About Us

Original restoration site sign between the parking lot and the prairie

The Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards began their work in 1989 as a joint effort between the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Illinois, The Nature Conservancy, and the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. The group has been working actively in the years since to return native plant communities to the Carl Hansen/Poplar Creek Forest Preserve in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb northwest of Chicago. Native tallgrass prairie and woodland communities are making a reappearance on this former farm site thanks to the dedication of the stewards.

The  restoration site incorporates the nine-acre Shoe Factory Road Nature Preserve, a virgin gravel hill prairie. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, “Shoe Factory Road Prairie is a dry to dry mesic gravel prairie perched on the crest and slopes of a glacial deposit or kame of sand and gravel. The well-drained glacial deposits and the orientation and exposure of the slopes to the mid-day sun and wind combine to create a hot, dry habitat for prairie plants. Plants found at Shoe Factory Road Prairie that are especially well adapted for this harsh environment include little bluestem, sideoats gramma, northern dropseed and porcupine grass. Over 100 prairie species have been identified at this site,” which was dedicated as Illinois’ 10th Nature Preserve in 1965.

In 2009, the Stewards began active management of the Schaumburg Road Grasslands between Golf Road (Route 58) and Schaumburg Road, west of Route 59 (Sutton Road), with a goal of making that area more appropriate for grassland bird populations.

Why restore? Illinois’ once-majestic prairies, savannas, and woodlands have suffered the effects of nearly two centuries of development—including suppression of fire, fragmentation, and the introduction of numerous non-native plant and animal species. Restoration seeks to reestablish a more natural balance on the open lands that remain, to create favorable conditions that can better support a wide diversity of plant and animal life.

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