Major upgrades coming for Duerr Preserve; $400K state grant to help fund $1.24M project

The Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve, 35W003 Route 31, St. Charles Township, will receive a $400,000 state grant toward the Forest Preserve District of Kane County's $1.24 million plan to upgrade the preserve's amenities, officials announced in a news release.

The grant is through the Open Space Land Acquisition & Development program, which will fund up to half of an eligible project, requiring an investment of local matching funds. The district plans to spend an estimated $1.24 million on improvements at the preserve, for an approximate $840,000 in matching funds.

The district will begin official planning and permitting for the project - called Boat, Bike & Botanical - with construction expected to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2024, the release stated.

The concept plan of improvements to the Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve in St. Charles Township, as presented in a state grant application. The Forest Preserve District of Kane County was awarded a $400,00 state grant for the project, which will cost an estimated $1.24 million. Courtesy of Forest Preserve District of Kane County

The upgrades and improvements include:

• Replacement of two picnic shelters. A larger one will be placed near the far east parking lot, to allow more guests to park nearby and a smaller shelter will be constructed further west.

• Replacement and redesign of the parking lot to reduce conflicts between trail users and vehicular traffic.

• Realignment of the Riverbend Regional Trail to promote better visibility around curves. The Riverbend Regional Trail links up with the Fox River Trail and Great Western Trail system.

• A 25-acre prairie restoration.

• A new vault restroom, kiosk sign, water fountain and bicycle rack along the connector trail off the parking lot.

• Replacement and relocation of the current boat launch. The concrete of the current launch is in poor condition. Moving the boat launch further west would better accommodate both nonmotorized and small, motorized boats, due to the Fox River's depth in that area.

• A new ADA-accessible dock and kayak/canoe launch will help introduce new users to the preserve, as well as to the Fox River, and allow a separate point of access from boat users.

Forest Preserve District Executive Director Monica Meyers stated in the release that they were "elated to hear that this project will move forward."

"Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve is one of the district's most-popular places for recreation of all kinds, as well as for environmental education. The fact that it links two major trail systems - the Fox River Trail and the Great Western Trail - makes it that much more important," Meyers stated in the release. "This grant will allow us to expand and improve the amenities here to meet new needs of the community as well as address safety and accessibility initiatives."

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources administers the OSLAD grants, which are funded by a percentage of Illinois' Real Estate Transfer Tax.

Forest Preserve President Chris Kious stated in the release that the district is "incredibly grateful to IDNR for seeing the benefits in this project, and for their long-standing support of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County."

"The District regularly applies for and receives OSLAD grant funding for both land acquisition and development projects," Kious stated in the release. "This helps Forest Preserve District funds to stretch even further."

The Kane County Forest Preserve grant award is part of a $30.3 million in Open Space Land Acquisition & Development grants that were announced July 8. The full list of award recipients is available on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website,

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