At the June 2021 meeting of the Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners, a resolution was approved recognizing Somme Prairie Grove as the 27th dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve -- right here in the 14th District!
The Illinois Nature Preserve Commission designated Somme Prairie Grove the highest level of protection for land in Illinois, granted only to natural areas of exceptional ecological quality. The addition of Somme Prairie Grove brings the Forest Preserves’ total Illinois Nature Preserve protected lands to approximately 10,405 acres.
Somme Prairie Grove boasts 85 acres of high-quality mesic savanna and dry-mesic woodland, supporting many conservative native plant species, and savanna and shrubland breeding birds. Visitors can explore the site while traversing a network of narrow, unpaved footpaths that meander through the preserve.
Somme Prairie Grove has benefitted from a vibrant stewardship community—led by the North Branch Restoration Project—since 1980. This land represents one of the oldest and most comprehensive savannas and woodland restorations in the Midwest. The recovery of Somme Prairie Grove is credited to the longstanding participation of this cohort of dedicated and talented community volunteers.
Since 2011, the Forest Preserves has dedicated five new Nature Preserves, additional acreage at one Nature Preserve, and three new Land and Water Reserves. The Forest Preserves’ Next Century Conservation Plan seeks to designate and register 20,000 acres with the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission.