WILDLIFEPARKSPRINGFIELD – Years of less-than-adequate state funding have taken their toll on Wildlife Prairie State Park. The 2,000 acre park, which allows the people of Illinois to see the state's indigenous wildlife in a natural setting, has survived the state's budget cuts largely due to the efforts of Friends of Wildlife Prairie State Park, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the park's mission of promoting conservation, education and recreation. State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) has passed legislation that will permanently transfer ownership of the park to the Friends board.

"We need to keep Wildlife Prairie Park open," Koehler said. "The state just doesn't have the resources to do it anymore, but Friends of Wildlife Prairie State Park can and will."

Despite Koehler's best efforts to get funding for the park reinstated, the state was unable to provide significant financial resources to the park for the past three years.

Though the state is transferring ownership of the park to the Friends group, the legal agreement requires the group to keep the park open to the public and to maintain its current mission.

Koehler's measure now goes to the governor, who has already expressed his support.