Somme Prairie Grove recognized as Illinois Nature Preserve

The Forest Preserves of Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution this week recognizing Somme Prairie Grove as the 27th dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve managed by the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Somme Prairie Grove near Northbrook offers 85 acres of high-quality mesic savanna and dry-mesic woodland. The site supports many conservative native plant species, and savanna and shrub land breeding birds. Visitors can explore the site while traversing a network of narrow, unpaved footpaths that meander through the preserve.

Somme Prairie Grove has benefitted from a vibrant stewardship community - led by the North Branch Restoration Project - since 1980 and represents one of the oldest and most comprehensive savanna and woodland restorations in the Midwest. The recovery of Somme Prairie Grove is credited to the long-standing participation of this cohort of dedicated and talented community volunteers.

Dedication of a site as an Illinois Nature Preserve by the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission provides the highest level of protection for land in Illinois and is granted to natural areas of exceptional ecological quality. The Forest Preserves manages 27 dedicated nature preserves - the most of any entity in Illinois except for the state itself - as well as five Land and Water Reserves. The addition of Somme Prairie Grove brings the Forest Preserves' total Illinois Nature Preserve protected lands to approximately 10,405 acres.

Since 2011, the Forest Preserves has dedicated five new Nature Preserves, additional acreage at one Nature Preserve, and three new Land and Water Reserves - meaning 18 percent of the Forest Preserves' dedicated Nature Preserves and 23 percent of Nature Preserve acreage has been done in last 10 years. The Forest Preserves' Next Century Conservation Plan seeks to designate and register 20,000 acres with the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission.

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