Northwest Illinois

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!

Learn more on our About our chapter and Sites and Projects web pages.

Board representative:  Jay Rutherford
Chapter contact: Susan Lipnick,

Facebook: Chapter page


What's New

­December Note from NIPE’s President: 

What a year! 2020 has brought challenges and transitions for NIPE. COVID-19 changed the way we interacted with our members. Unfortunately, it meant postponing our Hanley Savanna Amenities Grant event and drastically reducing our volunteer opportunities. Personnel changes include our land manager and a Board member. Ed Strenski is retiring after leading our land management activities for over nine years. On January 1, Zoe Pearce takes over as our new land manager. She has been apprenticing under Ed and is already bringing her talents to our organization. Leanne Martin joins our Board of Directors, bringing her ecological expertise; but we will be losing Susan Lipnick, who brought structure and grant know-how. We will miss the ‘old’, but welcome the ‘new’. 

These transitions bring new possibilities for us. NIPE is evaluating our priorities. We will continue to pick seed, although at smaller amounts for the near future. We will still manage our NIPE properties and allow Zoe to create a land management program that honors her time and other pursuits. We may offer more educational events, walks, and talks when the pandemic winds down. There is the possibility to do more work with rare and uncommon native species in our area. We are opening our eyes and minds to new possibilities. I’m curious to see what is in store for us!  -- Laura Dufford, President, NIPE Board of Directors


Land Management:

The NIPE crew was busy this autumn with seed picking, combining, threshing, mixing, and seeding. Prescribed burns resumed after the spring hiatus, with site and equipment preparation and good weather producing a successful burn season. The partnership between NIPE and the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF) resulted in the burning of NIPE’s Eagle Prairie (at Hanley Savanna) and Elmoville Prairie as well as a number of JDCF properties. Here we see NIPE staff member Line Kuzniar using a drip torch at Eagle Prairie in early November.


Seed Coordinator’s Report:    

Barb Siekowski observes that 2020 has been a good year for prairie and savanna species seed collection and use. “More than 250 species were surveyed and documented, plus collected or purchased as well as planted and grown in the Lonetree Farm rare plant gardens for use in seed mixes and overseedings.”

The following data provides more detail about the 2020 project:

-  10 projects (custom seed mixes for each)

-  62 + acres providing seed

-  1700 + pounds of seed harvested

-  147+ species collected

-  20+ species purchased

-  60 -100+ species included in each seed mix

-  85+ overseedings completed this fall as part of the species conservation program.

Preparing seed for overseedings is quite an effort: from harvesting to drying to threshing to mixing. In the following photo taken in September, NIPE staff members Becky Janopoulos, Pam Richards, and Jim Richards worked the thresher in the NIPE seed shed at Lonetree. 

Barb also comments on the team effort that allowed NIPE to meet the many challenges of COVID. “Staff and Board of Directors volunteers worked diligently to meet our collection goals, tend seed in sheds, greenhouse and gardens, prepare mixes, and get seed on the ground. Hats off to a fantastic team!”


Lonetree Goings On:

The seed shed is quieting down, and the rare plant gardens have gone dormant. Looking ahead to next spring, Rickie and Jim Rachuy plan the following additions to the gardens:

From seed:

- Lespedeza leptostachya (already in the east garden, but we want more plants.)

- Schizachyrium scoparium

- Gentiana quinquefolia (third try)

- Clematis pitcherii

From starter plants:

- Carex muskingumensis

- Blephilia hirsuta

- Baptisia bracteata