The Forest Preserves of Winnebago County has received a $389,900 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to install a new natural playground at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

Natural playgrounds incorporate elements from the earth such as tree logs and stumps, boulders, and plants.

The natural playground will be located adjacent to the Kid’s Creek Water Feature and Splash Pad in the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden.

“What we’re really excited about is this will extend spring and fall,” said Alex Mills, Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden executive director. “So, when Kid’s Creek might not be running due to weather, there’s still another great reason for families to come out to Klehm.”

“I am especially grateful to see an investment in a feature that will be enjoyed by our children, who needsafe outdoor spaces to play and learn,” said State Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford.

Mills said design and site preparation will take place this year, and the playground will open in 2025.

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