Our natural resource crews and project partners have been working to restore this unique preserve to enhance its valuable ecosystems. More than 450 acres of former farmland have been restored as part of a massive habitat restoration and preservation project here, representing the largest restoration effort we've ever undertaken.
Unique to Rollins Savanna is its large size, uninterrupted by roads and development, and its existing diverse natural resource features. Rich black soils found at this preserve once dominated Midwestern landscape in the 1800s. The preserve protects the south fork of Mill Creek, frontage on Third Lake and large interior wetland complexes that provide needed food sources and rest stops for ruddy ducks, blue-winged teal, great blue herons, egrets and a variety of waterfowl species. Grassland birds, waterfowl and other wildlife are drawn to the site’s oak savannas and expansive prairies and wetlands.
Extensive habitat restoration efforts were completed along the Mill Creek corridor and on over 200 acres of wetlands. One of the project goals is to establish Rollins Savanna as an ecological research site and outdoor classroom for local universities, schools and other organizations.
Birder's Field of Dreams
In 2005, Rollins Savanna was named an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society due to the large number of endangered yellow-headed blackbirds that have found refuge here. Dubbed a “Birder’s Field of Dreams,” Rollins Savanna is favored by bird watchers.
A bird observation area near the Drury Lane parking area provides a safe, accessible way for all of our visitors to view and enjoy birds. This observation area consists of a 100-foot stone path that provides access from the existing preserve trail system to a raised platform. This observation deck is a gathering space that offers a clear view of the adjacent grassland and wetland.
The deck features magnified viewing scopes. Interpretive signs inform visitors about habitat and species they might see from that vantage point. Oak trees around the seating area provide shade for visitors using the observation deck and also help them blend into the landscape to create less of a disturbance to wildlife using that habitat.