Burr Oak Valley Nature Preserve

This is a private preserve. See message below about visiting.

Great News! Burr Oak Valley is now protected even more by way of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission granting it Illinois State Nature Preserve and Nature Preserve Buffer status at their May 11, 2021 meeting. Read more about it HERE.

Burr Oak Valley Nature Preserve, a gem of a natural area, persists to this day because Julia and Eugene McCleary took deliberate steps to protect it in the 1980s. With a generous donation from the McClearys and McCleary Industries, the Natural Land Institute purchased the first 63 acres of the property in 1986 and has provided stewardship ever since. In 2013 an additional 35 acres adjacent to the preserve and accessible from Elevator Road was donated to NLI by McCleary Industries bringing the total size of the preserve to 93 acres.

Burr Oak Valley Nature Preserve is one of the few woodlands in the area untouched by development. It represents what surveyors saw when they visited this part of Illinois in the 1830s. Natural communities include mesic upland forest, dolomite prairie, dolomite cliff and intermittent stream.

Layers of dolomite bedrock come very close to the surface on much of the preserve, and outcrops are found along the creek and the nearby hillsides covered with black oak, shagbark hickory and hackberry. Along the south border, an oak woodland abruptly drops down to a small creek. The wildflower display in the springtime is superb. Three small dolomite prairies with species such as little bluestem, side oats gramma and purple prairie clover, are located in the northwest corner.

To learn more about the history and restoration of this preserve click here: The History and Restoration_Burr Oak Valley

To read about the birds and butterflies that have been seen at the preserve read the: Bur Oak Final Bird Report Apr.Oct2016.


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Winnebago County, 98 acres
Access is limited.

Visiting Burr Oak Valley Nature Preserve

This is a private preserve that is not open to the public. NLI members may request permission to visit this private natural area owned by Natural Land Institute.  Periodic hikes open to the public are held at the preserve. For more information and to request permission to visit please call 815.964.6666 or email: info@naturalland.org.

  • East of Roscoe
  • Mile north of Bur Oak Road
  • Mile east of Hamborg Road

For information about becoming a member or to renew your membership today click here.

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