Jeff Lampe’s Outdoors column on www.prairiestateoutdoors.com.
For the past few years I've been waiting patiently.
Sooner or later, I knew somebody was going to develop a Web site focusing on outdoors activities across Illinois.
Sooner or later somebody was going to deliver daily news updates on hunting, fishing, birding and other topics. To check in regularly on the deeds and misdeeds of the Department of Natural Resources. To provide pictures and profiles of anglers and hunters. To warn us in time about biting fish and migrating birds.
In short, somebody was going to create a comprehensive, statewide Web site devoted strictly to outdoors in Illinois.
But no such site materialized. Repeated Googlings of "outdoors" and "Illinois" came up relatively empty.
Sure there are plenty of Web sites out there dealing with fishing or hunting in Illinois or focusing on specific regions of the state. Some are even worth bookmarking.
But in my mind, there's still been a void. There's still been room for a comprehensive Illinois site. Until recently.
For the past month, a group of us at the Journal Star have made steps to fill that void. Last Wednesday we debuted Prairie State Outdoors (www.prairiestateoutdoors.com), a Web site devoted to the outdoors in Illinois.
Our goal is for Prairie State Outdoors to be "Illinois' Premier Outdoors Web Site." That means we won't limit our focus to central Illinois but will do our best to cover this long Prairie State from Chicago to Cairo.
That's a lot to cover and may explain why the void exists. It also explains why, at present, our main emphasis is on hunting, fishing and birding.
There are still bugs to work out and new wrinkles to unveil in the weeks to come. Someday we hope to expand coverage to include paddling, camping, shooting sports, biking, trapping, boating and possibly even more. But first we've got to do a good job with our core coverage areas.
That means plenty of news about hunting, fishing and birding. Yes, birding. If you like watching birds, I hope you'll be pleased with the information we plan to provide.
You may notice heavy use of the word "we" in this column.
That's because Prairie State Outdoors will function best as a joint effort with contributions from any willing GateHouse Media newspapers in Illinois.
And that's because several people worked hard to get Prairie State Outdoors off the ground. Credit goes to Eric Harms for drawing up a design and to Adam Geyer for helping implement that design. Even more credit goes to Shea VanLaningham for his hard work.
That said, the driving force behind this site is online editor Jerry Smith. I'm not convinced Jerry knows much about hunting and fishing. He does know plenty about Web sites. With Smith's guidance we've tried to create a site that is visually appealing, easy to navigate and that provides plenty of timely information.
I hope that's what you discover when you visit Prairie State Outdoors. Better yet, bookmark the site and come back several times a day to check news updates, to read features and to peruse pictures and profiles of your friends and neighbors.
Jeff Lampe is Journal Star outdoors columnist. Write to him at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3212 or e-mail email@example.com.