By Sonia Vogl
OREGON, Ill. — What does PPSOC mean? It’s a question we’re often asked. It’s an acronym for the Prairie Preservation Society of Ogle County — a long name to handle. PPSOC is so much shorter and simpler to remember. We hope people will come to recognize it.
PPSOC was founded as a nonprofit bicentennial organization back in the 1970s. Its original goal was to purchase an 11-acre prairie remnant that had never been plowed. After the organization’s founder was gone, the small parcel of land was officially named the Doug Wade Prairie in his honor.
“You never know” was one of Wade’s responses when asked why he was doing something that seemed totally ridiculous, such as building exclosures to keep cows out of an especially high-quality part of a prairie remnant during 95-degree Illinois heat when everything on the other side of the fence looked much more succulent than on their side.
The tiny pieces of remnant prairie, lovingly protected, caught the attention of Chicago-area botanists and ornithologists. They recognized it as a prime example of prairie, native to Illinois, which, when white settlers first arrived, covered more than three-fourths of the state.
The Nature Conservancy was informed of the find. They recognized that the adjacent area had large parcels of prairie, which, although not as high quality, could be preserved with the tiny jewels and form a large, sweeping vista to catch people’s attention and imaginations. From a small beginning, the land became the internationally known Nachusa Grasslands.
The original purpose of PPSOC was to preserve prairies in Ogle County. Since then, it has matured into a multi-action group that preserves natural lands and species, provides free consulting services, presents interesting free public programs, and sells cut-it-yourself Christmas trees.
Tree sales are probably its most well-known function. Cheerful families come from as far as Chicago to rekindle family traditions of finding the perfect tree, cutting it and taking it home. Many of them thanked volunteers for re-opening the former Sinnissippi Tree Farm, closed for several years before it was sold to PPSOC.
Money from the sales goes directly to pay down the loan for the purchase of the 82-acre site dotted with high-quality prairie remnants.
PPSOC members are delighted to be able to connect with so many people and to preserve and restore the native environment.
Hikes are led through the land. More activities, including an historic re-enactment of early life in Illinois, are planned.
We know what PPSOC means. Who would have guessed what we would become? “You never know!”
Posted Dec. 18, 2013