And nature preserves by definition don't call for much concrete, Miller noted.
"We need some parking lots and some facilities, but other than that, we don't see a huge outlay to make many of these go," Miller said.
And the 500,000 acres that Natural Resources officials maintain among 324 parks, wildlife refuges, conservation areas and other natural habitats bring in $1 billion a year from tourism, Miller said. Additionally, federal conservation authorities estimate that $3.9 billion is spent annually in Illinois on fishing, hunting and "wildlife watching," he said.
Aside from the Pike County land southwest of Pittsfield and about 75 miles west of Springfield, the purchases include:
— $511,000 for 72 acres in the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, McHenry County: The first acquisition of 11,000 acres designated last year as wildlife refuge by the federal government, including wetlands, prairie and forest providing shelter for endangered and threatened species.
— $450,000 for 64 acres to expand the Lowden-Miller State Forest, Ogle County: The land formerly owned by Christmas tree farmers Warren Miller and his late wife Nancy will provide access to the eastern part of the forest which is also named for former Gov. Frank Lowden, who was responsible for planting 500,000 trees.
— $25,000 for just under an acre adjacent to the Kickapoo State Recreation Area in Vermilion County.