815 Outside is the area’s comprehensive resource for outdoor recreation; inviting residents and visitors of all walks of life to connect with the county’s natural areas in fun, new ways and develop healthy lifestyle habits.

815 Outside was born out of the idea that Winnebago County has almost 20,000 acres of green space between forest preserves, parks and land trust properties, many of which are underutilized. This new initiative is a partnership between Winnebago County, Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Severson Dells Nature Center, the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County, Nature at the Confluence, the Natural Land Institute, Rockford Park District and Klehm Arboretum. 815 Outside is an invitation to get into nature and enjoy the many natural areas that we are fortunate enough to have in our community.

The two big reasons for establishing 815 Outside are to promote healthy living in our community and the promote positive community economic development that can come with the large amount of natural areas we have. Who doesn’t want to live in a community full of thriving green space and outdoor recreation opportunities?

Community health is the largest driver of this initiative. There is a growing body of research that shows the positive mental and physical health benefits of spending time in nature. As Winnebago County becomes a health care destination with our three major health systems, we should be promoting a healthier community for our residents. Currently, Winnebago County ranks as one of the unhealthiest counties in the state of Illinois based on a wide range of health indicators such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity among others. We have an opportunity to make real positive strides in the mental and physical health of our community if we can get our community to be more active and utilize the numerous public green spaces we all pay for with our tax dollars.

815 Outside is the one-stop shop for all things outdoors. The biggest asset of 815 Outside is the website, 815 Outside.com. This website provides resources for managed green spaces in Winnebago County and the plethora of activities you can engage in when you get there . If you would like to find places in Winnebago County where you can go camping, there is a map for that and resources to help plan your trip. If you are interested in fishing, there is a map of locations for good fishing as well as information about getting your fishing license. Other activities highlighted include hiking, paddling, biking, and winter activities among many others.

The second resource of 815 Outside is the Facebook page. This is the one-stop shop for all nature activities in Winnebago County. Like the page to see what upcoming nature events are happening in our community. Join Severson Dells Nature Center and the Natural Land Institute on a Wildflower Walk as we follow the blooms of the season. Visit Nature at the Confluence in South Beloit and engage in nature drawing and nature photography classes. Head out the Klehm Arboretum for their annual Garden Fair. Jump into the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County with the Get Outside, Get Healthy Passport for the summer or enjoy one of the Inside the Outdoors programs with Rockford Park District. There are no shortage of things to do outside in our community. The goal of 815 Outside is to make outdoor pursuits as easily accessible to all as possible to improve community health and wellness.

 

Thank you and get 815 Outside!

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