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Jason's Journal

An Illinois Stay-Cation

June 2012 -  Warm weather and bright sunshine are sure signs of summer here at Emiquon. Though many people will enjoy vacationing at beaches and waterparks, there are plenty of summer activities offered closer to home. Emiquon’s hiking trail boating and fishing opportunities and newly added visitor-use amenities make for delightful summer day trips.

Though our restoration work is always our number one priority here at Emiquon, last year we added several new amenities to the preserve, such as the Lakeside and Wetland Observatories, a two-mile hiking trail, boardwalks, boat launch and canoe launch.

The new Lakeside and Wetland Observatories are especially popular with school groups and provide visitors with stunning views of the preserve. Guests can take in the sights of Emiquon from the observation platform or use the spotting scopes for better views of the wildlife.

Last week Peoria Academy grade school and Havana New Central Elementary used these new amenities to view a variety of turtles and fish. I have also seen otters and quite a few black-necked stilts. The observatories include interpretive materials that provide visitors with information about the wetland restoration process and the history of the Illinois River.

The new hiking trail boat and canoe launches and boardwalks have been a hit with visitors as well. In fact, I met two women during our Earth Day Celebration who said they come out many times per week to hike the trail and watch wildlife. I’m happy to see the new facilities are so welcomed by our guests.

Aside from our new facilities, Emiquon and our partners offer many recreational opportunities for visitors. The Dickson Mounds Museum is a must stop for area visitors wanting to learn more about our cultural history. Their interactive exhibits provide fun and educational opportunities for school groups and families. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife property adjacent to our preserve offers hiking, wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing.

There are also numerous research and education programs offered by the museum and University of Illinois Springfield's Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon. For those wanting to learn more about our local communities of Lewistown, Canton and Havana and nature sites in addition to Emiquon and our partners, I encourage you to visit the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byways website, click here.

Looking back on this past year, I smile and am proud to know our facilities and natural resources have been embraced by so many communities. People from the Master Naturalist continuing education program, church groups and community organizations frequent Emiquon. School groups from Peoria, Havana, Lewistown and teachers from many of our neighboring counties are turning up for training. College classes from the University of Illinois, Knox College and Spoon River College come here to learn as well.

I look forward to the many more visitors this warm, sunny summer will bring us. For more information about events happening at Emiquon over the summer, click here.
 

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