About our chapter

Mission and Service Area: The Northwest Illinois chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts (NIPE) is committed
to the protection, restoration, and management of prairies, savannas, and other fire-dependent
ecosystems in the Driftless Area of Illinois. NIPE primarily serves Jo Daviess, Carroll, and Stephenson
counties.

History: Led by Jim Rachuy, NIPE was founded October 5, 1993, and soon had 60 members. The
membership has more than doubled since then, and NIPE remains the sole Illinois chapter of The Prairie
Enthusiasts (TPE). Over the years, NIPE has helped restore and/or manage approximately 1,500 acres.
Some other highlights of NIPE’s history:

  • NIPE has identified about 110 sites (a little less than 35,000 acres) in Jo Daviess and Carroll
    Counties that contain significant natural habitat or prairie remnants, of which 56 have been
    restored and/or are being managed by NIPE.
  • The Seed Shed, where NIPE processes harvested native plant seed for overseedings in
    restorations, began operating in 1993.
  • The Prairie Enthusiasts purchased Elmoville Prairie in 1994 and Hanley Savanna in 2003. (See
    Sites and Projects) and holds easements on Horseshoe Mound and Lonetree Farm.
  • NIPE has partnered with the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF) since 2003 to help
    restore various JDCF properties, including Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve (90 acres), Eagle’s
    Nest (120 acres), Galena Gateway Park (180 acres), Horseshoe Mound (almost 200 acres).
    Oneota (161 acres) and Wapello Land & Water Reserve (75 acres).
  • NIPE’s Species Conservation Project began in 2014 by identifying plants that should be growing
    in our area, obtaining seeds when possible, and growing them in NIPE’s two rare plant gardens.
    NIPE aims to establish three viable protected populations of 797of the 1572 plants that are
    native to Jo Daviess County. By 2021 335 species were growing in three or more protected sites,
    including land owned by TPE, JDCF, the Galena Territory Association, the US Fish & Wildlife
    Service, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As of 2022, 189 species are field
    collected, 117 are under cultivation, and 55 are currently unavailable for restoration, leaving 101
    more species that can be cultivated in the future.

Current Focus: NIPE continues to actively steward the prairies and other ecosystems at Lonetree Farm,
Elmoville Prairie, and Hanley Savanna. The Species Conservation Project also continues. As resources
permit, NIPE works with the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, the Illinois Department of Natural
Resources, and private landowners, providing native seed and program assistance for restoration and
stewardship activities. 

 A privately-owned savanna restoration, assisted by NIPE (photo by Susan Lipnick)

 

Other Activities: NIPE also does the following:

  • Has cooperative work and/or seed exchange programs with organizations such as the Northwest Illinois Stewardship Co-op and the Lake Carroll Prairie Club.
  • Offers education programs; and
  • Pursues grants and other funding to assist with all its activities.

   Chick in nest discovered while seed picking (photo by John Arndt)

 

People

Staff: NIPE currently has a seed coordinator and some staff working on NIPE properties.

Volunteers:  NIPE relies on its wonderful cadre of volunteers to keep its various efforts going.  If you are interested in helping pick prairie seed, assisting in the species conservation program, getting involved in prairie restoration or stewardship, or joining a committee (current committees include Education, Land Management, and Grant Funding), please contact NIPE at [email protected].

 

Sweet clover removed by NIPE staff (photo to the right by Zoe Pearce)

 

 

 


Chapter leadership

President: Laura Dufford, [email protected]
TPE Board Representative: Jay Rutherford, [email protected] 
Secretary: Rickie Rachuy, [email protected]
Treasurer: Jay Rutherford, [email protected] 
Chapter Contact: Susan Lipnick, [email protected]