Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois


CNAsites.jpgBeginning with the purchase of Trelease Woods in 1917, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has slowly acquired permanent research sites for environmental, ecological, and biological research and teaching purposes. The restricted access sites represent a cross-section of biotic communities native to east-central Illinois and are managed with minimal human impact.

The Committee on Natural Areas (CNA--Dr. Brian Allan, chair) strives to provide secure, long-term, university-owned properties to enhance environmental and ecological research and education opportunities for the UIUC campus. It is the role of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Natural Areas unit to maintain and manage these sites. Twelve University areas are currently under the direct supervision of the CNA, together they comprise about 971 acres (390ha.). The sites provide access to stretches of the Embarras River, Timber Creek, Sangamon River, Saline Ditch, and the Salt Fork River. All of the CNA areas are restricted access, closed to the public and to recreational activities. Only authorized, minimal human impact research and instruction are permitted on the sites.

Permission for teaching and research may be issued to University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, Illinois Department of Natural Resources personnel, and researchers and instructors from other colleges, universities, and agencies. For further site-specific information, tours of sites or permits, please contact James Ellis.



  • Trelease Woods – since 1917 – 60 acres - “virgin” prairie grove forest remnant – 2 small ponds – ~ 12,070 trees > 3” dbh.
  • Trelease Prairie – since 1942 – 20 acres reconstructed tallgrass prairie – also 10 acre reconstructed local genome forb buffer prairie.
  • Brownfield Woods – since 1939 – 60 acres - “virgin” prairie grove forest remnant – ephemeral creek – ~ 9,780 trees > 3” dbh.
  • Phillips Tract – since 1968 – 130 acres – former farm – allows manipulative studies – oldfield, 40+ year successional trees, reconstructed prairie, 1-5 year successional strips, row crops, power line corridors, limited field plots, 970 m of Saline Ditch access, two outbuildings.
  • Nettie Hart Research Area – since 1965 – 40 acres – second growth (~150 year old) upland oak/hickory forest & flood plain forest – 430 m Sangamon River access.
  • CCDC-Collins Woods – since 1991 – 13 acres – woodlot with pasture/grazed history.
  • Nanney Research Area – since 2000 – 45 acres – 40+ year successional upland and flood plain woods – 1,200 m Embarras River access.
  • First and Windsor Pond - since 2015 - 15 acres - about 8 acres of old field vegetation with woody species plantings and a 6 acre flood control pond.


  • Funk Forest – since 1950 – 62 acres – “virgin prairie grove forest remnant” upland and flood plain forest – 380 m Timber Creek access.


  • Rutan Research Area – since 1993 – 26 acres – Upland woods with grazing history – artesian spring.
  • Edgar and Sophia Richter Research site – since 1989 – 22 acres – Second growth & successional, upland and flood plain woods – 820 m access to Salt Fork River.
  • Vermilion River Observatory – since 1959 – 477 acres – upland and flood plain second growth eastern deciduous forest – successional oldfield and woods – crop ground – ravine systems – ponds, ephemeral creeks, seeps – field building.

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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