A nature area in Bull Valley is now under the stewardship of a new organization.
The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, a nonprofit which preserves and restores land throughout the county, became the new owner of the Boloria Fen and Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve in October. The property – which includes fen, sedge meadow and wet prairie as well as numerous large, pre-settlement oak and hickory trees – is located within the McAndrews Glen subdivision.
“This is the second nature preserve in our care, and we hope to see more visitors to this beautiful site,” TLC Executive Director Lisa Haderlein said. “It has a nice trail and a lot of natural beauty to offer as well as a kiosk with interpretive information and geological history.”
The Boone Creek Watershed Alliance had taken care of the property since 2003, when the organization purchased the land with a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The nonprofit has since worked to restore the 36-acre wetland and savannah to its natural state; the property was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve in 2005, ensuring the highest level of legal protection for any lands within Illinois.
“The Boone Creek Watershed Alliance felt that we would be able to care for the land and allow it to be taken care of forever. … Our mission statement is to care for the land today and forever,” Haderlein said.
TLC also owns and manages the 70-acre Yonder Prairie in Woodstock.
BCWA board member Dennis Dreher said in a released statement, “The board decided it was time to look to the future care and use of the site. And there’s no better organization to provide for the professional land stewardship, and increase the visibility and enjoyment of the site, than TLC.”
BCWA had been committed to restoring the preserve. In 2003 volunteers worked to clear invasive non-native brush and trees, allowing the group to reach the wetlands, prairie, savanna and woods in an effort to restore native wildflowers and grasses. Prescribed burns have been used to control weeds and hydrological restoration has been implemented to free the land from artificial farm ditches. Today, turkey, deer, the rare Baltimore checkerspot butterfly, birds and numerous wild animals and insects thrive amidst the nearly 300 species of native plants that have been recorded by site stewards; the land now is watered by natural mineral-rich water.
“This is a good fit for us,” Haderlein said. “It is very flattering for the organization that [BCWA] entrusted Boloria Fen to us. I have every confidence that we will live up their expectations.”
The site, which includes an approximately 1-mile walking trail, is located within the McAndrews Glen subdivision, behind several single-family homes. TLC will use the $2,700 provided yearly by the 27 homeowners in the subdivision to pay for contracted services. Dreher, who will remain site steward for the nature preserve, will rely heavily on volunteers for everything else.
Restoration days for Boloria Fen are scheduled for the first Saturday of every month from October through April. No experience is necessary. Haderlein said she hopes more visitors will take advantage of this nature preserve, which can be accessed from a trail north of 7219 Millburne Court. Parking is available on the street.
The next restoration day will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6.