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Strategic plan for Pyramid State Park to be revealed Thursday

  • A sheltered pond at Pyramid State Park, taken in the fall.

    A sheltered pond at Pyramid State Park, taken in the fall.
    Daniel Herbst photo

Submitted by Kyle Harfst,
Office of Economic and Regional Development
updated: 6/12/2019 9:42 AM

PINCKNEYVILLE -- A strategic plan aimed at improving the increasingly popular Pyramid State Recreation Area will be released Thursday, from 5-7 p.m. at the Perry County Fairgrounds' grandstand.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale, the Friends of Pyramid State Park, and constituent groups who regularly utilize Pyramid State Recreation Area in Perry County, will be involved.

Pyramid State Recreation Area is the largest state park in Illinois. At 19,701 acres, the park covers a significant portion of southwestern Perry County. It includes reclaimed surface mines that are highlighted by large, deep lakes and lush grasslands that serve as home to numerous wildlife and waterfowl species.

The area is rapidly becoming a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts from throughout the Midwest.

The goal of the strategic planning process has been to engage constituent groups and individuals who are frequent users of the park, to rally around the common themes of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the park and how to capitalize on the strengths and opportunities while addressing the weaknesses and threats.

Among the most pressing of threats is the encroachment of invasive species of plants, including autumn olive and shatter cane, and how to eradicate these species at the park.

Kyle Harfst, executive director of SIUC's Office of Economic and Regional Development, helped lead the planning process at the direction of the late Carlos Montemagno, who was chancellor of the Carbondale campus at the time.

Harfst has been fielding input from a disparate group of users including field trial clubs, waterfowl groups, fishing clubs and others, and balancing those conversations with the natural and biological considerations necessary for the park.

"Draft vision and mission statements have been created, in addition to strategic goals and objectives to fulfill those goals," Harfst said.

Harfst described the June 13 gathering as "a public informational meeting to allow the public to provide comment on the plan, in addition to making further suggestions, either verbally or in writing."

A number of task force members will be available to answer questions at the meeting.