Outstanding natural area in Ogle County preserved
From press release
OREGON, Ill.—An important piece of Ogle County’s natural environment has been preserved forever, thanks to the combined efforts of several organizations.
With the help of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Prairie Preservation Society of Ogle County (PPSOC) purchased an 83-acre tract south of Oregon, Ill. The land, locally known as Prairie Ridge, had been part of Sinnissippi Forest’s Christmas tree operation, which closed last December.
The site has been known as an outstanding natural area for many years. Doug and Dot Wade and Tim Keller, who brought Nachusa Grasslands to the attention of biologists and eventually The Nature Conservancy, recognized its high value in the 1970s and proposed that a preservation organization buy it. The Wades and Keller were also among the founders of PPSOC, the oldest prairie preservation organization in Illinois.
It was an undisturbed prairie remnant until 25 years ago when some of it was planted in Christmas trees by the owner. The forester in charge supervised the plantings to avoid the highest quality prairie areas and to protect other areas as well as possible. He also supervised prescribed burning. Cutting and removing the trees was the only disturbance to the property.
In 2007, Mike Jones was contracted by PPSOC to conduct a floristic survey of Ogle County natural areas and remnants through a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He assessed Prairie Ridge as the most valuable parcel of natural land representing original presettlement sand ecosystems in Ogle County. He also recommended it be considered as an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory site.
According to PPSOC Board member Bob Piros, Prairie Ridge has a natural areas assessment index that ranked it as extremely rare and of paramount preservation importance. Less than 0.5 percent of land in the Chicago region has a ranking this high. Prairie Ridge is also home to an endangered plant.
Bob and Sonia Vogl, PPSOC board members, spent many hours refining the funding proposal to the ICECF. It was approved this past October.
Keith Blackmore, PPSOC president, is proud of this crown jewel of his tenure: “The Prairie Preservation Society of Ogle County is very grateful to the various groups which have come together to make this remarkable purchase possible, including the Clean Energy Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and Northwest Audubon.”
Warren Miller, the former owner, said: “We were very much aware of the prairie plants on this land when we purchased it in 1985 to add to our tree production acreage. I’m delighted that the Prairie Preservation Society was able to secure the funding to acquire this land.”
For more information, visit ppsoc.org.
From the Dec. 22-28, 2010 issue
Print This Article