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Next phase of airport construction plan at Bell Bowl Prairie remains unclear

Outside of the Bell Bowl Prairie
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Outside of the Bell Bowl Prairie

Rockford Airport officials suspended construction at the Bell Bowl Prairie in the fall to re-evaluate their plan with state agencies. Nearly 3 months later, it’s unclear to the public when the project will resume.

A group of protestors recently interrupted Rockford Airport Executive Director Mike Dunn during his recent State of the Airport address. In an exchange captured on social media, the group can be seen revealing a large banner reading “Save Bell Bowl Prairie.” 


Protestors can be heard asking officials, “why does the public not have input into our Airport?' and "What about the prairie?"

The airport authority has repeatedly turned down WNIJ’s requests for information on the start date of construction over the remnant prairie. It has also turned down WNIJ’s request for details of the environmental impact evaluation that the authority last year said it would conduct in coordination with state and federal agencies.

For their part, The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the Airport Authority has not responded to a consultation letter suggesting that the airport pursue an “Incidental Take Authorization” permit for state-listed species found in the vicinity of the proposed construction project.

IDNR says, “it remains willing and ready to work with airport leaders and conservation organizations to discuss alternatives that would preserve the prairie remnant.”

A rally to save the prairie is planned Thursday before the Airport Authority is scheduled to meet.