Nachusa Grasslands

A Story of Transformation

Vast grasslands once swept across Illinois, providing homes for bison, badgers and birds alike. © Robert Shaw

But, over the centuries, the prairies were developed into farmland, replacing these grasslands with corn and soybean fields and grazing land. © TNC Archives

Fortunately, parcels of the land that is now Nachusa Grasslands was too rocky and wet to be farmed, and it was spared from the plow. © Chris Helzer/TNC

Prairie enthusiasts saw great potential in the land, and in 1986, The Nature Conservancy purchased the first parcel of the preserve. © Chris Helzer/TNC

Restoration efforts naturally move at a slow and steady pace. As Nachusa’s Preserve Manager Bill Kleiman says, “The landscape at Nachusa that inspires us today was more one of vision and hope--some said naiveté.” © TNC Archives

So, what has happened in 25 years? © Ami Vitale

Thanks to 200,000 hours of volunteer work and consistent, generous donations, Nachusa is one of Illinois’ largest and last surviving prairie landscapes. © TNC Archives

Implementing prescribed fire, weed eradication, seed harvesting, planting and replanting native species has enabled the native prairie to return. © Andrew Simpson/TNC

Now in its 25th year, Nachusa extends nearly 3,000 acres and is home to 700 native plant species and 180 species of birds. © Ami Vitale

It is home to rare animals such as Blanding’s turtles… © Michelle Kalantari/TNC

…bobolinks and Henslow’s sparrows… © Ernie Mastroianni

…and Illinois’ largest population of federally-threatened prairie bush clover. © TNC Archives

Come see for yourself the amazing transformation that is now the Nachusa Grasslands Preserve! © Ron Cress


   Please leave this field empty
x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Learn about the places you love. Find out
how you can help.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

I'm already on the list!

Read our privacy policy.