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:  Jim Rachuy
Chapter contact: Susan Lipnick, 815-776-0223 (no texts),

Facebook: Chapter page


What's New

­A Note from NIPE’s President:   NIPE, like many organizations, has had to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing restrictions. You will note that unlike in past years, this June update of the NIPE webpage does not include a schedule of Seed Pick dates for volunteer help during summer and fall.  We are still considering our options and will let you know when something becomes finalized.

In the meantime, please stay healthy. We encourage you to visit Hanley Savanna and other natural spaces responsibly and as permitted. Getting outside and observing flora and fauna is a wonderful antidote to feeling cooped up and stressed out.  – Laura Dufford, President, NIPE Board of Directors

Land Management:

The spring season posed a number of challenges, including cancelling the usual spring burns.  We continue to determine what we can do and how according to the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.   We hope that we can all get back to our usual work soon and safely. 

Seed Coordinator’s Report:

As soon as the weather and seeds cooperated in May, Seed Coordinator Barb Siekowski began site visits to see how early blooming species are faring, such as pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta). June seed harvests usually include wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis) - a bumblebee favorite; prairie blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre); and wild geranium (Geranium maculatum). Barb notes that it will be interesting to observe how the lack of planned spring burns affects the bloom and seed cycle at some locations.

Lonetree Goings On:  

Fifteen rare plants were started earlier this year under grow lights for intended transplanting into the rare plant gardens at Lonetree Farm.  At the end of May, eleven pots of Hill’s thistle (Circium hillii) and nineteen prairie turnip (Pediomelum esculentum) plants were ready for transplantation. Rickie Rachuy reports: “The thistle seed was a gift from Tom Mitchell of the Prairie Bluff chapter, and the turnip seed came from Prairie Moon Nursery. The turnip plant has a starchy, tuberous, edible root that was harvested by the Plains Indians as well as European settlers.” 

Successful germination sometimes requires imaginative emulation of the seed’s natural requirements. “I am especially proud of the turnips,” Rickie continues.  “I got a 100% germination rate from the seeds, which are tiny little beans and have a very hard seed coat. I placed them in the freezer overnight and then poured boiling water (ouch!) over them.”

Rickie also commented on a plant that was successfully started last year.  “The wood lilies (Lily philadelphicum) are making a strong showing in their second year—the seed came from Kathie Brock at TPE. Still, it will be another two to three years before we can expect to see flowers.” 


Hanley Savanna Doings:

Pollinator Program cancelled:  The “Native Plants Need Native Pollinators” program originally scheduled for Sunday, June 28, has been cancelled. Given concerns over continuing COVID-19 infections into the summer, NIPE does not want to risk of spreading this virus further. We hope to reschedule this or a similar program next spring or summer. 

ICECF Public Amenities and Events Grant:  Thanks to this grant, visitors to Hanley are enjoying the trio of benches now in place along the trails at Hanley. This grant also funded a series of nine interpretive signs and a trail map of Hanley Savanna. The signage is now installed and can be perused in the shelter at Hanley Savanna in rural Hanover, Illinois. Many thanks to Signcraft Screenprint, Inc. in Galena, Illinois for help with sign design and for manufacturing the signs and map.

Here you can see the “Hanley Savanna Timeline” sign in production at Signcraft and then installed in the Hanley Savanna shelter.

Photo courtesy of Signcraft Screenprint, Inc.


Board of Directors Opportunities: 

Anticipating his retirement as NIPE’s Land Manager at the end of this year, Ed Strenski has relinquished his position on the NIPE Board of Directors.  Paul Rode’s terms have expired, requiring him to take at least a one-year hiatus before considering re-election to the Board of Directors.  Thank you, Ed and Paul, for your years of dedicated service to NIPE!  If you are interested in helping direct this wonderful organization, please contact Laura Dufford at or (815) 541-8958.