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 Places We've Protected

Since 2001 HeartLands Conservancy has worked with both landowners and community leaders to protect over 8,760 acres of open space within southwestern Illinois. Efforts have included placing conservation easements on a number of properties, as well as acquiring a number of properties, some of which are owned by HeartLands Conservancy, and some of which have been transferred to either state or federal agencies, or local units of government for long-term ownership and management. Following are the sites that are protected in perpetuity as a result of our efforts and partnerships.

Clinton County, Illinois

Trenton (Private Ownership)

Ten acres of mature hardwood forest just outside of Trenton is being protected through a conservation easement that will maintain the forest and wildlife benefits and preserve hundreds of native wildflowers. This area is in the path of urbanization outside of Trenton and the easement will maintain the plant and animal habitat and serve as scenic open space along the public road that runs along the site.

Mosenthein & Gabaret Islands, City of Madison

Madison County, Illinois

In 2001, working in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Trust for Public Land, and The McKnight Foundation, HeartLands Conservancy was able to assist in acquiring all available remaining private interests in Gabaret and Mosenthein Islands. These two islands, which represent 2,000 acres, are a major component of the overall Chouteau Island complex (5,500 acres). The islands are owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Chouteau Island, City of Madison

Madison County, Illinois

In 2004, with funding provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation HeartLands Conservancy was able to acquire an additional 94 acres on Chouteau Island, which has been deeded to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for long-term ownership and management.

Willaredt Properties, Edwardsville

Madison County, Illinois

The Madison County Board, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and HeartLands Conservancy signed two conservation easements to protect a total of 52 acres in Madison County in 2004 and 2008. HeartLands Conservancy will hold the conservation easement of these parcels of land to preserve, restore, and maintain natural features, wetland resources, and ecological values of the property to provide wildlife habitat, maintain water quality, and control water runoff. “HeartLands Conservancy has been a very cooperative partner in assisting Madison County with this long-term conservation effort. HeartLands Conservancy’s involvement will ensure that the land is conserved as open space for generations to come,” stated Mike Fruth, former Stormwater Coordinator for Madison County.

Willoughy Heritage Farm and Conservation Preserve, Collinsville

Madison County, Illinois

The Collinsville Area Parks and Recreation District entered into a conservation easement with HeartLands Conservancy in 2003 on 30 acres of wooded land located in Collinsville. The land will be used for conservation purposes as outlined in the master plan for the property. Residential, commercial, and most all other land uses are prohibited by the conservation easement. HeartLands Conservancy will monitor the property in perpetuity to make certain that the conservation values are maintained. The Willoughby Heritage Farm & Conservation Reserve is a unique site that is heavily secluded from adjacent properties. This secluded nature is conducive to environmental education. Once restored, the farm will represent the stand-alone subsistence family farm of the 1920s through the 1950s..

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Arlington Wetland, Pontoon Beach

Madison County, Illinois

Arlington Wetland is an 83-acre remnant meander of the Mississippi River and its preservation, through two conservation easements, will serve an important role in providing stormwater storage, clean water, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for this community in Madison County. The preservation of this property would not have been made possible without the partnership created with Madison County government and the Collinsville Area Recreation District. The funding for this project was also a collaborative effort involving ConocoPhillips, The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Levee Lake, Collinsville

Madison County, Illinois

In 2011 HeartLands Conservancy acquired the 79.5 acre Strackeljahn Properties within the American Bottom ecosystem in Collinsville. The acquisition was strategic in nature in that it adds to the previously protected Levee Lake Illinois Natural Inventory site which lies to the south. Combined, over 400 acres are now protected in that area. Levee Lake serves as one of the best remaining swamp – pond habitats remaining in the American Bottom ecosystem.

Fults, (Private Ownership)

Monroe County, Illinois

A native plant preserve located in the karst topography area of Monroe County is being protected with a conservation easement. Over 400 native plants are located on this thirteen acres site that serves as a unique opportunity to feature such broad ecosystem diversity. This site is also protected from urban development and the ground water quality is maintained within this fragile geologic area.

White Rock Nature Preserve

Monroe County, Illinois

Clifftop and HeartLands Conservancy partnered in the acquisition of 475-acres along the bluff in Monroe County. The acquisition of this property allows the land to be preserved as a natural area in perpetuity. The White Rock tract, just south of Valmeyer along Bluff Road, contains a mosaic of hill prairies and limestone glades, a large swathe of upland forest, and is home to several threatened or endangered species. The tract is a designated Illinois Natural Area Inventory site, and has been approved as an Illinois Nature Preserve and is open to the public.

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Kidd Lake Marsh

Monroe County, Illinois

Kidd Lake Marsh Natural Area, 445 acres, is located along Bluff Road in Monroe County, at the base of the Mississippi River bluffs, near the community of Fults. The site is included on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, (Fults Hill Prairie – Kidd Lake Marsh), and is contiguous to the Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve, a National Natural Landmark. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources owns and manages both sites. In 2011 HeartLands Conservancy acquired an additional 94.5 acres at this site, which is consistent with multiple reports and studies, including the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, which calls for an increase in wetlands of 4,000 acres within the American Bottom, the Middle Mississippi River Regional Corridor Reach Reports which reflects the high level of restoration potential at Kidd Lake Marsh, and finally the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture Implementation Plan (a sub-component of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan) (2007): which recognizes Kidd Lake Marsh as one of the most important wetlands within the State of Illinois for breeding species. This property has been deeded to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for long-term ownership and management.

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Rockwood Island

Randolph County, Illinois

Working in partnership with the American Land Conservancy, HeartLands Conservancy has acquired nearly 1,000 acres on Rockwood Island. This property has subsequently been deeded over to the US Fish & Wildlife Service for inclusion in the Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge.

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Ellis Grove (Private Ownership)

Randolph County, Illinois

A 160-acre family farm in Randolph County is been protected through a conservation easement signed in 2009. For over a hundred years the property has been available for farming, hiking, hunting, fishing, and wildlife habitat. With a conservation easement in place this can be assured for future generations. The property consists of a mix of prime agricultural and mature forested land and will provide a critical sanctuary for wildlife in the area.

O’Fallon (Private Ownership)

St. Clair County, Illinois

These properties are located just outside of O’Fallon, and the two conservation easements, totaling 180 acres, protect a mixture of cropland, woodland, riparian areas, and a home site. Forest, wildlife, and other conservation values will be maintained for perpetuity in an area where much of the surrounding lands have been converted to urban uses. Since the O’Fallon area has seen such a high rate of growth and conversion of land to impermeable surfaces, this easement provides critical groundwater recharge and absorption capacity to the community. The long-term plan of the landowner is to convert the cropland to either forestland or grassland through the CRP program. The landowner has implemented woodland improvement through removal of undesirable woody vegetation in several areas to encourage the growth of more desirable species.

Millstadt – Stemler Cave Area (Private Ownership)

St. Clair County, Illinois

Two conservation easements just west of Millstadt in the karst topography region protect a total of 92 acres from conversion to urban uses. One parcel includes 42 acres of mature woodland and tall grass prairie that provides significant wildlife habitat and open space values for the community. The second parcel provides for the protection of 50 acres of open space and the farmland is being restored back to forest and wildlife habitat through tree plantings, pond and wetland construction, and other conservation practices. Urban development along Kropp Road was threatening these properties that will now be protected in perpetuity and will provide significant open space and conservation values to the community and region.

Engelmann Farm, Shiloh

St. Clair County, Illinois

The 143 acre Engelmann Farm was purchased by HeartLands Conservancy in 2007 to eventually be dedicated as a county park. This property, which sits on one of the highest points in the region, contains two historic houses, eighty acres of high-quality woods and the balance in farmland. Future plans for the site call for passive recreation.

High Valley Easement, Shiloh

St. Clair County, Illinois

In 2010 the Village of Shiloh entered into a conservation easement to protect the 13 acre High Valley site, which lies south and west of the intersection Frank Scott Parkway and Green Mount Road. This area is rapidly urbanizing, and this 13 acres, which lies in the upper reaches of Richland Creek, will provide important stormwater storage, as well as wildlife habitat in perpetuity. The property is owned by the Village of Shiloh.

Collinsville

St. Clair County, Illinois

A 1.5 acre wooded area in a subdivision in Collinsville was donated to HeartLands Conservancy to be maintained as open space and to protect the heritage of the last remaining piece of a family farm. The wildlife habitat area will be protected as open space in an otherwise fully developed urban area. The long term plan is to convert the area into a public park or maintain as a wildlife habitat area in the community.

Carbondale, (Private Ownership)

Jackson County, Illinois

A 66 acre family farm just southeast of Carbondale is now protected from conversion to urban uses through a conservation easement that was signed in 2007. This farm, which has been in the family for over 100 years, provides open space and wildlife habitat value in an area that is rapidly being converted to residential uses. The property offers a scenic view along Giant City Road and provides a variety of plant and animal benefits for present and future generations

Elsewhere

As land trust coverage within much of southern Illinois is limited, HeartLands Conservancy is sometimes called upon to assist in protecting properties outside of out typical area of work. There are limited land conservation projects that have been undertaken outside of southwestern Illinois.