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Our View: Oh, the glory of open space

Visiting a space where nature is king can bring such joy to the heart.

Today, the Kane County Chronicle wraps up its three-day series on local open space. The series looked at the history of open space, its importance and how it can be balanced with development.

What is clear is that Kane County residents truly appreciate forest preserves, parks and other types of open space – made evident, among other measures, by the passage of four Kane County Forest Preserve District referendums since 1999.

To be sure, many advantages come with designating specific parcels of land as open space.

Land free of heavy development draws those who want to enjoy the outdoors. It attracts men, women and children who want to hike, bike, fish and explore.

Open space is an outlet for fun and relaxation; it’s a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

In addition, open space advocates note that protected pieces of land can actually save taxpayers money in the long term. In our three-day series, John Hoscheit, president of the Kane County Forest Preserve District Board, explained that – unlike open space – developing a subdivision often demands that a new school be built and that homeowners pay a permanent tax increase to fund it. On the other hand, he said, a successful forest preserve district referendum leads to a temporary tax increase that lasts about 15 to 20 years.

“The incremental cost per household is 10 percent of what it would cost to pay for new schools, which is a permanent increase,” Hoscheit said.

Other important benefits of designating land as open space include flood control, wind buffering and carbon dioxide absorption.

And, perhaps most importantly – without protection – the genuine beauty of natural formations, such as the Oak-Hickory woodlands at Culver Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove or the array of wildflowers at Hickory Knolls Natural Area in St. Charles, might be lost to future generations.

Kane County is a spectacular area in which to live, work and play, thanks in large part to the amazing natural areas and open spaces that many have worked to preserve.

Those who haven’t taken the time lately to enjoy the outdoors should do themselves that favor. Spring is calling, and open space – in all its glory – awaits.

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