“Wetland Warriors” students from Creal Springs celebrate project they helped make possible
CYPRESS, IL – Officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture Partnership, and volunteers from the Friends of the Cache River Watershed today joined Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and students from Creal Springs School’s “Wetland Warriors” program in celebrating the reopening of the Section 8 Woods Nature Preserve Boardwalk at the Cache River State Natural Area in southern Illinois.
The Section 8 Woods Nature Preserve wooden boardwalk, located 3.5 miles south of Cypress, Illinois on Ill. Rt. 37, was damaged by flooding in 2008 and 2011. In 2008, up to eight feet of flood water caused the boardwalk to be lifted out of the ground, resulting in extensive damage along its entire 475-foot length.
A repair project initiated by the IDNR, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, Friends of the Cache, and Southern Illinois Audubon Society last year was completed with financial support from those partners and the “Wetland Warriors” at Creal Springs School. The students committed $15,000 in funding for the project from a $20,000 grant they received last year as a grand prize from the Disney Planet Challenge program for their wetland research and stewardship work in the Cache River watershed.
“Thanks to these students and our partners here in the Cache River basin, the repairs to the Section 8 Woods accessible boardwalk can be celebrated today,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “We all have been thrilled and inspired by the Creal Springs students’ commitment to research and to understanding the importance of protection and stewardship of the Cache River Wetlands.”
The Section 8 Woods Nature Preserve includes cypress-tupelo swamp and a floodplain forest. The boardwalk ends with a view of the state-champion water tupelo tree. The boardwalk provides an accessible, barrier-free trail that offers visitors the opportunity to experience a cypress-tupelo swamp on the Cache River.
The dedication of the repair project, which was completed last fall, was held in conjunction with the annual Cache River Nature Fest scheduled for Sat., May 12 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Henry Barkhausen Wetlands Center. For more information on the festival, go online to http://www.cacherivernaturefest.org/
For more information on the Cache River State Natural Area: http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/CACHERVR.HTM