Conserve Lake County recently played an important role in securing a vital one-acre addition to the rare Glen Flora Ravine in Waukegan. The addition will help the Waukegan Park District steward the Glen Flora Ravine at Bowen Park. The Glen Flora Ravine, the second highest quality ravine in Illinois, is an example of the rich ecological treasures Lake County contains as it is home to over 300 native plant species and a host of birds.
The Waukegan Park District can now clear invasive plants from the site that were making their way into the rest of the ravine and park and enhance the ravine's habitat as a more complete system.
Conserve Lake County negotiated the land purchase from a private landowner, working with the Illinois Audubon Society, a statewide conservation group, and the Waukegan Park District. The Waukegan Park District will steward the ravine in partnership with the Waukegan Harbor Citizens' Advisory Group.
“Quiet Prairie” is the meaning of the Potawatomi phrase “Dokum Mskoda” and is an apt description of this rare, undisturbed sedge meadow and prairie in west Waukegan. Conserve Lake County worked with the Fields of Cambridge Condominium Association, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission and others to protect the 93-acre site which has at least 98 native plant species. Conserve Lake County played a key role by securing funding and purchasing an 8-acre parcel that was critical for the dedication of the nature preserve to proceed. The 8 acres will be added to the preserve later this year, expanding it to over 100 acres.
The Fields of Cambridge Condominium Association owns the site and has been committed to the stewardship and protection of this natural treasure. Intrigued by the thought that the sedge meadow was largely unchanged since Native Americans lived in the area, the Association contacted an alliance of seven tribal councils of the Potawatomi who suggested the “Dokum Mskoda” name. The Potawatomis were the last succession of indigenous peoples to live the region.
“This farm has been good to Jamee and I. We have such wonderful memories of our girls growing up here. Whether they were on the back of a horse or out on the prairie, they seem to have spent most of their time outside. Depending on a person’s situation, a conservation easement can be a smart tool to use when managing a real estate portfolio and protecting your family’s land. It’s worked well for us.” - Marshall Field
Retaining both ownership and privacy, the Fields partnered with Conserve Lake County to preserve 96 acres of their Willow Farm in the Liberty Prairie Reserve. 64 acres were preserved through a conservation easement in 2007, and a 32-acre conservation easement was added in 2011. The Fields have also worked closely with Conserve Lake County to restore 31 acres of land to prairie.
“The Getz family is one of a dedicated group of landowners who have understood the niche their property occupied within the larger landscape. They chose preservation over holding the property for investment. That's a family that is leaving a true land legacy." Steve Barg, Executive Director, Conserve Lake County.
Because of our work in the Liberty Prairie Reserve and our relationship with the Getz family, in 2010 Conserve Lake County was able to facilitate the sale of 30 acres of meadow and oak-hickory woodland from the Getz family to the Lake County Forest Preserve District. What makes the preservation of this land especially valuable is its context – it is part of a large complex of preserved open land owned and being restored by a number of families and the Conservancy. This open land in the Liberty Prairie Reserve includes woods, fields, prairies, farmland, wetlands, and oak savannas.
“Mrs. Casey’s farmhouse seemed familiar and comforting. It even smelled like my Grandma’s home. We shared some pie I had baked with apples from Al’s orchard. Two years later she called and asked if the Liberty Prairie Conservancy would be interested in buying her farm. We immediately dove in and raised the money. We worked hard to honor the family’s wishes—they had owned the land since the Civil War. And I knew for a fact there was at least one 14-inch pike cavorting in the stream at the bottom of the hill.” Steve Barg, Executive Director, Conserve Lake County.
When a property meets certain criteria, Conserve Lake County may be interested in purchasing it, as was the case with the 145-year-old Casey Farm in 2007. Its deep history, extraordinary stream and unique location between two trails made it a high priority for protection. Plans call for the trails to be connected in 2013.
“We named it Wadley Wing Haven because of the birds. Cranes, bitterns. Even black terns. The conservation easement protects it while lowering our taxes. When this land passes on to its next owners, they’ll be able to build a small boardwalk but not much else. We thank the Liberty Prairie Conservancy for enabling us to do what we know was best for this land.” Searle Wadley
In 2006, Sue and Searle Wadley retained both ownership and privacy when they preserved 100 acres of oak woodland, prairie and marsh in Antioch through a conservation easement customized to their needs. They receive tax deductions because of the public benefits their land provides. Wildlife habitat, floodplain protection and a scenic view from the road are just a few of the many public benefits of preserved open space.
“We have enjoyed “the Farm” for over 52 years. It has been a wonderful experience and has instilled an appreciation of open space and love of the outdoors that now carries on to the next generation.” - Anonymous
There is a lovely spot in Lake County where a spirited family savors their farm and marsh. Safeguarding that land was more appealing to them than developing it, so in 2007 they placed a conservation easement on the property with Conserve Lake County. Wildlife habitat, water resources, scenic views and air quality all benefit from this civic-minded action. Conserve Lake County will watch over the property and work with future landowners so they understand and abide by the easement’s provisions. Conserve Lake County will also honor the request from this family—and any others—for anonymity.
“Mom and Dad began restoring the natural areas on this property as soon as they acquired it. Dad was a farm boy at heart and never tired of contemplating water quality. Mom was an avid birder and botanist. Burning the prairie became an annual family festival, and we all took part in the war on invasive species the way some families participate in yachting or deep-sea snorkeling.” Marcia Milne
After their parents passed away, Marcia, Flora and Bonnie Milne worked with Conserve Lake County to understand their options for preserving the farm, woods and prairie of their childhood home. In 2005, they ultimately placed a conservation easement on most of the property to prevent development and to protect the stream and rare plants. Knowing Conserve Lake County would safeguard the easement into the future.
“How practically can human communities and individuals fit and live well within nature? We cannot do this alone, even with our loyal, talented, conservationist colleagues. However, …we can work unflaggingly to promote effective cultures of conservation and help to spread their influence to an ever widening circle of communities regional, national, and global. Is there really any other moral and civic alternative?” Strachan Donnelley
Strachan Donnelley grew up in Lake County and eventually founded the esteemed Center for Humans and Nature. He led the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation in protecting three parcels of farmland near his boyhood home. With tailor-made conservation easements, the foundation prohibited development but allowed farming to continue. It then donated the properties to Conserve Lake County.