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

Save The Date and RSVP:  On Saturday June 25, rain or shine, NIPE will offer an easy walking tour of its rare native prairie plant gardens in rural Stockton, Illinois, about a mile southeast of downtown Stockton.  Participants will learn why these gardens were created, which plants are currently in propagation, and how these plants assist NIPE’s efforts to restore native prairies in Jo Daviess County.  Two separate tours are scheduled for 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and are limited to 10 participants each.  Participants should dress for the weather and bring bug spray and drinking water.  Each tour will last 45 minutes to an hour.

To make a reservation, please leave a message on NIPE’s email address: [email protected] or leave a voice mail message with Susan Lipnick at 815-908-0483.  Please give your name, preferred tour time (9 a.m. or 10:30 a.m.), and the best way to contact you.  Your reservation is not complete until you have received a reply and the address of the gardens.  Please allow a few days for a reply.

Looking ahead, NIPE will host the annual TPE picnic on July 17.  On August 6, 2022, from 9 a.m. to about 12 noon, NIPE will host a Bumblebee Blitz at its Hanley Savanna in rural Hanover.  Check back in mid-June or so for more information about these events.

Out on the Prairie

NIPE needs YOU!  NIPE is transitioning away from having a paid Land Manager with staff working on private properties to a primarily volunteer corps getting our work done at Hanley Savanna and Elmoville Prairie.  We are always looking for people with interest in or knowledge of invasive species and other troublesome weeds.  We also would love to have people with chainsaw and equipment maintenance experience and willingness to haul and cut brush.  Some part-time paid help is also needed during the growing season.  If you would like to be involved with our group as either a volunteer or temporary paid staff, please contact Laura Dufford at:  [email protected].

Burn equipment:  NIPE has taken full advantage of the Freeport (IL) Community Foundation’s Luthin Family Endowment Fund.  With the almost $4500 in grant funds, NIPE purchased prescribed burn equipment, including jumpsuits, sprayers, and rakes.  We put them to good use at the burn of Hanley Savanna’s Bumblebee Prairie in late March.

Seed Coordinator’s Report

[From Barb Siekowski] Preparations for seed collection are concluding as species lists, field work spreadsheets, and supplies are readied for the upcoming season.  Site visits start in March or April and seed harvests begin in May.  

Our primary project in 2022 is an 18.6-acre restoration at Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve, a Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation property located just south of Galena.  The site will be seeded with four distinct mixes: dry-mesic prairie, wet-mesic prairie, wet prairie, and dry-mesic savanna.  In our ongoing efforts to promote diversity, we continue to expand the number of species in our mixes.  Thus, this area of Casper Bluff will be planted with 200+ species.  We also hope to conduct very targeted over-seedings of an additional two dozen rarer species

Burn Equipment; photo by Marilyn Anderson


Bumblebee Prairie burn; photo by Pam Richards

Lonetree Goings On

Rickie Rachuy reports that the variable March weather precluded any working in the rare plant gardens.  When the weather cooperates reliably, garden clean-up will commence.  In the meantime, she has two species stratifying in damp sand in the refrigerator (Narrow-leaved New Jersey Tea of Prairie Redroot (Ceanothus ovatus; photo to the right) and Virginia Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana; photo below)). They will be the only new additions to the east garden this year.

Rickie explains part of her process for encouraging the growth of these plants from seed: “I use damp sand when the seed is very small and a damp coffee filter when it is large enough so I can see and place one seed per pot later on. The sand-stratified seed gets measured out with a teaspoon.”

If these seeds successfully germinate, the young plants will go under grow lights April 1 for planting out at the end of May.   



Who’s Who on the Board of Directors

NIPE welcomes Vicky Wegner, Nancy McMenamin, and Paul McMenamin, who joined NIPE’s Board pf Directors in March.  NIPE now has 11 Board members, with a wealth of experience and interests.  Here is the current Board membership:

Laura Dufford  (President) Nancy McMenamin
John Arndt  (2nd Vice President) Paul McMenamin
Rickie Rachuy  (Secretary) Jake Pulfer
Jay Rutherford  (Treasurer) Barb Siekowski
Marilyn Anderson Vicky Wegner
Leanne Martin  

The staggered starts of the various members allow NIPE to more easily weather changes that occur when a Board member steps down either at the end of a term or for other reasons.  Board members are required to retire from the Board for at least one year after reaching the end of two consecutive three-year terms.