The 12-year-old Barrington Area Conservation Trust recently completed a 4-acre conservation easement that will protect a rare gravel hill prairie in Barrington Hills from future development.
The gravel hill prairie lies on private property off Ridge Road owned by Marius Bialas and Renata Heiberg.
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"Most gravel hill prairies are located along the Mississippi region of Illinois and it is rare to find a gravel hill prairie in this region," said trust Executive Director Karen Yancey. "This conservation easement is a wonderful gift to the community and will ensure that both the horse trails and the rare native plants are protected through ongoing stewardship efforts."
Though there is no public access to the site, the easement will allow members of the Riding Club of Barrington Hills to continue using the established riding trails forever. And the trust will begin offering hikes on the prairie for its members, Yancey said.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a property owner and a conservation trust that allows the land to remain in private ownership. In return for placing an easement on their property, many landowners are eligible for property, estate and income tax reductions.
In Illinois, most landowners receive a 75 percent reduction in their annual property taxes, Yancey said.
The trust is following up by assisting the owners in removing buckthorn and other nonnative plant species that threaten the prairie's status. It is also pursuing the protection of two additional acres on an adjacent property.
In its dozen years, the Barrington Area Conservation Trust has already completed more than 20 conservation easements protecting nearly 500 acres of private property in the area.
For more information on the trust and its work with conservation easements, visit bactrust.org.