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Augustana Sells Most of Outdoor Lab

The Illinois Audubon Society has bought most of a large nature preserve in Lee County. Earlier this month it finalized the purchase of 395 acres of the former Green Wing Environmental Laboratory from Augustana College - for 2.1 million dollars.

Society executive director, Jim Herkert, says it's a combination of sand ponds, forest, and savanna.

"We know it has a great diversity of birds. We know it has a great diversity of plants already. Because of the wetlands, it's good for reptiles and amphibians as well. So it's just a great place to come out and see the nature that used to be all around us."

Restoration work by the society should begin soon, and Herkert says a parking lot will be added in the spring for public access to the property.

"It'll look different because we're going to do some restoration. It does have some invasive species, honeysuckle and the like, that have moved in. So we'll be working to restore the natural character of the property."

Augustana College will keep 15 acres that now include some restored prairie and field station buildings. And Herkert says the society and college will work together to teach students and develop educational programs for the public.

The Illinois Audubon Society already owns another nearby nature preserve - the Amboy Marsh covers 300 acres. 

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.