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

Jim Rachuy retires from NIPE Board of Directors

NIPE’s Board of Directors no longer has Jim Rachuy among its members.  Per NIPE’s term limit requirements, Jim stepped down at the end of December 2021.  Jim was instrumental in starting our still-sole Illinois chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) in 1993 and helped secure TPE ownership of Hanley Savanna and Elmoville Prairie.  He served NIPE in many capacities over more than 30 years as land manager, president, executive director, grant writer, and most recently first vice president.  

A self-taught botanist, Jim used his knowledge and talents to organize yearly seed collecting and prairie restorations on NIPE’s and members’ acreage.  He also conceived and implemented the Species Conservation Project. (See Prairie Promoter, Vol. 29, No. 1.)  When the Savanna Army Depot was decommissioned, his service on the local redevelopment authority helped preserve sensitive prairie remnants.

Although he is now retired from the Board, Jim continues to work in the rare plant gardens and prairie restorations at Lonetree Farm in rural Stockton, Illinois.  He has dedicated 65 private acres of ongoing prairie restorations in a conservation easement at Lonetree.  Thank you, Jim, for your talents, time, and commitment.

Photo of Jim Rachuy taken January 1, 2022, by Rickie Rachuy


Land Management

Employment opportunity with NIPE! (posted Dec. 21, 2021) The Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts (NIPE) is seeking a land manager to lead the stewardship activities of its 154-acre Hanley Savanna outside of Hanover, 3-acre remnant prairie at Elmoville, and the NIPE headquarters (Lonetree) near Stockton, assist in the seed collection program, and fulfill contracts with other non-profit organizations. See the details and how to apply in the job announcement.

Good news came NIPE’s way in November with a grant from the Freeport (IL) Community Foundation’s Luthin Family Endowment Fund.  The grant gives NIPE $4,486 to purchase prescribed burn equipment.

Also in late November, NIPE received the following appreciative email from one of the hunters allowed to help cull the deer herd at Hanley Savanna.  Since hunting weekends take place late fall through part of the winter, he had never seen Hanley Savanna in its full glory until last summer: 

     “I want to let you know that [we] were able to harvest one large doe from Hanley West on Saturday morning. It was a very quiet day without seeing many deer at all. [We were] able to get her passing through the wooded area. We do plan on returning for the later season. Maybe we will have more opportunities with colder weather.
    “I also wanted to tell you that we are both impressed with the transformation of the property since you first allowed us to hunt there. It has truly become a beautiful oak savanna.
     “I was able to visit the property in July, and I was shocked in the beauty of the flowers and all of the different pollinators that are attracted to them.  I usually only see the land in November when things are brown and dry; it was stunning. Congratulations on all your visions to transform Hanley to a place of beauty.”


Seed Coordinator’s Report (Barb Siekowski)

Though 2021's heat and extended drought decreased some species' seed production, we were able to reach most of our harvest goals.  We continue to find new populations of native plants at NIPE and other conservation properties as well as hardy survivors inhabiting roadside fence lines and ditches. 

Our mission to create ecologically sound projects and bring greater diversity to protected sites continues and is expanding.  We are deeply grateful to our hardworking and dedicated volunteers and staff.  THANK YOU for making this possible.

Here is NIPE’s 2021 Seed Report:


-  5 projects totaling 20.6 acres

-  8 custom seed mixes

-  202 + total species (1423 pounds) used in project mixes              


-  Lake Carroll Prairie Club and Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF):  Surplus grass species

-  Northern Illinois Native Seed Network (NINSN):  6 species for December meeting


-  254 + harvest hours

-  34 picking sessions

-  Recruited new volunteers from Galena, Jo Daviess County, and the Quad Cities via NIPE pollinator program, JDCF Facebook Live, Galena Area Land Enthusiasts


-  194 species population counts (overseed, existing, and new populations)

-  104 overseedings of 70 species on 7 sites (NIPE, JDCF, Illinois DNR)


-  280 + (count, collect, overseed, share, purchase) in 2021


Lonetree Goings On (Rickie Rachuy)

Between April and November 2021, NIPE volunteers and staff put in a half-hour shy of 650 hours weeding, planting, and seed picking in the rare plants gardens and doing seed shed work.  Rickie Rachuy reports that things are now quiet at Lonetree. “I am happy to finally have some snow cover - albeit skimpy - in the gardens. I am only propagating two species for spring planting this year, Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia Spiderwort) and Ceanothus ovatus (Prairie Redroot).”  

Photo to the right is of the rare plant gardens at Lonetree Farm taken on January 1, 2022, by Rickie Rachuy


Board of Directors

There have been some recent changes to NIPE’s Board of Directors.  Jim Rachuy’s term on the Board came to end in December.  (See above.)  Long-time Board member John Day also stepped down, as has Becky Janopoulos.  We thank them for their service.

As of January 1, John Arndt joined the Board as 2nd Vice President. Jake Pulfer also came aboard in January.  You may recognize John from his work as a NIPE staff member; as 2nd V.P., he will help guide NIPE’s paid staff.  Jake may also be familiar to some of you as the Program Director for the Northwest Illinois Stewardship Co-op, of which NIPE is a member.  He has also been serving on NIPE’s Land Management committee. Welcome John and Jake!