To plan and implement land management activities on District sites in the most efficient, skillful, and professional manner possible to achieve the goals of Natural Ecosystem Management Plans.
Region North – Lost Valley Visitor Center, Glacial park
7210 Keystone Rd
Region South – NRM Shop
14308 Hemmingsen Road
Huntley, IL 60142
The Natural Resources Department of the Land Preservation and Natural Resources Division implements ecological management and restoration activities on District sites throughout the county. The Natural Resources Department is responsible for the direct implementation of all ecological management and restoration activities carried out on District sites. While these activities can be varied in nature, all sites generally undergo a number of common activities. These include:
- Planning and conducting prescription burning on sites requiring such activities for ecological reasons.
- Removal of invasive brush and trees from areas where they have become established through lack of management in the past.
- Removal of artificial subsurface and surface drainage modifications to restore original site hydrology when such actions do not impact adjoining landowners.
- Control of invasive and noxious weed species such as thistles, reed canary grass, and purple loosestrife.
- Bank stabilization, stream re-meandering and other aspects of riparian restoration.
- Regulation of game fish and animal harvest through the District’s recreational fishing and hunting program.
Land Management Activities
Ecological restoration and management activities conducted on District sites are the result of decades of practical experience and detailed research on the healthy function, structure, and composition of natural communities. NRM staff reviews new information regarding land management techniques as it becomes available in scientific journals, at conferences and seminars, and through personal and professional networking with other natural resource professionals. Most land management activities on District sites may be classified in three major categories.
Functional – These activities involve the recreation of original ecological processes or functions that have exerted evolutionary influences on Midwestern and specifically northeastern Illinois natural communities for thousands and in some cases millions of years. Many of these functional processes have been curtailed due to land use changes over the past 175 years. Two major examples are the influence of periodic landscape scale fire and wetland hydrology.
In place of free ranging landscape scale fire, NRM staff now utilizes carefully set and controlled prescribed fires to stimulate native plant growth and reproduction, return nutrients to the soil, and control invasive woody plant growth. The removal of subsurface drain tile systems, when such removal does not impact adjoining properties, allows the restoration of original hydrologic patterns.
Structural – These activities involve the recreation of original natural community structure based on studies of extant natural communities and written and visual records. Examples of structural restoration activities include the removal of invasive brush and trees in open grown oak woodlands and savannas, the selective use of grazing to recreate uneven grassland heights for nesting birds, and the grading of modified stream channels to allow the re-creation of an adjoining floodplain with its attendant flood control benefits.
Compositional – These activities are most often associated with ecological restoration, although in actual practice they may be among the last stages of a management project. The reintroduction of native plants and animals to recreate a more natural floral or faunal composition in a recovering or restored natural community is dependent on initially restoring natural function and structure.
A typical example of this type of work includes the replanting of former agricultural land to native prairie, wetland, or woodland using species known to have been commonly associated with those communities through research and field sampling of remaining high quality natural areas. Although less common on District holdings, reintroduction of animal species once known to be part of McHenry County ecosystems prior to massive land use changes, has occurred several times since the late 1980’s. Wild turkey, spike mussel, orange-throated darter, and plains garter snake are examples of successful reintroductions.
All natural resource management activities are guided by written natural ecosystem management plans, approved by the Board of Trustees, and updated annually by the Natural Resource Management Department. Sites containing Illinois Nature Preserves also require such schedules by state statute.
Nature Preserves within the boundaries of District Sites –
1. Elizabeth Lake
2. Spring Grove Fen
3. Glacial Park Nature Preserve
4. Goose Lake Land & Water Reserve
5. Barber Fen Nature Preserve
6. Lind Forest Nature Preserve
7. Bystricky Prairie Nature Preserve
8. Weingart Road Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve
9. Boger Bog Nature Preserve
10. Cotton Creek Marsh Nature Preserve
11. Oakwood Hills Fen Nature Preserve (management agreement only)
12. Lyons Prairie & Marsh Nature Preserve
13. Detrana Fen Nature Preserve
14. Fel-Pro Triple R Fen Nature Preserve
15. Spring Hill Farm Fen Nature Preserve (management agreement only)
16. Exner Marsh Nature Preserve