LOVES PARK — In a turn of events, Rock Cut State Park opened its gates on Friday after previously being left off the list of state parks allowed to accept visitors.
Rock Cut, the largest state park in the region, is among 35 additional state parks reopening Friday that were not on the state’s original list of 24.
State Sen. Steve Stadelman said in a news release that he worked with Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan and representatives of Gov. JB Pritizker's administration to get Rock Cut added and that those discussions led to 35 more parks reopening.
"I thank Director Callahan and the governor's staff for taking another look at its criteria for reopening state parks," Stadelman said in the news release.
Initially, state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, was confused why the 3,092-acre park was not allowed to reopen but smaller parks in area such as Lowden State Park in Oregon were approved.
He had also pushed for Rock Cut to be allowed to reopen.
"I think its a huge win for our area," Cabello said Friday. "Honestly I did not ask why because I am just happy that it is open."
Some restrictions will still be in place to comply with social distancing guidelines including no overnight camping and no access to playgrounds .
"The park opened this morning at sunrise," said site superintendent Brad Brown. "People can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, boating and pick mushrooms. They just can’t spend the night."
Shaquil Manigualt: email@example.com; @rrstarshaquil