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Progress Continues on Knoch Knolls Nature Center

A fall opening is slated for the new nature center.

Knoch Knolls Nature Center, July, 2014. Credit: Naperville Park District
Knoch Knolls Nature Center, July, 2014. Credit: Naperville Park District

Submitted by the Naperville Park District 

As development of a playground, trails, disc golf and a parking lot continues this summer at Knoch Knolls Park, the new Knoch Knolls Nature Center is preparing to open in the fall of 2014.

“Construction of the Nature Center itself is nearing completion,” said Director of Recreation Brad Wilson.  “In the coming weeks we anticipate adding the finishing touches, including delivering the classroom and office equipment, connecting technology, and filling the river aquarium with fish.”

Nature Center Manager Angelique Harshman has planned a series of Family Nature Nights and other nature programs that begin in the summer in other locations as a prelude to the nature programs that will meet at the Nature Center in the fall.

“Our first family nature event, ‘Family Firefly Fun,’ met on Friday, July 11 at Seager Park, where participants caught and observed fireflies and learned the secret firefly code,” explained Harshman.

When the Nature Center opens, the Park District will offer additional Family Nature Nights, including “Insect Orchestra,”  “Creepy Critters,” “ Prowl for Owls”, and “Shooting Stars.” Free educational tours of the Center will explain the sustainable features of the building. A special adult program on October 8, “Breakfast with the Moon,” will give participants a chance to watch a total lunar eclipse with a tracking telescope and binoculars. Information about registering for these programs is available online at www.napervilleparks.org

Construction of the Knoch Knolls Nature Center began in summer 2013. The building houses two classrooms for nature programs, a central exhibit area, staff offices, public restrooms, and a large deck overlooking the pond.

Along with the Nature Center the Park District is constructing related site improvements at Knoch Knolls Park, including a pervious paver parking lot, an expanded disc golf course, a nature-themed playground, and multi-use trails.  These improvements, together with the Nature Center, are funded in part by an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Additional funding for the trails is provided, in part, by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) with support from Senator Michael Connelly (R-21). The grant was authorized as part of the 2009 Park and Recreational Facility Construction Act (HB0313).

The Nature Center will focus on the theme of “Celebrating Water,” encouraging exploration of the DuPage River, which winds through Knoch Knolls Park.   Unique features of the Center include a river aquarium wrapped around a cistern, interactive videos and wall exhibits, a sculpture reminiscent of the former 19th century sawmill on site, and decorative flooring portraying a river bed.

The Knoch Knolls Nature Center was designed to meet LEED Platinum standards, with sustainable features such as photovoltaic panels to provide renewable energy, a green roof, a cistern that will reuse rainwater in the plumbing system, and a highly efficient HVAC system. Funding for the renewable energy, LEED Platinum design and energy efficiency is provided in part by a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation’s High Performance Green Building Program.

Site plans, photos and additional project details are posted on the Park District’s website at the following link: http://www.napervilleparks.org/parks/knoch-knolls-park.

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