Land Trust and Trails Open House

Trails are one of the best ways that land trusts connect people with nature! Illinois Trail Corps and Grand Prairie Friends invite all conservation land trusts from around our State to tour and learn from the trail development project at Warbler Ridge, just south of Charleston, Illinois.

Saturday, June 10
8 a.m. to Noon

Warbler Ridge, Charleston, IL

You’ll find a map HERE for the location. To register for this outdoor excursion, click HERE to reserve your spot!

The Warbler Ridge trails project is a partnership between Grand Prairie Friends and Illinois Trail Corps, a program of the non-profit Trails for Illinois. Illinois Trail Corps helps public agencies, conservation land trusts and trail groups plan, design and build natural surface, non-motorized trails that encourage people to enjoy and explore the outdoors while minimizing ecological impact and maintenance.

The young adults who serve in the Corps get expert training and leadership in sustainable trail design and construction, and they LOVE teaching others and showing off their work. At the Open House, you will learn:

• Why Grand Prairie Friends said “YES!” to public access in its newest, largest reserve

• The considerations and methods behind sustainable trail planning and design

• Hands-on trail construction techniques (with sharp, heavy hand tools)

• The role sustainable, low-maintenance trails could play at your own properties

• The value of partnerships between conservation and non-motorized trail users and groups

• How good a bratwurst tastes after a 3-mile hike with over 800’ of climbing! (Yup, we’ll grill out.)

BONUS: A guided tour of the Woodyard Conservation Area, just up the road from Warbler Ridge. The world-class mountain bike trail system at Woodyard grew out of a conversation and then a partnership between the mountain bikers, the City of Charleston, local conservationists and birders to better steward and protect its 206 acres while increasing its value to Charleston’s economy and quality of life.

Looking forward to meeting you at Warbler Ridge!



Support Illinois Nature Preserves

The Illinois General Assembly is considering the Natural Areas Stewardship Act (HB 2031/SB 1029) that would allow expert nonprofit organizations to help local and state government conduct needed stewardship actions on Illinois Nature Preserves.

Nature preserves are permanently protected places that give us rare glimpses of what Illinois’ true nature looks like. Spread across 110,000+ acres in 94 counties, Illinois Nature Preserves support tall grass prairies, oak groves, sandstone bluffs, cypress swamps, and other rare native habitats.

You can contact your state legislators and request their support for the Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Act by clicking on this link provided by the Prairie State Conservation Coalition’s land trust partner, Openlands. 

Please share this information with your members. Together we can make our voices heard and make a difference.


Natural Land Institute accepting nominations for Fell Award

Nominations for the 2017 George and Barbara Fell Award are now being accepted for indiviuals with outstanding achievements in land conservation by The Natural Land Institute. Deadline for submissions is Friday, February 3, 2017.

The award is named after George and Barbara Fell who founded the Natural Land Institute in 1958 for the protection of natural areas in Illinois.

For details on submissions, click here for the nomination form.



Learn how to borrow money for land acquisitions

Ever struggle with finding funding for land and resource acquisitions? The Borrowing Money Boot Camp will help you learn “the art and science of borrowing money.”

Presented by The Conservation Finance Network, this boot cammp is March 14-16 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

For details. click on the link below:

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 10.46.00 AM


Illinois realtors support land conservation

The January issue of Illinois Realtor highlights the benefits of conservation easements and the organizations working to preserve more land.

Dan Lobbes, director of land protection for The Conservation Foundation, and Mary Vandevord, Heartlands Conservancy president and CEO, share their views on land preservation in the article, which also mentions Prairie State Conservation Coalition.

Check out the article here:

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 7.17.51 PM


Land Trust Census is out!


Did you know there were more than 47,000 visitors to Illinois land trust properties last year? Or that conservation land trusts have protected more than 230,000 acres of land in our state to date?

Learn more about the important work land trusts are doing by viewing the Land Tust Alliance’s land trust census here.


Conservation Foundation awarded monarch habitat grant

The Conservation Foundation has been awarded a nearly $250,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create and improve monarch butterfly habitat along the Fox River.

The Fox Valley Monarch Corridor Project, led by The Conservation Foundation, is a collaborative partnership between 12 public and private land organizations that include:

  • Barrington Area Conservation Trust
  • Campton Township monarch_in_may
  • Conserve Lake County
  • Dundee Township
  • Fermilab Natural Areas
  • Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
  • Forest Preserve District of Kendall County
  • Forest Preserve District of Kane County
  • Fox Valley Park District
  • Land Conservancy of McHenry County
  • Oswegoland Park District

“We’re very happy to bring all these organizations together to do such important work,” said Dan Lobbes, The Conservation Foundation director of land preservation. “It takes all of us working together to make a significant, lasting difference for the monarchs and for us all.”

Matching contributions by the participating organizations, which extend across six counties, total nearly $600,000.

The Conservation Foundation is one of 22 nonprofit conservation organizations, government agencies, and other stakeholders to receive an award. A total of $3 million in grants was awarded by NFWS and ultimately will bring nearly $6 million more in matching contributions for the project.

The Fox Valley Monarch Corridor extends over 975 acres and will include the establishment and restoration of 10 multi-acre sites and hundreds of “stepping stone” sites on private land that will connect breeding and migration habitats of monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

In addition to the large natural areas targeted, the project will increase the presence of milkweed in neighborhood yards and local business campuses to help link the pollinators to the larger areas during their migration through the area. Milkweed is essential for monarch survival as their main food source and where they lay eggs.

An important part of the success of the project is engaging more residents in the Conservation @Home and Conservation@Work programs offered by The Conservation Foundation to conserve rain water and create native wildlife habitats that incorporate milkweed plants.

Work is expected to begin in early 2017, and must be completed within the two-year grant award period in 2019.

The grant is funded by the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund, and financially supported by Monsanto Company; U.S. Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Geological Survey; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Forest Service.

For more information on the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund, go to the National Fish and Wildlife Fund website at  

The Conservation Foundation, headquartered in Naperville, is one of the region’s oldest and largest not-for-profit land and watershed conservation organizations. Since it was founded in 1972, TCF has helped preserve nearly 33,000 acres of open space, restored and cleaned miles of rivers and streams, and educated thousands of kids by engaging them in nature and the outdoors.

Work is focused in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties to preserve and restore nature in your neighborhood. Find out more at


Herkert joins Illinois Audubon as executive director


On behalf of the Illinois Audubon Society’s Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce that we have selected Dr. James Herkert as our new Executive Director. Jim will officially join us on October 17, 2016.

We had a rich pool of applicants for this position, but Jim stood out because of his 25 years of diverse conservation experience including work for a major non-profit conservation organization, a state agency, and a Governor-appointed board. 

Jim has served as Director of the Office of Resource Conservation for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources since 2009, leading an office of over 240 resource professionals with an annual budget of over $50 million. He previously spent eight years with The Nature Conservancy, Illinois, including six as Director of Conservation Science, and 11 years on the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board.

Jim is also a nationally recognized authority on grassland birds that breed in the Midwest, with published scientific papers on the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on grassland species, and is active in the American Ornithologists’ Union. He earned a Master’s degree in Biology from Illinois State University and a Ph.D in Ecology, Ethology and Evolution at University of Illinois-Champaign.

We feel confident that Jim’s knowledge, stewardship skills, familiarity with non-profit conservation organizations and Illinois constituent groups, and experience with conservation partnerships involving state, federal and NGO partners are a good match for our mission, staff and members. 

Please join me in welcoming Jim as he leads us into the next chapter in Illinois Audubon Society’s history.

Shelly Knuppel
President, Illinois Audubon Society Board of Directors


Project proposals sought for Mississippi basin streams


Fishers & Farmers Partnership (FFP) for the Upper Mississippi River Basin, a fish habitat partnership, is seeking project proposals to benefit aquatic habitat in Mississippi River basin streams.

Federal funding may be available under the National Fish Habitat Partnership through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund the top ranked proposals.  Priority watersheds are listed, but proposals outside of those watersheds will be considered.

For more details, see the RFP here.


I-View now available to view Illinois protected natural lands

Prairie State Conservation Coalition of Illinois is happy to announce the release of I-View —  a free web-based application and viewer showing, for the first time, all natural lands protected in the state of Illinois.

I-View will significantly enhance the ability of conservation organizations, privateIVMap and public, to do conservation throughout the state. PSCC will own, operate, and update the site on a continuous basis.

I-View fulfills an identified critical need for accomplishing the goals of the state’s Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Chicago Wilderness’ Green Infrastructure Vision, Grand Victoria Foundation’s Vital Lands Illinois, and other local and statewide initiatives that share the goal of establishing an interconnected system of Illinois protected natural lands and waters. With I-View, future land acquisition and current management can be coordinated across ownership categories for the first time at a landscape ecological scale.

I-View was made possible by grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICEF) and the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, both based in Chicago, with support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The I-View team is composed of Angelo Capparella, associate professor, Illinois State University; Lisa Haderlein, executive director, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County; David Holman, GIS Consultant; and Gretchen Knapp, adjunct professor, Illinois State University. Holman did the bulk of the technical work assembling the data and producing the web-viewer site found here.

“We were particularly impressed by the aspects of the project likely to lead to on-the-ground results by assisting users to identify and protect important connections between existing natural areas,” ICECF Executive Director Dennis O’Brien said.

“Most important is the comprehensive and live nature of the data,” Craig Shillinglaw of Chicago’s Openlands said. “It will undoubtedly lead to more cooperation and identification of opportunities throughout the conservation community in Illinois.”

The majority of mapped lands, more than10,000 parcels, met three criteria: (1) natural or restorable to natural condition, (2) permanently protected, and (3) primary purpose as a natural area. Ownership categories include the coalition of nonprofit conservation land trusts represented by PSCC, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, forest preserve and conservation districts, and others.

In addition to the maps, a click on any parcel reveals key data such as acreage, owner, etc. Other map layers provided can be layered to provide information on topography, watersheds, natural divisions and even legislative district. Especially important are the features enabling the creation of custom maps for a wide variety of purposes.