Mount Carmel, Ill. – Governor George H. Ryan today dedicated a new visitor center at Beall Woods Conservation Area that is providing a permanent, safe place for park visitors to learn about the environment.
“This new facility will make learning about the natural resources of this state more enjoyable and meaningful to the thousands of people who visit the site each year, particularly school children,” the Governor said. “The exhibits and artifacts at the park are finally housed in a secure, suitable home.”
The 2,700-square-foot facility includes an office and work area as well as exhibit space and public restrooms. A one-way glass window at the back of the facility looks over a nature setting outside, bringing wildlife in close view for visitors.
Funding in the Governor’s fiscal 2003 budget provides additional funding to open or provide additional staff at new facilities, such as the Beall Woods visitor center. Beginning this fall, a full-time staff person will be working at the facility.
“Our state parks and natural lands are an important part of tourism and economic development in Illinois,” the Governor said. “Even in challenging economic times it is important that we make a long-term investment in these facilities and in our efforts to educate children across Illinois about the importance of Illinois’ natural resources.”
Exhibits at the facility include information about forests, the history of the site and the native plants and animals that reside there. A park interpreter provides a variety of natural programs at the center from April through October. Weekday programs are available for the hundreds of school groups that visit the park each year.
Located on the banks of the Wabash River in southeastern Illinois, Beall Woods attracts visitors from around the world wanting a glimpse of one of the few remaining tracts of virgin timber east of the Mississippi River where one can see trees 120 feet tall and over 3 feet in diameter. Besides hiking, Beall Woods also offers camping, picnicking, and fishing to the visitor who wants to spend time in a quiet, relaxing setting. Beall Woods had been under ownership of the Beall family since the mid-1800s. While a working farm, almost half of the 635 acres consisted of forest that had never been cleared.