• Press Release - 01/26/2012 •
New Dokum Mskoda Nature Preserve Builds on Countywide Vision
(Grayslake, IL) A meadow so pristine it suggests an image of Lake County prior to European settlement was recently preserved by a Waukegan condominium association with critical help from the Liberty Prairie Conservancy. This month's purchase of a parcel of land by the Liberty Prairie Conservancy, Lake County's non-profit land conservation group, paved the way for the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to formally dedicate the Fields of Cambridge Condominium Association's adjacent 93-acre Dokum Mskoda Nature Preserve as the newest member of the state's collection of most prized natural areas. The move conveys significant protection benefits to the property.
The land purchased by the Conservancy from Lake Forest Builders, Inc. possessed potential for development of an access road across the proposed nature preserve. This presented a threat to the site's health and stability, and without its preservation by a conservation organization, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission was unwilling to confer its nature preserve status. Finding a group to purchase the land proved problematic until Liberty Prairie Conservancy offered to step in. It secured funding for the purchase, as well as for potential future expansions of the preserve, from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and William Wells, a former county resident.
"Of all the Lake County properties identified as high quality in the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory of 1978, this was the largest one that was still unprotected," says Steve Barg, executive director of Liberty Prairie Conservancy. "We were impressed to find this association committed to the idea of preserving it. That tradition of caring for open space remains wonderfully strong in Lake County residents."
The Liberty Prairie Conservancy and Illinois Nature Preserves Commission are spearheading the site's ecological management and monitoring. Financial support for stewardship comes from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chicago Wilderness, Northeastern Illinois Wetlands Conservation Account and Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
The nature preserve's name, Dokum Mskoda, was proposed by the seven tribal councils of the Potawatomi and means "quiet prairie." The Potawatomis were the last of a succession of indigenous peoples to live in the Chicago region.
The move brings the amount of preserved open space in Lake County to 51,277 acres or 17 percent of the county's total acreage. In 2009, the Liberty Prairie Conservancy led a countywide coalition of 17 organizations in an effort to determine a target goal for the amount of open space to ultimately protect in Lake County. The group, including the Lake County Forest Preserve District and Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, determined that if 20 percent of the county is preserved as open space, its residents will be well-positioned for physical, mental, ecological and economical health well into the future.
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The Liberty Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that helps to preserve and steward natural areas, farmland and other open space throughout Lake County. Established in 1995, the member-supported group works on public, private and nonprofit lands. For information, visit www.libertyprairie.org.
The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation was created to improve energy efficiency, advance the development of renewable energy resources, and protect wildlife habitat and natural areas for the people of Illinois. To date it has awarded 121 grants to help acquire and protect over 20,000 acres of natural habitat in locations throughout the state.