest Preserve District recently added Heron View Forest Preserve, which is situated along the Sangamon River between Lake of the Woods and Sangamon River Forest Preserve.
It is currently surrounded by private property, but CCFPD is working on providing a public access road this year. Eventually, they would like to offer hiking and paddling opportunities.
From the press release:
As the name suggests, great blue herons are plentiful at the site, with dozens of
nests grouped in some large sycamore trees along the river. A majority of the site
is bottomland forest, and Virginia bluebells are abundant in the spring. The
remaining upland forest area has a good canopy of oak and hickory trees, but the
understory needs restoration due to invasion by non-native shrubs like bush
honeysuckle, privet, and Japanese barberry. The purchase grant included nearly
$10,000 to kick-start that management over the next year.
Floodplain forests like that found at Heron View help to regulate flood peaks by
acting as a sponge that stores water during high volume, and releases water to help
maintain flow during drier periods. The forest also removes sediments and
nutrients from the river, which improves water quality. The combination of these
ecosystem services, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities made the
property addition a natural fit for the Champaign County Forest Preserve District.
Top photo provided by CCFPD.