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Forest preserve district needs vote

About 50 years ago, we saw an early satellite photo of East Central Illinois and immediately noticed the lack of contrast.

Most of the land was light cropland. The limited dark area was woodland, almost all of which was along streams. These wooded areas hold soil and shelter floodplains where water that enters reservoirs and aquifers is cleaned.

They also provide much of the remaining interconnected habitat required by fish and wildlife that have dramatically declined during the past century.

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District manages about 4,000 acres devoted to recreation and protecting nature. This land and associated structures provide a natural laboratory, where thousands of schoolchildren a year learn that there is more to wildlife than squirrels and starlings.

They experience a bit of history by sitting in a buggy or running through a covered bridge. They can also see stars in a truly dark sky and walk or bike 6 traffic-free miles from Urbana to St. Joe. There are also large prairies covered with native plants.

Decades ago, people were asked to preserve local and national wonders for their grandkids. Today, with longer life expectancies, young adults should consider protecting such places to enjoy with their future grandkids.

This fall, we will support the forest preserve district’s modest tax referendum. The district has been frugal for decades and needs an increase to maintain its facilities. Currently, the owner of a $100,000 home pays about $29 per year. When passed, the referendum will increase that amount it by $5.33.