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, 815-908-0483[email protected]

Facebook: Chapter page

What's New

Upcoming Events

Bumblebee BlitzOn Saturday, August 6, 2022, from 9 a.m. to about 12 noon, NIPE will host a Bumblebee Blitz at Hanley Savanna in rural Hanover, Illinois.  Pam Johnson will give a presentation on bumblebees and explain how to identify them.  Then participants will go in search of bumblebees to find and identify in preselected areas of Hanley Savanna's prairies where bumblebees are likely to be found that day.  Maybe we will find the endangered rusty patched bumblebee.

The event will begin in the Hanley Savanna shelter, located at 9417 S. Whitton Road, Hanover, Illinois, 61041, just southeast of S. Whitton Road's intersection with S. Hanover Road.  There is ample parking.  Please dress for the weather and bring your own bug spray and drinking water.  

In case of inclement weather, the rain date will be Saturday, August 20 from 9 a.m. to about 12 noon.  Check NIPE's Facebook page to make sure the event will go on as scheduled.  RSVPs are not required. 

Jim Rachuy named Prairie Enthusiasts of the Year

In late April, Jim received notification of this honor from then-TPE President Scott Fulton, with the following message: 

Hi Jim, I am very pleased to let you know that The Prairie Enthusiasts Board of Directors has selected you as the recipient of the 2022 Prairie Enthusiast of the Year award. In my opinion this is a very long overdue honor, given your involvement with TPE from its very beginnings and your incredible and highly innovative work over many years on conservation. On behalf of all of us in the organization, I would like to extend our sincerest congratulations!

On July 17, about 70 people watched as Scott presented the commemorating plaque to Jim at The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) Annual Picnic, hosted by NIPE at Hanley Savanna. Here we see Jim holding the plaque, with Scott standing behind him.  Jim has worked tirelessly over the past 40 or so years to help found both TPE and NIPE and to contribute to their expertise and growth.  Congratulations, Jim!

(photo by Marilyn Anderson)

Out on the Prairie

NIPE staff member Jeni Pearce has agreed to steward Hanley Savanna this summer, especially scoping out weeds such as parsnip, mullein, burdock, and sweet clover. Thank you, Jeni! Looking ahead, NIPE is looking into managing woody vegetation in late fall/winter. 

Currently, volunteers are needed to help pick prairie seed.  If you are not on the seed pick volunteer list (or want to be removed from that list), please contact Laura Dufford at [email protected].

Seed Coordinator’s Report

[From Barb Siekowski] Almost 40 species have been collected to date from the field and the Lonetree rare plant gardens.  The season ahead looks promising for good seed harvests due to decent rains so far.  Early July's collection of Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)  brought in robust seedheads compared to last year's small and shriveled yield.  The benefits of adequate moisture are especially apparent for wetland species; there is a notable difference compared to last year's drought-stressed plants, with greater bloom and seed production.  

Lonetree Goings On

Rickie Rachuy reports that seed picking has commenced in both rare native plant gardens. To date we have picked Aquilegia canadensis, Dichanthelium scribnerianum and Sisyrinchium campestre from the west garden and Camassia scilloides, Carex sprengelii, Heuchera richardsonii, and Sisyrinchium albidum from the east garden.

Twenty pots of Ceanothus ovatus and 20 pots of Tradescantia virginiana were planted into the east garden on June 6.   In time, they should look like this:


Earlier in the growing season, Rickie was able to start one plant from the Rosa carolina seed after a long, complicated propagation procedure. This started was added to the existing rose plants (which came bare root from the wild) in the west garden.  She also managed to keep the only Clematis occidentalis plant produced from seed (started Feb. 1, 2020) alive over the winter and has planted it into the east garden.  Two plants of Clematis pitcheri (started from cuttings April 2021) went dormant over the winter and do not show signs of growth to date. 

Karen Reed continues to be an excellent addition to the NIPE team, helping keep the weeds under control in both gardens, among other tasks.  Thank you, Karen!

Rare Native Plants Garden Tour

On Saturday, June 25, participants braved the weather for both tours of NIPE’s Rare Native Prairie Plants gardens at Lonetree Farm.  Each tour began in the shelter of a covered porch until thunderstorms and heavy rain passed through.  Jim Rachuy, Rickie Rachuy, and Barb Siekowski educated everyone on the history of the gardens, the research behind the plants, efforts to propagate the plants and collect seed, and the ongoing goal to plant sustainable populations of the plants in protected areas in Jo Daviess County.  When the storms ended, everyone toured both gardens.

Identifying plants in the east garden.  (photo by Vicky Wegner)