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Popular State Parks To Get A Lot Bigger

Guy Stephens

Two of Illinois’ most popular parks are getting bigger --- a lot bigger.  

The state is buying more than 2, 600 acres next to Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks from Lone Star Industries, Inc. The partially restored land had been used for mining, first coal and later limestone, since the early 1900s.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said the purchase will enhance the parks’ appeal.

“Getting more of the Vermilion River," he said, "and having that rapids and that waterfall, that’s a special experience. And I fully expect we see a significant number of increased visitors as a result, and a lot of economic benefit.”

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Wayne Rosenthal said the state used $11 million from the Open Land Trust to buy the property. He said it will take several years and additional state resources to fully restore and develop.

Rauner and Rosenthal said parking and staffing will be increased, too. Both have been issues at the parks, which have often been filled to capacity on weekends.