Club Owner Offers to Help Fix Historic Statue in Exchange for Land Lease

By | May 17th, 2018

The 108-year-old, 48-foot Black Hawk Statue, also known as The Eternal Indian, sits in a state park on a 77-foot bluff overlooking Oregon, Ill., and has been crumbling from weather and time. Bruce Novak, owner of Indian Oaks GC in nearby Shabbona, Ill., has offered to put $400,000 towards the statue’s repair in exchange for a 50-year lease on 100 acres of another state park, which he would use to expand the club’s nine-hole course to 18 holes.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is considering an offer by Bruce Novak, owner of Indian Oaks Golf Club in Shabbona, Ill., to pay $400,000 to help repair the historic Black Hawk Statue in Oregon, Ill., in exchange for a 50-year lease on 100 acres of nearby Shabbona Lake State Park that would be used to expand Indian Oaks’ nine-hole golf course to 18 holes, SaukValley.com reported.

Created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910 as a tribute to Native Americans and listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009, the 48-foot Black Hawk Statue, also known as The Enternal Indian, is located in Lowden State Park on a 77-foot bluff overlooking the Rock River and the city of Oregon. But it has been ravaged by weather and time, SaukValley.com reported, and over the years, despite numerous repair efforts, parts of the statue have crumbled and fallen off, with winters proving to be especially devastating.

In fact, SaukValley.com reported, the statue has been encased in protective wrap for 4 years, which IDNR officials have now agreed to remove sometime later in May, to try to generate more interest in public donations.

Novak made his proposal in an e-mail to state Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), and Demmer presented it to IDNR officials on May 15th, SaukValley.com reported.

“The department is willing and interested in reviewing this idea,” Demmer said. “It’s an outside-the-box proposal.”

The IDNR has jurisdiction over both Lowden State Park and Shabbona Lake State Park, SaukValley.com reported, and the department has lease agreements for property in other state parks. It has asked Novak to submit a formal proposal outlining the acres he wants, SaukValley.com reported, which officials will then review to determine the short- and long-term impacts of the proposed course expansion to the environment, wildlife and habitat, and park operations.

“Pending the outcome of the review, they may go ahead,” Demmer said.

Novak told SaukValley.com that he e-mailed Demmer after hearing him say at a recent news conference that donations are being accepted to complete Black Hawk repairs.

“I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” Novak said. “I was looking for 100 acres to use for the golf course. It’s a win-win for [the] Black Hawk [statue], for my golf course, and for the Shabbona state park.”

While acknowledging that the IDNR is considering other options for the statue’s repair, Novak added that “it’s encouraging that the IDNR is willing to look at this.”

Oregon Together, a volunteer organization, recently formed a Black Hawk Restoration Team to raise the estimated $500,000 still needed to repair the statue’s crumbling surface, SaukValley.com reported. Roger Cain, a member of that group, told SaukValley.com that he has talked to Novak, but declined to comment on the proposal.

If funding permits, the IDNR has said that repairs to the statue will start this summer and finish in the summer of 2019, SaukValley.com reported.

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