The Illinois Chapter Celebrates 60!

60 Years of Conservation Milestones

Since our chapter was founded in 1957, we've worked hard to protect nature and preserve life in the Prairie State. And, thanks to your generous donations and support, this year we are celebrating the results of those efforts. From protecting, preserving, and restoring 86,000 acres here in Illinois to scaling up our conservation work to impact projects across the country and even the globe, it's all possible because of you. Take a look at the conservation milestones we're celebrating this year.

First Land Acquisition

1958: The Nature Conservancy in Illinois made its first land acquisition with the purchase of Volo Bog in Lake County. The site is now a designated National Natural Landmark.

Protecting Habitat for Wildlife

1965: The Conservancy helped acquire lands in Jasper County. Today, the area is owned and managed primarily by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and supports Illinois’ only surviving population of greater prairie chickens.

Conserving Large-Scale Projects

1975: One of the Conservancy’s first large-scale projects in North America was the Cache River Wetlands. The United Nations later named this area one of the only 15 “Wetlands of International Importance.”

Volunteer Stewardship Network Founded

1983: The Volunteer Stewardship Network was introduced to help foster a sense of community concern for the preservation of Illinois’ lands and waters. Today the Volunteer Stewardship Network supports more than 110 volunteer organizations/groups collectively managing more than 450 natural areas across the state.

Chicago Natural Areas Protected

1996: Chicago Wilderness, a coalition of public and private landowners, is launched to address conservation concerns in an urban landscape.  Since its founding the coalition has included over 190 agencies dedicated to the preservation of healthy lands and waters from northeastern Illinois and into southwestern Wisconsin through northwestern Indiana.

Expanding Into New Habitats

2001: Work begins in the Kankakee Sands area, which harbors some of the finest savannas remaining in the United States.

Advancements in the Battle Against Invasive Species

2011:  Environmental Deoxyribonucleic Acid (eDNA) Analysis and Refinement is developed and introduced as a tool to detect DNA of aquatic invasive species which has become a growing concern in the Great Lakes. These cells are far more common and easier to collect than a live fish that will actively avoid capture.

Bison Come Home

2014: Bison are reintroduced at Nachusa Grasslands, marking an important next step in the restoration of this iconic prairie.

Emiquon Reconnected to the Illinois River

2016:  Emiquon, the Conservancy’s floodplain restoration near Havana, is reconnected to the Illinois River for the health of the preserve and the fish, plant, and wildlife communities that rely on it for survival. The gate that connects the floodplain to the river is named  “Ahsapa.” This word means “web” in Myaamia, the language used by Native Americans who were the land’s early inhabitants, and it reflects how everything in nature is connected.

Celebrating Successes

2018: The Illinois Chapter celebrates 60 years! As we move forward in our work, we will continue to partner with donors, members, volunteers, and other organizations to ensure that people and nature thrive, even as we face some of our most daunting environmental challenges. Support the next 60 years of conservation work by donating here.


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