One and half miles of Raccoon Creek meanders through Lost Flora Fen on Raccoon Creek. Photo: Curt Johnsen

Natural Land Institute (NLI) is excited to announce that land owned by the 65 year old conservation land trust, Lost Flora Fen on Raccoon Creek in northern Winnebago County, was given final approval by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) at their 246th meeting today (Jan. 23, 2024) for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve. This is the highest level of legal protection in Illinois that is available for a natural area with high conservation values. NLI will hold a dedication ceremony later this year.

The 246th Meeting of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission dedicated 156.7 acres of Lost Flora Fen as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The area includes a large portion of the 62.9-acre Lost Flora Fen INAI (Illinois Natural Areas Inventory) site (#1972), which was recognized in 2021 as a Category I site. The qualifying natural features are an 8.9-acre, Grade B Sedge Meadow and an associated 13-acre, Grade C Sedge Meadow. More than half of the INAI site (35.9 acres) is within the new Nature Preserve boundary. Lost Flora Fen was also included on the INAI as a Category II site for suitable habitat supporting two state endangered animals and one state endangered plant. Preliminary approval for dedication was granted in September 2023 at the 245 INPC meeting (Resolution #2606).  Dedication of the Lost Flora Fen on Raccoon Creek Nature Preserve will help protect and restore high-quality wetlands on a landscape level scale.

Lost Flora Fen on Raccoon Creek is NLI’s second largest preserve and consists of 387 acres with a variety of habitats from Raccoon Creek meandering through it to woodlands, sedge meadow, and prairie, to low productivity farm fields that will be restored to grassland habitat, and a wetland with fen-loving species that has a 600 foot boardwalk. Lost Flora Fen is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset for walking at 5565 Yale Bridge Rd., Rockton, IL 61072

The “Lost” in this site’s name refers to several plant species that were lost to county records in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and then re-discovered in a habitat inventory done by NLI staff prior to the purchase of the first 40-acre tract of this preserve in 2018. Fen refers to the type of many fen-loving species that grow here, even though the soil is not considered a true fen (a groundwater fed wetland). The watershed of Raccoon Creek is a priority protection area for NLI. More than a mile and a half of Raccoon Creek meanders through this preserve.

Read more about Lost Flora Fen here: https://www.naturalland.org/preserve-lost-flora-fen/ and learn more about the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission here: https://dnr.illinois.gov/inpc.html.

 

 

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