Knoch Knolls Nature Center construction nears completion

The Knoch Knolls Nature Center in Naperville is nearing completion. | Courtesy of Naperville Park District
The Knoch Knolls Nature Center in Naperville is nearing completion. | Courtesy of Naperville Park District

There is plenty of work going on this summer at Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville.

As development of a playground, trails, disc golf and a parking lot continues, the new Knoch Knolls Nature Center is also preparing to open in the fall.

“Construction of the Nature Center itself is nearing completion,” said Park District Director of Recreation Brad Wilson. “In the coming weeks we anticipate adding the finishing touches, including delivering the classroom and office equipment, connecting technology and filling the river aquarium with fish.”

Nature Center Manager Angelique Harshman has planned a series of Family Nature Nights and other nature programs in the summer in other locations as a prelude to the nature programs that will meet at the Nature Center in the fall.

“Our first family nature event, Family Firefly Fun, met on Friday at Seager Park, where participants caught and observed fireflies,” explained Harshman.

When the Nature Center opens, the Park District will offer additional Family Nature Nights, including “Insect Orchestra,” “Creepy Critters,” “ Prowl for Owls” and “Shooting Stars.”

Also, free educational tours of the center will explain the sustainable features of the building. A special adult program on Oct. 8, “Breakfast with the Moon,” will give participants a chance to watch a total lunar eclipse with a tracking telescope and binoculars.

Construction of the Knoch Knolls Nature Center began in summer 2013. The building houses two classrooms for nature programs, a central exhibit area, staff offices, public restrooms, and a large deck overlooking a pond.

Along with the Nature Center, the Park District is constructing related site improvements at Knoch Knolls Park, including a pervious paver parking lot, an expanded disc golf course, a nature-themed playground, and multi-use trails. These improvements, together with the Nature Center, are funded in part by an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Additional funding for the trails is provided, in part, by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The Nature Center will focus on the theme of Celebrating Water, encouraging exploration of the DuPage River, which winds through Knoch Knolls Park. Other features of the center include a river aquarium wrapped around a cistern, interactive videos and wall exhibits, a sculpture reminiscent of the former 19th century sawmill on site, and decorative flooring portraying a river bed.

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