KeNella Clifford Renshaw
The Carmi Times
December 29, 2000
Carmi woman leaves 80 acres to be used for wildlife refuge


Deer, rabbits and other wildlife will continue to find a safe haven on 80 acres of largely wooded, rolling land in southwestern Carmi Township.

KaNella C. Renshaw of Carmi, who died in November 1999, directed in her will that the property (which bisects a little-used rural road) be conveyed to the State of Illinois for use as a wildlife refuge. Should the state not want it, she wrote, the trustees of the land should convey the title to another tax-exempt entity for that use.

Acting accordingly, the trustees last week conveyed the property to The Natural Land Institute, with offices in Rockford.

Jerry Paulson, executive director of the institute, said the state doesn't generally accept such small parcels as the Renshaw property. The trustees were directed toward conservation groups such as the Illinois Audubon Society, he said, but that institution referred the matter to The Natural Land Institute.

The institute is nearly 50 years old, said Paulson, and works throughout the state to preserve natural land for wildlife conservation and to foster the survival of native plants and animals. Former staff members living in Southern Illinois looked over the property at the request of the institute before the organization decided to accept the land, he said.

The institute plans to hold on to the land until it can find a more local conservation group to take over its management; a conservation easement will be retained, however, to protect the land in perpetuity as a wildlife refuge.

The property will be posted for "no hunting," fences will be repaired and a sign put up next spring designating the 80 acres as the "KaNella Renshaw Wildlife Preserve."

"We eventually hope to work with local 4-H clubs or conservation groups to plant trees on the former cropland and to restore it for wildlife as much as possible," said Paulson.

He anticipates planting such native species as white oak and pin oak, as well as some native prairie plants on dry spots where trees won't grow so well.

The institute (whose closest property is in the Shawnee Hills, in Union County) also hopes to retain a local person to more closely manage the property, said Paulson.

People who would like to consider turning over their land for similar purposes are urged to contact a conservation group such as the Audubon Society or the institute. Bequests are an option, as well-but it would be advisable to couple the land with a cash donation to provide for the management of the property. In the case of the Renshaw property, three years remain on a Conservation Reserve Program contract, which will provide some money for the work that needs to be done.

Contact may be made with The Natural Land Institute by writing it at 320 S. Third St., Rockford, IL 61104. The telephone number is 1-815-964-6666, and the Web site is as follows:
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