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Illegal dumping damages delicate ecosystem

URBANA -- A natural resource inside Weaver Park was vandalized leaving people with a huge clean-up.
URBANA -- A natural resource inside Weaver Park was vandalized leaving people with a huge clean-up. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has more.

Weaver Park has the only prairie marsh in the area. It was reconstructed in 2008 by the Urbana Park District. Over 30,000 plants were planted by hand. People are upset with what happened.

"That's why I tell people to take Illinois Street and climb the berm. There's other ways to get to the park. Nothing wrong with using the other ways. I think that way is just spectacular. You reach the top and it's just like, 'oh, wow!'"

It's a hidden gem inside Weaver Park. A reminder of what was.

"Prairie marshes were common. They were all over by the thousands. They're virtually all gone now."

Robert Vaiden, a retired geologist, was upset when he saw dirt, rocks and concrete dumped on the prairie marsh.

"Can you imagine getting a baseball diamond all ready for the kids' baseball game and having somebody run in ten minutes before the game and dump a truckload on that?"

"Unfortunately, Urbana Park District Lands and public lands in general are far too often compromised by illegal dumping."

Vaiden says he has no proof, but the tracks left behind and the dead trees bring him to one conclusion.

"Some sort of vehicle, a good-sized vehicle, backed down there and the stuff was deliberately dumped."

Students from UI joined Vaiden and other volunteers to clean it up, sending a message to those who broke the law.

"I'm hoping a park district truck will come rolling up, pick it up and roll off the site with it."

But, more importantly, to save the marsh.

"The majority of them would fight their way back, prairie plants are tough."

The marsh also stops flooding near the Scottswood Subdivision. The park district plans to bring the truck Vaiden wanted to wheel away the last of what was dumped on the Weaver Park Prairie Marsh.
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