Dedicated Nature Preserves
The Lake County Forest Preserves is looking to permanently protect some of its highest-quality natural areas that have rare plants, animals and other unique natural features by registering them into the Illinois Nature Preserves System. As a dedicated nature preserve, these remnant natural areas receive an added level of conservation protection by the District and the state to keep them ecologically sustainable.
At their monthly meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved resolutions to provide Illinois Nature Preserve status for portions of land within three of its forest preserves: Grant Woods (Fox Lake), Lakewood (Wauconda) and Ethel’s Woods (Antioch). Using the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act, the distinction permanently protects the remnants of critically important ecological communities and ensures the land will remain in a natural state to provide important habitat for plants and animals. To gain final dedication status, the resolutions must now be approved by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC), which is a branch of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The INPC considers the ecological quality of the natural area and any endangered or threatened species when choosing the land it protects.
“State nature preserves are given the highest degree of protection from encroachment, degradation or alteration,” said Leslie Berns, Manager of Landscape Ecology at the Lake County Forest Preserves. “The ability and responsibility to protect these lands for people today and for generations to come is at the core of the nationally acclaimed program,” she said.
The mission of the state organization is to assist private and public landowners in attaining legal protection for high-quality natural areas and habitats for endangered and threatened species. The INPC promotes the preservation of these lands and provides leadership in their stewardship, management and protection. Areas dedicated as Illinois Nature Preserves may only be used for passive activities including hiking, wildlife watching, photography, and approved scientific research and programming.
The Lake County Forest Preserves, the second largest Forest Preserve District in Illinois, will continue to own and maintain the protected properties.
The properties under consideration for the dedication are:
366 acres within Ethel’s Woods Forest Preserve. The portion that would be dedicated is part of the largest intact forest in northern Lake County. Dedication is important for the protection of the forest block and surrounding wetland, savanna and prairie communities. The area provides habitat for forest interior bird species including the brown creeper, wood thrush, and a state-listed threatened species, the black-billed cuckoo. Several unique plants species including hepatica, blue cohosh, and maidenhair fern are found in the preserve.
354 acres of Broberg Marsh and 355 acres of Schreiber Lake Bog, both at Lakewood Forest Preserve. Broberg Marsh, in the northwest portion of the preserve, is regionally renowned for its habitat which supports wetland-specific breeding birds. The 90-acre wetland provides nesting habitat for six state endangered bird species including American bitterns, black terns, common moorhen, black-crowned night-herons, common terns and yellow-headed blackbirds. Schreiber Lake Bog is in the southeast portion of the preserve and supports habitat for several endangered and threatened northern boreal bog plant species.
A 279-acre buffer and a separate 3-acre parcel at Grant Woods Forest Preserve. The preserve provides habitat for twelve state endangered and seven state threatened plant species. The buffer borders the northern and eastern boundaries of Gavin Bog and Prairie Nature Preserve, of which 136.5 acres are already dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The preserve's natural communities, marsh, sedge meadow, forest, prairie, and bog provide habitat for rare plant species as well as many common animal species. The additional 3 acres directly adjacent to Gavin Bog and Prairie Nature Preserve would complete protection of the entire 38-acre bog community.
Portions of Almond Marsh (Grayslake), Berkeley Prairie (Highland Park), Wright Woods (Mettawa), Ryerson Conservation Area (Riverwoods), Fourth Lake (Lake Villa), Grainger Woods (Mettawa), Lakewood (Wauconda), Lyons Woods (Beach Park), Middlefork Savanna (Lake Forest), Rollins Savanna (Grayslake), Spring Bluff (Winthrop Habor), Sun Lake (Lake Villa), and Wadsworth Prairie (Wadsworth) forest preserves have already been dedicated as Illinois Nature Preserves.
Lake County has the most dedicated nature preserves and the most endangered and threatened species of any county in the state of Illinois.
Jim Anderson, Director of Natural Resources, janderson@LCFPD.org, 847-968-3282
Kim Mikus, Communications Specialist, kcroke@LCFPD.org, 847-968-3202