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Print

More ground open at Midewin

November 13, 2009 at 04:53 PM

An additional 1,900 acres will open Saturday for hikers to explore at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie north of Wilmington.

Access will be allowed at the former arsenal’s Group 811 bunker field on Midewin’s west side. The larger grass-covered bunker field is just south of CenterPoint Intermodal Center at Elwood.

The bunker field extends into the north end of the 385-acre Middle Grant Creek Restoration Area.

“The area will be open to foot traffic only,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Marta Witt.

A total of 9,100 acres—nearly half of the 18,225 acres at the former Joliet arsenal—is now open to the public.

“The new area will also be open for deer hunting, managed by splitting the former bunker field into two zones: 811 North and 811 South,” Witt said.

“There are over 130 bunkers in Group 811 and Prairie Creek runs east-west through it. We’re doing a lot of habitat restoration in thi s area, removing a few bunkers in areas that will be very wet when the hydrology is restored.”

Midewin also has opened a new Grass Frog temporary trail along the South Patrol Road Restoration Area. The two-mile mowed path crosses some of the most mature prairie restoration areas at Midewin. The trail can be reached from the parking lot at the River Road seedbeds.

Long-range plans call for a permanent trail there, suitable for hiking, biking and horseback riding, Witt said.

“New maps are being published and will be available soon,” Witt said. “The new maps will be available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/mntp/ within the next couple days.”

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