At the Prairie Preservation Society of Ogle County’s annual spring banquet, President Russell Brunner and Board member Bob Piros presented a program about the organization’s recent purchase, Sand Ridge Prairie. Many “oohs” and “aahs” were heard as images of rare and beautiful plants and the rolling landscape flashed on the screen.
The 83-acre parcel, formerly the Sinnissippi Tree Farms’ cut-your-own Christmas tree operation, was purchased in December from Warren Miller with a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
The site has long been recognized as an outstanding example of a rare natural ecosystem. Less than 0.5 percent of land in the Chicago region has a ranking as high. Recently, it was assessed as the most valuable parcel of natural land representing original presettlement sand ecosystems in Ogle County. It will be recommended as an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory site.
Since the land was purchased to preserve its high-quality prairie remnants, tree removal will be necessary. The PPSOC plans to sell selected Christmas trees for this year’s holiday. They plan that sales will begin on Thanksgiving weekend and continue through Dec. 17. Beautiful trees will be offered to the public at reduced prices.
Many of the old pines are too large, so will be cut out. The tasks ahead loom huge, yet PPSOC members are up to the challenge. It may take years, but eventually, this jewel will be preserved in its original condition for future generations to enjoy.
PPSOC will also offer field trips, led by prairie experts, to the site during the growing season. The land is not open to the public, except at specified times, such as for field trips and Christmas tree sales.
From the June 15-21, 2011 issue