Wildlife sanctuary named after longtime Jefferson Park Scoutmaster Russ Gremel

The Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary, a Legacy Project of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, was dedicated on June 4. Purchased for its significant ecological value, the 395-acre sanctuary in Lee County provides habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals and offers opportunities for continued site-based research and education through a partnership with Augustana College.

The $2.1 million purchase was made possible through a land acquisition grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, long-time Illinois Audubon member Russell Gremel, and the Society’s land acquisition fund. Addressing his motivation for his donation, Gremel stated, “I hope that generations of young land stewards and bird enthusiasts will visit and enjoy the sanctuary.”

The 98-year-old Gremel made an approximate $2 million donation for the project. The funds came from stocks which he purchased more than 50 years ago. Gremel was a Boy Scout leader in Jefferson Park for decades.