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Pilcher Park Now A Dedicated Nature Preserve

A large and diverse forest complex near Joliet, known as Pilcher Park, was dedicated as a nature preserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission in May.

The dedication culminates a nearly four-year effort by the Illinois Audubon Society, Joliet Park District, Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to expand and protect one of Northeastern Illinois' premier woodlands.

The dedication protects in perpetuity 293 acres as nature preserve and an additional 110 acres as a land and water reserve at the site. The park is owned and managed by the Joliet Park District and features outstanding spring wildflower displays and old-growth trees.

"More than 270 native plant species have been documented within Pilcher Park, and at least 11 species of birds with moderate to high sensitivity to habitat fragmentation breed on site," said Rita Renwick of the Will County Audubon Society. "The successful completion of this project was the result of a government-private partnership project that lasted several years and was aided by a private foundation."

In September 2014, the Illinois Audubon Society applied for a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to purchase 80 acres of privately owned property adjacent to the park's north boundary, with the intention of transferring the property to the Joliet Park District in the future.

Achieving permanent protection for the high quality resources at the site was a condition of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation funding. The property transfer between the Society and the Park District was completed in August 2017 and expanded the park to 403 total acres in size.

Dennis O'Brien, executive director of Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, notes that several factors contributed to the success of this project including the expertise provided by the Illinois Audubon Society's former director, Tom Clay, and local Will County Audubon Society Volunteers; a commitment by the Joliet Park District to permanently protect habitat; and guidance from the knowledgeable staff of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.

"The foundation is pleased to have helped make the permanent protection of Pilcher Park a reality," said O'Brien.

Pilcher Park is a well-established urban natural area, with miles of hiking trails and roads, outdoor recreation and a nature center with many park district-sponsored activities and education programs.

Allowable uses on designated trails throughout both the nature preserve and land and water reserve include hiking, nature observation, bicycling, cross-country skiing and walking leashed dogs.

"Tthese uses support the mission of the Joliet Park District by engaging children and adults with nature, and are compatible with the long-term preservation of Pilcher Park," said Kim Roman, a field representative with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. "Future management and stewardship of this park will promote the high-quality natural communities and resources of statewide significance."

Katie Zaban, the superintendent of the Pilcher Park Nature Center, noted that "Pilcher Park was conveyed to the City of Joliet in 1920 by Robert and Nora Pilcher, with the stipulation that it be left in its 'wild and natural state. The inclusion of this site in the Illinois Nature Preserves System formalizes that wish and is a fitting tribute to the Pilchers."


The mission of the Illinois Audubon Society is to promote the perpetuation and appreciation of native plants and animals and the habitats that support them. The society is an independent, member-supported, statewide, nonprofit organization. Founded in 1897, the society is Illinois' oldest private conservation organization with 2,200 members, 17 chapters and 19 affiliate groups. The Illinois Audubon Society has now protected more than 5,000 acres by investing $12 million to protect land and water throughout Illinois.


See also:

* Pilcher Park on Facebook.

* Pilcher Park on Twitter.

* Pilcher Park on Instagram.

* Pilcher Park on Pinterest.


Pilcher Park video:

1. "Family trip to Pilcher Park. Spent the morning inside the green house playing by the water fountain."


2. The Pilcher Park Dam.


Comments welcome.


Posted on July 18, 2018

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