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updated: 1/3/2011 4:33 PM

Lake Co. forest board eyeing land buy

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Lake County Forest Preserve District officials are getting right to work in 2011 by preparing to buy more land.

The forest board's land preservation and acquisition committee on Monday unveiled plans to purchase additions to two existing preserves.

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One deal would add nearly 44 acres to the Prairie Stream Forest Preserve in the Antioch area. The land would cost $1.9 million.

The second deal would add more than 4 acres to the Nippersink Forest Preserve near Round Lake. That plan has a $1.5 million price tag.

The land that would be added to Prairie Stream is north of the preserve on Route 45, according to a district memo. If the purchase goes through, it would bring the preserve to nearly 330 acres.

"It also borders the Redwing Slough, which is one of the highest quality natural areas in the state," said Tom Hahn, the district's executive director.

A 100-year-old stand of woods and a pond also are important features on the property for bird habitat and recreational use.

"This will be one of those sites you'll take your kids fishing," he said. "It's a good price and certainly adds nicely to Prairie Stream."

What is know as the Bath property also includes a single-family house and a pole barn. The seller has requested to lease the buildings for one year after the deal closes.

The buildings will be examined for potential use by the district. If they have no such value, they could be razed.

The land being considered as an addition to the Nippersink preserve is on Route 120 and is bordered on the north and west by the preserve, according to district documents.

It would grow the preserve to about 315 acres.

The land now is being leased to the Gerber Group, which operates an automobile repair facility there. The lease expires in 2013 and has a five-year renewal option, according to a memo from Hahn.

The lease with Gerber would net the forest district $363,896 until 2013, the memo says. A five-year lease extension would generate an additional $750,000 for the district.

Hahn said the property is near the entrance to the Nippersink Forest Preserve and the district had concerns about unsuitable uses in the future.

In the memo, Hahn recommended demolishing the buildings after the lease expires if they have no use for the district or significant historical value.

The forest board's finance committee will review the proposals, too. The full board could vote on the deals Tuesday, Jan. 11.

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