Party on the Prairie fund-raising event at Nygren Wetland Preserve set for July 14

A sea of purple and yellow prairie wildflowers will greet guests at the Natural Land Institute’s Party on the Prairie at the Nygren Wetland Preserve Saturday, July 14. The fund-raising event is to help the not-for-profit land conservation organization continue restoration of the 720-acre preserve located at the confluence of the Rock and Pecatonica rivers west of Rockton. Horse-drawn wagon rides, wildflower walks, displays of archaeological artifacts and a delicious dinner of locally-grown organic food are some of the attractions.

The Natural Land Institute acquired the Nygren Wetland Preserve in 2000, thanks to a gift from the estate of Carl Nygren. At that time, little of the original landscape had survived. Fields had been drained and streams straightened to counteract—with little success—the area’s natural cycles of flooding. NLI immediately began restoring native vegetation to the land, returning plants that are found in prairies, woodlands and wetlands.

During the past seven years, great progress has been made. Sandhill cranes are hatching chicks in the restored wetlands, songbird numbers are increasing, and river otters have returned to Raccoon Creek. The prairies are especially beautiful this time of the year with wildflowers in bloom. But they are not just pretty. The prairies and wetlands act as sponges, purifying water and helping absorb fertilizers and pesticides that pollute creeks and rivers.

Tickets for Party on the Prairie are available at the Natural Land Institute. For reservations, call (815) 964-6666 or e-mail

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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