Friday, November 02, 2007

Crab Orchard Refuge Updates

I attended last night's annual meeting of the Friends of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. There are were a number of projects I heard updates about, some were new, some I just knew were in the works.

Here's a summary:

  • Bogard Point Fishing Area — While there is already a fishing dock and benches at Bogard Point on the west side of Wolf Creek Road on the north shore of Crab Orchard Lake, the Friends approved a bid last night night to pay for a new 690 feet long walking path to extend from the existing parking lot, as well as five new picnic tables.

  • Bike Trail — The Friends has a committee working on developing bike trails inside the refuge and a surveying class at SIU-Carbondale is helping to do some of the planning work. They are generally looking to develop the first leg from the old northeast entrance of the refuge at Timmons Station Road on Marion's southwest side then following the old railroad grades across the north side of the refuge over to Wolf Creek Road. They are currently working on a grant to help cover the costs of doing this and replacing some of the bridge crossings.

  • Devils Kitchen Campground — The campground at Devil's Kitchen Lake will reopen next year on Memorial Day as a primitive campground. Amenities will include the shower building and plus another 9 or 10 tent camping sites.

  • Turn Lanes on Route 148 — Refuge Manager Dan Frisk told the group that the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Department of Transportation have worked out a plan to provide turn lanes on Route 148 in front of the Visitors Center. As part of the project the intersection of Pigeon Creek Road and Route 148 will be realigned to match the entrance with the visitors center. Construction on this project should begin next summer.

The Friends of Crab Orchard NWR meets the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the refuge Visitors Center at 8588 Route 148 South.

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