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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Nature At The Confluence Clears The Way To A Hidden Creek In South Beloit

Photo provided by Nature at the Confluence

A northern Illinois creek that's been hidden by woods and shrubs is about to see the light of day, thanks to a $30,000 grant and Nature at the Confluence.

The Confluence's executive director Therese Oldenburg said Kelly Creek in South Beloit is named after Mary Kelly.

"She was part of the Irish farming families that settled there," she said. "Mary Kelly had her home right there so 'Kelly Creek' it is," she said.

The creek isn't a secret, but most people from the area don't know about it. Oldenburg calls it a "hidden" creek because it was buried underneath the city.

"Until it was probably about 100 years ago when they were developing the area," she said. "It was just a natural spring that flowed all the way through the city. And so it's been put into culverts and buried, but it daylights right onto the property where Nature at the Confluence is and where the City of South Beloit is going to be creating a new city park."

"'Daylights,'" she explained, "is where a stream that has been buried -- as it was in this case -- comes into the daylight -- where it comes out of the ground."

Oldenburg said they have already developed a trail on the north side of the creek. Now they're focusing on a southern trail that will eventually connect with the forthcoming park. The grant money will go to that -- and cleaning up the creek.

Oldenburg says when it rains, stormwater -- along with garbage from the street -- flows into the stream.

Credit Photo provided by Nature at the Confluence

"If there's a storm, things get a little stirred up," she said, "Otherwise it's a pretty little stream and wildlife is already enjoying it. There's usually ducks and geese meandering around in it and some fish swimming in and out of it."

But there is more to clean than just runoff. Even though many locals don't know about the creek some did, and filled it with foundry slag and junk.

"So we're removing the concrete and tires and bringing it to a point where people can enjoy it again," said Oldenburg.

The grant was awarded by the Dr. Louis & Violet Rubin Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois Community Grants Program.

"I would love to thank the Community Foundation in Northern Illinois for providing this grant. It's to the City of South Beloit," she said, "and we are their partner at the Confluence and helping develop this." 

Though the grant helps a great deal, the Confluence still needs volunteers because, as Oldenburg said, "We'll be working on the project quite a bit this year." 

She said the creek runs for about one-third of a mile, is "crystal clear" and about ten inches deep. 

"It's easy to see the garbage that flows in off the street and we're continually cleaning it up," she said. "It's not a 'one and done' -- it's an ongoing process."

If you are interested in volunteering, click here. If you are interested in seeing the creek for yourself, the campus at the Confluence located at 306 S. Dickop Street in South Beloit and is open every day from dawn until dusk.

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