On a beautiful spring day in early May, over sixty people gathered for a celebration of two occasions at JDCF’s Wapello Land and Water Reserve in Hanover, IL. The first was the grand opening of a new picnic pavilion and volunteer staging area at the site. The second was the dedication of the 98-acre Addition to Wapello as an Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) Illinois Land and Water Reserve. The event was hosted by JDCF’s volunteer group, the Friends of Wapello, and was attended by dignitaries from the Village of Hanover and INPC.
Funding for the pavilion was provided by a new public amenities grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF). Matching gifts were provided by Vincent Earthmoving, Architect
Joseph Bardusk, the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, Richard Speer, the Friends of Wapello, and the Apple River Well & Pump Company.
The grants purpose is to assist non-profits such as JDCF in providing picnic tables, gravel for parking areas, covered pavilion construction, barbecue areas, benches, and other such things that would be of benefit to volunteers and visitors to our preserves. Requirements for the grant included hosting a public gathering to celebrate the completion of the chosen project. By coincidence, INPC was meeting in Galena to review proposals, including JDCF’s request for Land and Water Re-serve status for the Addition to Wapello, and so it made sense to add the Commissioners to the invitation list.
After a delicious picnic lunch, JDCF Executive Director, Steve Barg, and archaeologist, Dr. Phil Millhouse, gave short presentations which were followed by a ribbon cutting and guided property tours. Phil waited at the southern property line between Wapello and it’s addition to discuss the cultural significance of each site and the work that will be done on the addition to try and determine a historical time line of human habitation.
The following day, JDCF staff learned that the Addition to Wapello was approved as a Land and Water Reserve by the INPC, which had also granted the same status to the original Wapello in 2006. This means that the entire 180-acre site is now covered by an additional layer of protection in perpetuity based on the significance of the cultural resources found there. Restoration of the addition has already begun and will conclude in 2019 following Phil’s archaeology study. The site will be open to the public in 2019. Stay tuned as this exciting project develops!