Anderson Conservation Easement, Bull Valley
This private conservation easement protects several different habitat types and dozens of native organisms. Bull frogs, green frogs, dragonflies, bass, bluegills, green heron and great blue heron occupy the pond and stream habitats; deer, mink, muskrat, weasel, shrew, cardinals, juncos, white breasted nuthatch, oriole, garter and northern water snakes and indigo buntings (among many other animal species) have also been recorded on the easement. The wetland, prairie and savanna habitats showcase a wide array of flora, including but not limited to: cup plant, iris, spiderwort, equisetum spp., sedges and rushes, bottle brush grass, grapevine, prairie dock, willow, ironweed, goldenrod spp., hyssop, columbine, great angelica, nannyberry, pagoda dogwood, hazelnut and bur oaks.
This 26-acre preserve serves as a buffer for Rush Creek and the surrounding wetlands. Much of the area is currently an agricultural field that grows alongside the community food forest which will continue to expand in the area. One large field is full of flagship prairie plants, including compass plant, prairie dock, and white wild indigo. The adjacent pond supports charismatic white lotus flowers. In addition, beavers can be seen in the creek that runs through this site.
Boloria Meadows Nature Preserve, Bull Valley
36 acres preserved in 2004, transferred to TLC in 2017
Today, it is a challenge to find undiscovered natural areas tucked away behind the curtains of invasive brush and trees found along so many of our roadways. But these natural treasures do exist, and this is one such place. Named after the genus of silver-bordered Fritillary butterfly, Boloria Meadows has winding nature trails that lead through high quality prairie, sedge meadow and oak woodland ecosystems that abound with seasonal wildflower displays.
Crowley Oaks Woods, Harvard
83.5 acres, preserved by TLC in 2020
The property includes remnant oak woods, a headwater stream for one of Chicagoland’s highest quality waterways (Piscasaw Creek) and about 14 acres of sedge meadow and wet prairie habitat. The site includes nearly 50 acres of white oaks, bur oaks and hickories that are over 200 years old. Crowley Oaks is part of a larger oak woodland that is nearly 200 acres in size, making it one of the largest remaining in the county. The land adjoins two TLC-protected properties, a 13.5-acre conservation easement and a 6.7 acre natural area, allowing for connectivity of native habitats.
Donato Conservation Area, Woodstock
26 acres owned by the City of Woodstock, managed by TLC since 2006
The restoration efforts here began years ago with the students at Woodstock High School and their teacher, Bill Donato. The woodland is transforming from a dense overgrown buckthorn thicket into a place where hiking trails lead through delightful spring wildflowers and brilliant autumn foliage. Volunteer workdays are held during the fall and winter if you’d like to lend a hand!
Frisbie Conservation Easement, Woodstock
56 acres dedicated in 2011
Meadows of prairie, wetland, and woodland wildflowers and grasses spread out over this land that was farmed until the early 1990s. Landowners Hugh and Marlene have managed the invasive species, performed prescribed burns, and added native seed over the last decades. They’ve been rewarded with a lovely knoll of large flowered trillium standing under bur oak trees.
Harvard Gateway Nature Park
17 acres purchased in 2012
When TLC acquired this site we discovered a true gem: the county’s largest White Oak, with oak limbs sprawling and reaching for the abundant sunlight. In the buckthorn-free woodland and wetland, birds such as the indigo bunting and swamp sparrow thrive.
Hennen Conservation Area, Woodstock
25 acres dedicated in 2008
Phyllis and Tony Hennen acquired this land in the early 1970s, planting thousands of native hardwood seedlings in land that once was farmland. They donated the land to the city of Woodstock as a public park, and TLC moved its offices to the farmhouse. Over decades, the land has transformed into a wild and natural place where trails lead you through a sea of wildflowers and groves of trees.
Hidden Marsh Conservation Easement, Hebron
25 acres dedicated in 2007
When David and Joanne first purchased their land, there was so much buckthorn and honeysuckle that it was hard to see the rise of the glacial kame, the wetland, and even Wisconsin (just across the property line). Rare glacial landforms exist on this property–a few small kames and one long, thin esker. Standing on top of these you will find remnant dry gravel hill prairie plants like prairie smoke and an excellent overview of the whole property.
Irish Oaks Nature Preserve, Harvard
40 acres preserved in 2017
Named after the abundance of Irish settlers in this region during the 1880s, Irish Oaks Savanna features a unique abundance of open grown oaks and pockets of wet sedge meadows. Volunteers meet monthly to cut the buckthorn, allowing the native wildflowers to flourish.
Kennedy-McCluggage Conservation Easement, Harvard
The property includes nine acres of remnant oak woods, with old-growth trees as well as trees planted as part of the forestry program. The land is an oasis of wildlife habitat and scenic views in an area of conventionally farmed fields with little other habitat to offer. The easement is located within a half-mile of another TLC easement and is just west of Stone Mill Trail, providing connectivity of habitat. Becks Woods and Chemung Trail are also in the area. In the spring, parts of the woods are blanketed with spring ephemerals such as bloodroot and virginia bluebell.
May/Seidler Conservation Easement, Alden
24 acres preserved in 2017
Here a stretch of the Nippersink Creek flows through a woodland dominated by shagbark hickory. The landowners have been enhancing the creek with projects that add fish habitat and reduce erosion by the additional of gravel and cobble in the stream bed.
Prairie Ridge, Woodstock
This 9-acre easement protects an exceptional wetland on the edge of Woodstock. This easement is publicly owned, and can be easily viewed from Wagner Lane. Keep an eye out for the yellow blooms of marsh marigold in the spring, and the vast amounts of purple blooming Joe Pye weed in the fall. Prairie Ridge is also home to a remnant population of the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly and its host plant, turtlehead.
Rechten Conservation Easement, Harvard
This site includes approximately 4 acres of restored oak woodland, mesic prairie and gravel hill prairie. This easement is home to hundreds of native species including maiden hair fern, twin leaf, orchids, hepatica trillium, green dragon and so much more.
Remington Grove, Johnsburg
This 23-acre preserve in a subdivision protects Dutch Creek, one of the highest quality headwater streams in the county, and home to a vast array of rare fish that need these cool, meandering, headwater streams. Beaver activity here is common!
Ryders Woods, Woodstock
22 acres owned by the City of Woodstock, managed by TLC since 2006
A group of concerned citizens called “Friends of Ryders Woods,” active back in the 1970s, worked to ensure this intact oak woodland located blocks from the Woodstock Square would provide peaceful enjoyment to residents forever. Today, the City of Woodstock, TLC, and local volunteers work together to maintain the woods. By managing the buckthorn and other invasive species, TLC and volunteers have transformed the woods into an open and inviting sanctuary for people and wildlife.
Simon Conservation Easement, Alden
1 acre dedicated in 2007
Stephanie Shetler-Simon and Jerry Simon acquired a beautiful stretch of land with the Nippersink Creek
running through it. This preserve has spring-fed natural communities that include wet prairie and sedge meadow. The bright yellow flowers of marsh marigolds and blue flowers of iris provide color from late spring to midsummer. These plants provide refuge for amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife.
Soulful Prairies, Hartland Township
33 acres dedicated in 2013
The wetlands and ponds found on this property serve as a resting and feeding place for migratory birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. The marsh attracted a great diversity of wildlife, including birds of concern such as the yellow-headed blackbird and the least bittern.
In the words of landowner Linda Bruce, “The focus was to create a beautiful place with sustainability, restoration and salvage in mind. Each step along the path has brought about growth and change. As we restore the land there is a sense of renewal that we wish nothing more than to share with others.”
Spring Hollow Conservation Easement, Bull Valley
25 acres dedicated in 1977, transferred to TLC in 2013
This easement has achieved Illinois Nature Preserve Status–a classification given to the highest quality remaining habitats in Illinois. Dick and Betty Babcock were the first Illinois family to dedicate a permanent conservation easement on their land in December 1977, making use of the law which Dick Babcock helped create. They named this place Spring Hollow for its many natural springs and rolling topography, and it is still in the family today.
Swanson Conservation Easement, Ringwood
4 acres dedicated in 2009
Walking paths wind through groves of oak trees and around ponds, all offering an astounding view of various spring wildflowers. Few backyards can boast the number of songbirds, frogs and other critters that also call this their home. Thanks to years of careful tending and the foresight to dedicate an easement, this backyard will remain natural in perpetuity.
Dorothy Weers Conservation Easement, Dorr Township
11 acres dedicated in 1993
Thirty-three acres of prairie, oak woodland and sedge meadow will remain undeveloped forever through the two conservation easements Dorothy Weers placed on the property she owned. While Dorothy is no longer with us, her legacy continues as the new owners continue to care for the property.
Westwood Conservation Area, Woodstock
63 acres owned by the City of Woodstock, managed by TLC since 2006
In 2010 this property was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve and buffer for the adjacent TLC Yonder Prairie. Restoration work has been underway for several years to open up the woodland full of massive oaks, and to gently transition the edge into prairie.
Wingate Conservation Easement, Nunda Township
4 acres dedicated in 1994
Bill Wingate, famous for his “Wanders with Wingate” nature walks around McHenry County, lived on this property with his wife Ardath. They transformed their backyard into a wonderful place to enjoy their own nature walks, under the trees and along a stream.
Current landowners Randy and Nancy Schietzelt have done a phenomenal job continuing to care for the land that Bill Wingate tended. Nancy is active with the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, and Randy serves on the board for The Land Conservancy. You can usually find them putting in countless hours of work at an environmental event or restoration workday throughout the county.
Walking paths wind through oak trees and offer an astounding view of various wildflowers. Few backyards can boast the number of songbirds and other critters that also call this place home. Thanks to years of careful tending and the foresight to dedicate an easement, this backyard will remain natural in perpetuity.
Wolf Oak Woods, Bull Valley
30 acres dedicated in 2016
Wolf Oak Woods is named after the Wolf Oak – a large, open-grown bur oak with limbs that spread out and, overcome with their own weight, swoop down to touch the ground and grow back up again. The Wolf Oak tree, clearly visible from a major highway in the county, has become a cultural icon and ecological relic. Beyond this tree, the preserve includes 30 more acres of ecologically intact wetland and oak woodland. Volunteers have been clearing this site at Wednesday morning workdays to free up more sunlight for the carpet of spring ephemerals and wildflowers, such as Dutchman’s Breeches and Shooting Star. A prairie has also been planted near the Wolf Oak to create beneficial habitat for our pollinators.
Yonder Prairie Nature Preserve, Woodstock
72 acres purchased by TLC in 2008
Prior to the purchase of this land, it was deemed the highest quality unprotected natural area in the county. Walking through this site you’ll pass by pockets of remnant wet prairie- areas that rarely have standing water but the soil is saturated and moist most of the year. The adjacent oak savannas and woodlands are transforming from a wall of buckthorn into native habitat for our birds, mammals and pollinators.