SOUTH BELOIT - Area residents could get their first look at Nature at the Confluence Saturday during an open house for the new facilities and nature area.
A new Learning Lab, Outdoor Workshop and outdoor fireplace recently was constructed at the Nature at the Confluence area at 306 Dickop St. and work continues in the area to restore prairie land and bring nature and history to life for students and families.
Diane Meier, program manager for Nature at the Confluence, said programs will begin this week with the first Fireplace program. The Fireplace programs will be held once a month when people can gather around the outdoor fireplace, roast marshmallows and listen to an educational talk or take part in a entertaining program. The first programs will be on the themes of earth, air and water, so for example, one program will have participants making paper airplanes in keeping with the "air" theme.
There will be family programs and youth programs and most will be free of charge, Meier said. And, she is open to any suggestions as to what people would want to see at Nature at the Confluence.
"We would like to get input from the community, so we have a public input wall in the Learning Lab," she said.
Work to restore natural areas will continue at Nature at the Confluence. A 5 acre prairie reconstruction is underway and it will take four years to restore the prairie.
The Confluence is the area where Turtle Creek and the Rock River meet. It is an area where the first natives of the are were believed to have lived. About 1,000 years ago, mound builders lived in the area of the Confluence. In about 1829, a native American village called Turtle Village existed in the Confluence area.
The Confluence is an area rich in local history and is a prime area for education on the environment.
South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl was one of the guests at the Nature at the Confluence open house Saturday, and he was excited to see what had been completed there and he anticipates others will be excited about what is yet to come there.
"This brings to mind how important the next 100 years will be," Rehl said, noting South Beloit will celebrate its 100 year anniversary this year. "When people see us reinvest in our curb appeal, it should inspire others to come to the area. It will bring interest of others who will bring revenue to the community. We already have a gorgeous park and this is a great complement to that."