Remembrance at Pecatonica Ridge Prairie Aug. 7

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118592414611474.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘The Natural Land Institute invites the public for a special event to honor the Frank Sass family for their stewardship of the Pecatonica Ridge Prairie for more than a 100 years.‘);

A special remembrance to honor the Frank Sass family for their stewardship of the Pecatonica Ridge Prairie for more than 100 years will be held at the prairie Aug. 7, at 6 p.m. The public is invited to the free event hosted by the Natural Land Institute, the private, not-for-profit land conservation organization that purchased the land in 2005.

The Sass family owned their 120-acre farm nestled on the hillside east of Pecatonica since 1877. Marguerite Sass was the last member of the family to live on the farm. When she grew too frail to care for the property, the prospect of selling it began to worry the family. They were especially concerned about the future of the small patch of native prairie that colored their childhood memories. Eventually, the family decided they must sell the farm at auction and contacted the Natural Land Institute.

“I was so thankful that the Natural Land Institute had the highest bid,” said Marguerite Sass’ niece, Donna Reber of Crystal Lake. “We tried to attract conservation-minded buyers, and we succeeded. I left in tears. It was special. We knew the prairie would be protected.”

Jerry Paulson, executive director of the Natural Land Institute, describes the prairie as a rare gem. “It’s one of about 250 special places in Illinois that still has a profusion of native wildflowers and grasses characteristic of our nickname the ‘Prairie State.’ In addition, it’s part of a critical area for migrating birds and other wildlife. The Sass family inspires a respect for rural life, a love of nature, and leaves a legacy that will endure for generations,” Paulson said.

Pecatonica Ridge Prairie is open only for special tours. It is at the corner of Conger and Berglund roads. For directions, call (815) 964-6666. The remembrance on Aug. 7 includes placing a bronze plaque provided by the Pecatonica Woman’s Club at the prairie entrance and a guided walk. The event will be held rain or shine.

from the Aug 1-7, 2007, issue

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