Chicago/ Parks & Nature
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Published on February 24, 2024
Christian County's Chuck Martin Awarded 2023 IRAP Landowner of the Year in Springfield for Conservation EffortsSource: Unsplash/Claudio Poggio

Christian County's very own Chuck Martin has clinched the title of 2023 IRAP Landowner of the Year, a nod from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources acknowledging his commitment to upland bird conservation and public land access, in a story breaking out of Springfield.

Martin, a seasoned hunter and advocate for the great outdoors, has flipped the script on private land use since hitching himself to the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) back in 2016, opening up his 70-acre plot for activities like youth and turkey hunting, deer archery, and even pond fishing in Christian County, according to official statements.

In a move that would make any conservationist proud, this local author and steward of nature cites his formative years hunting pheasant and quail with his father as the driving force behind his decision to provide the same opportunities to others, sharing in a statement obtained by the Illinois state government, "I told my dad I'm going to buy existing farmland and turn it back into habitat for wildlife," a passion realized with the support of his wife Mary Jo and now actively benefiting the community at large.

Martin has been lauded for his hands-on approach to land management with prairie restoration, prescribed fires, and pond stocking all in his repertoire, he's earned praise from the IRAP crew, as he's quick to praise them back for providing the necessary expertise and support telling the Illinois state government "Every single (IRAP) staff member I have worked with has done what they said they would do and more," but what seems to truly warm his heart is witnessing young hunters learning the ropes just like he did alongside his dad that's the real prize.

Among the other contenders for the IRAP accolade were conscientious landowners from across Illinois, including Jonna Krueger of Macoupin County and Gary Kronable of Jersey County, all whom were highlighted for their exceptional hand in uplifting the state's natural beauty and fostering outdoor sports. For those interested in contributing to Illinois' green spaces, or simply itching for more details on IRAP's initiatives, a visit to their website would be a good place to start, so go online for more information about the benefits of IRAP and how to enroll.