SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) today announced the dedication of more than 155 acres of nature preserves and land and water reserves in four counties throughout the state. This action will assist land owners in voluntarily protecting this land from development while securing the habitat of threatened and endangered species in the area. Today’s announcement includes dedication of a new nature preserve, additions to two other nature preserves, the registration of a new land and water reserve and additions to two existing reserves.
“The Commission’s actions provide added protection for more than 155 acres of important natural lands in Fulton, Kankakee, Lake and Randolph counties,” said INPC Director Deborah Stone. “Nature preserves and land and water reserves provide habitat for rare plants and a wide array of wildlife. They are important parts of Illinois’ natural heritage.”
Areas dedicated as nature preserves may be used for wildlife viewing, hiking, nature photography and approved scientific research. Areas registered as land and water reserves may be used for the same activities, as well as hunting, fishing and other approved activities that do not impact the natural features of the protected area. All activities and access at nature preserves and land and water reserves are only allowed with the permission of the landowner. In some cases, tax incentives and other benefits are available to the landowner.
The nine-member Illinois Nature Preserves Commission determines whether an area is significant enough to warrant protection as a nature preserve or as a land and water reserve. After approval by the landowner and the Commission, nature preserves must be approved by the Director of the Department of Natural Resources and the Governor. Land and water reserves require the approval of the landowner, the Commission and the Director of the Department of Natural Resources.
Illinois now has 332 nature preserves in 81 counties totaling 44,686 acres, and 134 land and water reserves in 58 counties totaling 37,987 acres.
The most recently dedicated nature preserves and registered land and water reserves include those outlined below.
Nature Preserve Dedications
Lake Co. – Jean Farwell Woods Addition of Buffer (Farwell Parcel) to Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve
The five-acre Jean Farwell Woods buffer addition to Middlefork Savanna Nature Presrve, owned by Frank Farwell, includes surviving elements of mesic savanna habitat that extend from the nature preserve and transition into dry-mesic forest. This parcel is one of five properties (including the Lillard Parcel #2 that follows) that will eventually increase the area protected at Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve to 602.954 acres.
Lake Co. – Jean Farwell Woods Addition of Buffer (Lillard Parcel #2) to Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve
The 3.162-acre Jean Farwell Woods buffer addition to Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve, owned by John Lillard, includes surviving elements of mesic savanna habitat that extend from the nature preserve and transition into dry-mesic forest. This parcel is one of five properties (including the Farwell Parcel above) that will eventually increase the area protected at Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve to 602.954 acres.
Randolph Co. – Swayne Hollow Nature Preserve
The Swayne Hollow Nature Preserve is an 88-acre parcel owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The site provides habitat for a state-threatened species of plant, and another plant which is listed on the federal threatened species list. Other significant plant species that have survived at the new nature preserve include shining clubmoss, ground pine, chokecherry, interrupted fern and cinnamon fern found on the north facing sandstone cliff on the property.
Land and Water Reserve Registrations
Kankakee Co. – Additions to Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve
Sweet Fern Savanna, located in the Pembroke Savannas in Kankakee County, is an 89-acre registered land and water reserve recognized for its high-quality dry-mesic sand savanna and for the habitat it provides for 12 state-endangered or threatened plants and a state-threatened butterfly. While the majority of the site is owned and managed by Dr. Marianne Hahn, the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy owns two parcels adjacent to the existing land and water reserve. Both parcels, totaling 14.7 acres, are registered in perpetuity as additions to Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve.
Lake Co. – Jean Farwell Woods (Portion of Lillard Parcel #1) Land and Water Reserve
Landowner John Lillard sought registration for this 11.192-acre parcel as the Jean Farwell Woods Land and Water Reserve. It will provide a buffer for protection of the nearby Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve. Livestock grazing is allowed in registered land and water reserves, provided that this use has been identified in the management program, as it has for this land and water reserve. Horses will have access to the land and water reserve consistent with the conservation easement and management plan for the property.