The Northwest Illinois chapter works in the Driftless Area of Illinois. The area contains hill prairie, oak woodland, sand prairie, oak savanna, sedge meadow, oak barren, and tallgrass (black soil) prairie. We work to protect, restore and manage these fire-dependent habitats.
NIPE projects are primarily located within Jo Daviess, Carroll, and Stephenson Counties in Illinois. We invite you to join us!
Plants and Seeds
At the end of August, Prairie Diva (Seed Coordinator) Barb Siekowski reported: “Seed picking is going well. As always, picking dates and species availability change yearly. We are low on Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) but overwhelmed by Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium). At Roberts Prairie at Hanley Savanna, the Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) and Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) have flowered in great abundance this year following a fall 2017 burn. At Wapello Reserve, a beautiful grass called Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is especially productive in the areas burned this past spring. Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba) continues to be plagued by weevils that feed on the seeds (as in the photo to the right), though some populations are flowering and producing pods later in the summer. These pods are often free of the insects.”
We still need volunteers for seed picking through mid-October. If you are interested, click here for the schedule and contact Laura Dufford at firstname.lastname@example.org to stay apprised of schedule changes.
Ed Strenski, NIPE Land Manager, and his crew have been busy at NIPE’s prairies as well as assisting others with their prairies. His self-styled NIPE Ninjas are a dedicated team of workers who remove invasive plants, cut down trees, create and maintain fire breaks, and pick seeds, among other tasks. Ed notes, “I was very fortunate to have such a great team this summer. This fall and winter, we’ll be cutting in new fire breaks through the woods to Fox Point at Hanley. We’ll also be removing trees in the West Savanna and North Savanna.”
Gramercy Park In July, NIPE signed a three-year contract with the Gramercy Park Foundation to provide habitat and land restoration services at Gramercy Park in East Dubuque, Illinois. Gramercy Park has historic interest for its American Indian burial mounds that may date to 100 B.C.E. The conical mounds are on the western border of the park, high above the Mississippi River. NIPE is excited to help bring the native prairie back to this special place.
Hanley Savanna Doings
ICECF Grant - NIPE continues to work to maximize the multifaceted Hanley Savanna grant awarded on May 1 by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Thanks to generous donors, NIPE will receive all funding available through the 3:1 contribution match. In addition, volunteers and paid crew are getting used to filling out time sheets, which also provide useful information for planning Hanley’s future.
Gatherings - Hanley Savanna is “the place” to gather right now. NIPE’s June 1 “Chat with Chats” event brought out birders from local Audubon societies. Some participants had not visited for years and were pleasantly surprised by the extent and maturity of the prairies. The Burn Co-op had its annual picnic at Hanley on June 17, and the NIPE/TPE Donor Appreciation event will take place on September 9.
Research - We have learned more about Eric Chien’s planned assessment tool for oak-dominated savanna restorations. As Eric pursues his master’s degree in conservation science, he is trying to ascertain specific conditions that make oak savanna restoration efforts more or less successful. Two areas of current research are 1) identifying other plants whose presence indicates whether a savanna is native; and 2) understanding the restoration and pre-restoration history of each savanna. His database of 60 sites in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois includes Hanley Savanna, which has three oak savannas of interest.
History - In the August 2018 issue of The Prairie Promoter, NIPE’s Rickey Rachuy contributed an informative article on the history of Hanley Savanna. The article has also been posted to the TPE Blog (Click here).
Meet Zoe Pearce
Summer intern and social media guru Zoe Pearce - who also works as a NIPE Ninja – put her photography and writing skills to good use with NIPE posts on Facebook and Instagram. Local newspapers also published her feature article entitled “Boots on the Ground Conservation.” Zoe is a sophomore at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and plans to major in creative writing.