Tucked away in the in the extreme northeastern part of McHenry County lies 521 acres of preserved open space known as North Branch Conservation Area. Due to its biologically rich ecosystems, like the 125-acre wetland complex, 282-acre Genoa City Wetlands and Barrens, a Bur oak dominated savanna, and a 1.5 mile section of the North Branch of Nippersink Creek, the site is teeming with wildlife.
The lowland graminoid fen, sedge meadow and marsh communities provide a haven for over 80 different species of grassland songbirds, ducks, hawks and shorebirds, including the state endangered yellow headed blackbird and black tern. Twenty-one species of butterflies also flutter in the woodlands, meadows and savanna amongst an abundance of wildflowers.
Due to its clear, spring fed water and continuous sand and gravel bottom, Nippersink Creek supports more mussel species than any other Northeastern Illinois creek, including 11 state endangered or threatened species. In addition, 30 different native fish species swim in its clear waters including eight pollution intolerant species like the state endangered pugnose shiner and blacknose shiner.
These existing wetland and marsh areas also provide habitat for chorus frogs, leopard frogs, salamanders, Blanding’s turtles and northern water snakes.