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.

Chapter contact and Board representative: Jim Rachuy,
Facebook: Chapter page



What's New

Land Manager Update:  Ed Strenski reports on a successful prescribed burn season this spring. “The NIPE Team burned over 200 acres at 10 sites this spring and helped the Burn Co-op with other burns.” You can see some of the Burn Co-op crew at Hanley Savanna after one of the three areas burned there.  Co-op members came from NIPE, the Jo Daviess County Conservation Foundation, and the Strike Team.   With the growing season upon us, other work has begun.  Strenski continues, ”A section of old farm fencing was removed at Hanley Savanna. Shovels are sharpened and thistle/parsnip cutting season has begun.”

Plants and Seeds:   NIPE Seed Coordinator Barb Siekowski notes that we are preparing for the seed-picking season. “I'm getting out and about to look at sites.  We're working on designing seed mixes for our 2019 projects.” As always, we will need volunteer prairie seed pickers. You can download this year’s seed-pick schedule here.  Contact Laura Dufford at to be added to the list. The schedule may change depending on weather and seed availability, so be sure to check your email for schedule changes.

Saving Rare Plants: When a NIPE member purchased cedar-dominated property last spring to build a house, evidence of a dry hill prairie on the only suitable building site came as a complete surprise. NIPE is now “rescuing” significant plants there.  Last summer, several cylindrical blazing star plants (Liatris cylindracea) were transplanted successfully from that site to NIPE’s rare plants gardens at Lonetree Farm. Currently, bird’s-foot violet (Viola pedata) and pasqueflower (Anemone patens) are marked for seed collection and transplant to Lonetree. We hope these plants will take root in their new home.

Muralt Bluff Prairie Visit – A favorite pastime of Prairie Enthusiasts is visiting prairies! On May 15, a group from NIPE took a road trip to the Albany, Wisconsin area to tour the Muralt Bluff Prairie. Highlights of our tour included seeing large populations of early-blooming forbs including prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), kittentails (Besseya bullii), and wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis). This Wisconsin State Natural Area is owned by TPE and managed by TPE’s Prairie Bluff chapter. We also toured Iltis Savanna, the adjacent property that consists of restored savanna, prairie plantings and unmanaged woodland. Many thanks to site stewards Tom Mitchell and John Ochsner for giving us the tour.

Annual Fundraising Appeal:  NIPE mailed its annual appeal for contributions in early May. We are still accepting your donations and greatly appreciate your generosity. Over the past several years, NIPE has been able to greatly expand the science behind what we do and to work more efficiently. It is through the combination of our dedicated cadre of volunteers, staff, and hired experts that we are able to accomplish everything. Your financial support makes this all possible.

Hanley News

New ICECF Public Amenities & Events Grant:  We are pleased to announce we have received a Public Amenities and Events grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) for use at Hanley Savanna. This 18-month grant started on March 7, 2019. We plan to use the funds to install a trail map and interpretive signage at the Hanley shelter and to purchase and install two or three benches along the trails at Hanley. 

ICECF Stewardship Challenge Grant:   Our other ICECF grant comes to a close this autumn. If NIPE accumulates 200 more volunteer stewardship hours – including seed picking (see above) - at Hanley Savanna by October 1, we will receive $6,000 from ICECF. So look for NIPE emails and come on out to help us manage this beautiful natural area.

Come Tour Hanley Savanna!  On June 9 from 2 – 4 p.m., NIPE will be hosting an afternoon of birding and botanizing at Hanley Savanna. We will have experts on hand to answer your questions about plants and birds, critters, and insects.  See how we are managing the various habitats at Hanley.  Find out about our new CritterCam’s discoveries.   We will provide a wagon ride, and light refreshments will be available in the shelter. In case of inclement weather, the tour will be rescheduled to a later date. Check our Facebook page that morning if we need to reschedule.