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

 March Note from NIPE’s President: 

I’m just coming off the very well done TPE conference. I was originally wary that a conference could actually be done virtually. I was proven wrong! There were so many aspects that made it a successful event: art show, chat rooms, poster sessions, and a very diverse and interesting array of speakers and topics. The keynote speakers were exceptional. I was unable to attend many of the sessions “live,” so I really appreciate the ability to watch the ones I missed and re-watch some of the sessions I was able to attend as time allows. 

One of my big takeaways from the conference is the reminder that prairies and associated ecosystems are not just about plants. There are many components that make up the prairie: among them the soils, the plants, and all the critters we see and don’t see moving about the land. As we work in or visit these areas, we should remember to look for and think about all the parts of the system. Robin Wall Kimmerer remarks in her book Braiding Sweetgrass: “Species composition may change, but relationship endures. It is the most authentic facet of the restoration. Here is where our most challenging and most rewarding work lies. In restoring a relationship of respect, responsibility, and reciprocity. And love.” When we are in the prairie this season, let’s continue to look and appreciate these relationships. -- Laura Dufford, President, NIPE Board of Directors [email protected]

Save the Date!!:

NIPE again plans to hold the “Native Plants Need Native Pollinators” event at Hanley Savanna shelter as a fitting end to National Pollinator Week 2021 (June 21-27). We had to postpone this event last summer because of COVID. Fortunately, Bev Paulson has again agreed to be the presenter on Sunday, June 27 in the afternoon. She will help us explore the important relationships between native plants and native pollinators. In addition to the presentation, event participants can peruse interpretive signage and a trail map of Hanley Savanna in the shelter. Participants also can tour the various prairies and savannas, weather permitting. NIPE will comply with relevant guidance from the State of Illinois regarding the hosting of outdoor events during the pandemic. More information about attendance protocol and signing up (if necessary) will be forthcoming here and on NIPE’s Facebook page.

Land Manager's report:

Land Manage Zoe Pearce reports that NIPE’s Hanley Savanna received attention in winter and early spring, with a specific goal of clearing invasive honeysuckle out of The Pines area to keep the yellow-breasted chats happy in their habitat. Chainsaw work there has to be complete before the birds migrate back in spring. The crew has also been working on cutting brush and woody invasive plants at the Richardson Addition to JDCF’s Horseshoe Mound, clearing a new area for seeding this fall. The bitter cold temperatures in February made it difficult to get out as much as planned, but work progresses whenever the weather and temperatures permit.   Here we see NIPE’s Line Kuzniar trying to start a brush pile fire in the winter snow.

Seed Coordinator’s Report:    

Barb Siekowski gives us this overview of her work during the winter and spring:

    “The winter months are a time for recording all field work completed in 2020 into our chapter's extensive data files. This includes documenting yearly seed collection information - from harvest dates to seed shed inventories to how many ounces of each species have gone into specific project mixes. We also trace species counts, overseedings, and new species identification. I update our large and comprehensive list of sites - multiple locations where myriad species are found in our area.

     “In late winter and early spring, we plan for 2021: restorations and Species Conservation Project (SCP) work. There is always more to learn, from reviewing research to checking species growth patterns and habitat preferences. I have been working with restoration ecologist and NIPE Board member Leanne Martin on this year's prairie and savanna projects, compiling site specifications and species lists. Where might we collect seed? How will fall and spring burns impact seed availability? SCP work will continue to track the success of plantings plus increase the seeding of rarer species at protected sites such as Hanley Savanna, Wapello, and Casper Bluff.

     “With the arrival of warmer weather, the cycle begins again, and we're back in the field, eager to explore. The first insects stir, and bumblebees throng the blossoms of early species like Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis). Prairies and savannas turn green with crowns of colored blooms. As flowerheads ripen, the first seed harvests begin in May, then increase throughout the summer.”


Lonetree Goings On: 

Rickie Rachuy provides this update on seeds that have been waiting in the refrigerator for propagation later this spring, after stratification in damp sand. Species starting under grow lights this year include:  

- Prairie Bush Clover (Lespedeza leptostachya)—to add more to what is already in the garden;

- Bluebill (Clematis pitcheri)—a rare clematis that was found in a nearby sand prairie (pictured right);

- Upland Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)—the seed came from one plant that was successfully transplanted two years ago into the rare species garden from a remnant dry hill prairie near Galena;

- Stiff Gentian (Gentiana quinquefolia)—Third try. It is hard to tell the seedlings from weeds; last year Rickie raised a magnificent purple loosestrife plant.

 In addition, Jim Rachuy anticipates delivery of three plant species from Prairie Moon Nursery in May:

- Muskingum sedge  (Carex muskingumensis);

- Hairy wood-mint (Blephilia hirsuta); and

- Cream wild Indigo (Baptisia bracteata; pictured right)