TLC’s Irish Oaks Savanna, a 40-acre preserve in Hartland Township, was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) during its Board of Commissioners meeting on May 11.
The INPC helps private and public landowners protect high-quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species. Permanently protected by state law, nature preserves are private and public lands that have rare plants, animals, or other unique natural features.
Irish Oaks Savanna is a 40-acre wetland/savanna complex outside of Harvard. The site was listed by the Illinois Natural Area Inventory as the best remaining example of a dry-mesic oak savanna in NE Illinois. Savannas are some of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. Other features include a prairie, glacial kame, bur oak savanna, pond, sedge meadows, and at least one state endangered animal species.
The site was named after the abundance of Irish immigrants who settled in Hartland Township starting in the 1850s after they helped build the railroads across the county. Irish Oaks is open to the public for hiking and exploring from sunrise to sunset 365 days of the year. The site is located at 19019 Lincoln Rd. in Harvard.
This is the fifth nature preserve protected by TLC. Two others, Yonder Prairie in Woodstock and Boloria Meadows in Bull Valley, are open to the public, and two others are privately owned sites in central McHenry County.