A wildlife preserve donated to the village of Morton years ago will soon have parking access for visitors to the area if village officials’ plans proceed.


UPDATE FROM PUBLISHED VERSION


A wildlife preserve donated to the village of Morton years ago will soon have parking access for visitors to the area if village officials’ plans proceed.

Village officials want to give Ulrich Wildlife Preserve, located near the new Trails at Timber Oaks subdivision, more visibility and accessibility for residents and visitors.

At Monday’s village board meeting, Morton Mayor Norm Durflinger discussed the possibility of placing parking spaces in a designated section of the Trails at Timber Oaks subdivision that enters the wildlife preserve.

The land, formerly used for hunting and fishing by its previous owner, Dr. Wilbur Ulrich, was granted to the Forest Park Foundation, based in Peoria Heights. That foundation deeded the roughly 72-acre property to the village of Morton in 1970 to use for conservation purposes only.

The preserve has been the village’s responsibility since being granted the property.

However, Durflinger said there are responsibilities the village must follow in order to keep the property.

A resolution, dated Feb. 19, 1970, explains that the village agrees to hold the land as a wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve. It cannot be used for private purposes — only in the public interest.

Should the village fail to use the property as such, it will be turned back over to the Forest Park Foundation.

Here is the catch — Tuesday, the Forest Park Foundation was not aware of any responsibility for the land. Comment from foundation officials regarding more information on the property was pending prior to publication.

*** UPDATE 7/9/08 4:14 p.m. ***

*** We received a call from Jim Tomlin of the Forest Park Foundation Wednesday morning. He said the Forest Park Foundation does have an affiliation with the Ulrich Wildlife Preserve, adding he was unaware of it until receiving our call.

*** "There has been no active monitoring of this property (by the foundation) since the late 1970s," Tomlin said.

*** Tomlin said he joined the foundation in the late 70s and was unaware of the property until now.

*** Adding parking spaces, or even bike trails, would be acceptable to the foundation, Tomlin said.

*** "We feel it is an appropriate use of the property," he added.

Durflinger said not many residents are familiar with the preserve as it is right now, adding it would be nice to give residents better access to it. He said many people would appreciate what the nature preserve has to offer.

He also said it is worth considering doing more with the nature preserve, giving residents and visitors more reason to take a look. Currently, the village is considering its options, Durflinger said.