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Three Land Donations Create Opportunities for People and Nature

Published on
21 December 2022

In 2022, TLC received the donation of three very different properties that offer opportunities for the organization.

The properties stretch across the county from Johnsburg to Marengo, and range in size from 1.5 to 61 acres. Here are their stories:

Pistakee Lake Preserve

The map shows the original preserve in green and the new parcels in blue along the east shore of Pistakee Lake. The right side of the map is Lake County.

In May 2022, Jill Theis donated three lots on Bayview Lane to TLC to enlarge TLC’s Pistakee Preserve by 1.5 acres. The original 3.6 acre preserve was donated in 2009 by members of the Ericsson family.

This is a unique area that is often flooded, so it’s hard to work in, but when we do get out there, volunteers and staff are greeted by bald eagles, prothonotary warblers, and red-headed woodpeckers.






The Tauck Family Legacy

Susan Tauck speaking with TLC Board Member Ders Anderson about a conservation easement in 2003.

Back in 2002, Susan Tauck started working with TLC to place a conservation easement on 61 acres of the property she and her husband, Gilbert, owned north of Marengo. It’s a spectacular oak woods with remnant vernal pools and also a restored prairie.

Fast forward 20 years, and Susan and Gilbert now live in Indiana near their son Eric and his wife. Instead of selling the whole 66-acre property, including the easement, the family decided to donate the 61-acre easement property to TLC. They will sell the home and buildings as a separate parcel.

The 61 acres adjoins TLC’s Barefoot Savanna property on Deerpass Road that was donated by Eric Tauck in 2013. Together, they form a new 90-acre preserve called Barefoot Ridge.

We look forward to having an event to welcome members to Barefoot Ridge sometime in 2023.


The map shows the original preserve in green and the new parcels in blue south of Kishwaukee Valley Road and east of Deerpass Road.

Hennen Conservation Area: TLC and Woodstock Partnership

Hennen Conservation Area is a 25-acre park that was donated to the City of Woodstock by long-time residents Phyllis and Tony Hennen in 2009 for the purpose of it becoming a public park. In 2008, the Hennens worked with TLC to place a permanent conservation easement on the entire 25 acres to ensure it would never be developed – except as a public park.

Shortly after taking title to the land, Woodstock signed an agreement with TLC to move its office and base of operations into the farmhouse and other buildings in exchange for TLC developing a trail system, maintaining the house and buildings, and providing year-round security.

This has been a great partnership that has benefitted TLC, the City of Woodstock and the residents of the area for 13 years. Hennen Conservation Area, with nearly three miles of trails, is a popular spot throughout the year for folks to walk their dogs, visit a memorial oak tree (hundreds have been planted by local residents), or to check out the many bird species that are found there.

Hennen Conservation Area: The green outline shows the 25-acre conservation easement area, and the area in blue indicates the five acres that Woodstock donated to TLC.

In 2021, the Woodstock City Council decided it was time for TLC to take title to the buildings and part of the property, and by the end of 2022, TLC became the owner of five acres and three buildings. The partnership is a little different now, but just as good for both organizations as ever: TLC will still maintain the city’s portion of the park, the city will still mow and plow portions of TLC’s property, and we will be sharing a driveway and parking area for the foreseeable future.

We look forward to having an open house in the spring to welcome everyone to TLC’s permanent headquarters!