The Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area is gaining support from a new Cass County group.
Known as the Friends of Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area, the group is pushing to keep the park a top notch spot for outdoor enthusiasts through the improvement and preservation of the area.
Cass County economic development director Dustin Fritsche explains how the organization began.
“The idea came from a conversation with Mike Wickens who is the site director,” says Fritsche.
“We talked about ways to support the resources within the county and he said said this is something that other parks around the state are doing to varying levels of success and might be the time to start one of these groups here.”
The Cass County Overall Economic Development Commission is behind the group, considering the state Department of Natural Resources is dealing with budget cuts in several areas of the park.
Fritsche believes the Cass County group can address those problems and more.
“Primarily one would be financially whether that the group organizing fundraisers with the proceeds going to support the budget at the park or selling window stickers to people for $10 a piece,” says Fritsche.
“So it is kind of to support the park budget, supplement what they do have and able the manger and his staff to accomplish more at the park.”
He adds that the group could go a long way in improving the experience of everyone attending the park.
“I just think this is a wonderful opportunity for hunters, fishers, campers, hikers and bikers and everyone who uses this wonderful resource in Cass County to take some ownership and get it back to the level it was 14 or 15 years ago,” says Fritsche.
The Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area group will be holding an open meeting at 1 p.m. on July 26. Fritsche hopes the strong attendance at the park will gain more volunteers for the group.
“What we will do at that meeting is talk about why the people who show up are interested in participating in the group,” says Fritsche.
“I’m hoping to identify people who are interested in taking leadership roles. We will also take a look at what other park groups do across the Midwest. Finally we will set up a brainstorm session to see what everyone would like to see done and what they would personally do.”
For more information about the organization you can contact Fritsche at Fritsche@illinois.edu.