Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

PRAIRIE PARKLANDS 

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Goose Lake Prairie is the largest prairie remnant in Illinois. What remains today are prairies and marshes with a large and diverse biota; over 326 species of vascular plants are present. Several unusual birds, such as the least bittern, Henslow's sparrow, Virginia rail, and northern harrier nest or inhabit the area.

Map of Site
Land Cover Map of Site

SIZE: 152,669 acres; 239 square miles

LOCATION: Northeastern Ilinois south of Joliet; Grundy and Will counties

The dominant feature of the Prairie Parklands RRA is the recently created Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the nation's first federally designated tallgrass prairie, at the former Joliet Arsenal. Significant natural features in the RRA include prairies, wetlands, and streams. The southern border of Prairie Parklands RRA adjoins the Kankakee-Iroquois RRA.

The upland sandpiper, a bird that inhabits prairies, pastures, and hayfields, nests in the Prairie Parklands area. Formerly a common summer resident throughout the state, the upland sandpiper is now an endangered species in Illinois, driven to near-extinction by the loss of prairies and market hunting. The largest concentration of upland sandpipers in the state is in the Prairie Parklands area. Preservation and proper management of large grassland areas are critical for this species.

LANDCOVER : The landcover at this site is predominantly cropland (45%) followed by grassland (30%). This site ranks third in percentage of grassland and has the highest percentage outside of northwestern Illinois. Prairie Parklands ranks eighth for percentage of nonforested wetlands. Compared to the other RRAs, the percentages of upland and bottomland forest are low.

NATURAL AREAS : More than 10,000 acres (18 sites) of Natural Areas are recognized in this RRA. Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (i.e. Joliet Arsenal) accounts for half of the acreage. The other Natural Areas include prairies, savannas, geological features, and aquatic systems.

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS : BSS streams in this RRA are the Illinois and Kankakee Rivers and Manhattan Creek, which total approximately 24 miles.

HERITAGE SITES : The 85 Heritage sites include 12 significant community types, eight of which are prairies. Sixteen species of plants and 17 species of animals are listed as Heritage occurrences.

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND: Twenty-two percent of this RRA is state or federal land. Two state parks and a state conservation area are located in the Prairie Parklands RRA. At the time of this analysis the largest public holding, with 26,904 acres, was the Joliet Arsenal; much of this land will become the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

NATURE PRESERVES: The six Nature Preserves in this RRA include several prairies, as well as savannas, wet meadows, and marshes. They range in size from a prairie in a cemetery of less than an acre to Goose Lake Prairie (1,580 acres).

NATURAL DIVISIONS: Most of the Prairie Parklands RRA is in the Grand Prairie Division; 10% is Northeastern Morainal Division.

SUMMARY OF SITE CHARACTERISTICS: SIZE, BIOLOGIC RESOURCES, AND PUBLIC LANDS

Total Acreage 152,669
Natural Areas

    Acreage

10,037

    Number

18
Biologically Significant Stream Mileage 23.8
Natural Heritage Sites 85
State Land

    State Parks

2

    State Conservation Areas

1

    State Forests

0

    State Fish & Wildlife Areas

0

    Acreage

7,324

    Percentage of RRA

4.8
Federal Land

    Acreage

26,904

    Percentage of RRA

17.6

 


 

LANDCOVER

    Acres

    % of RRA

Upland forest 1,691.45 7.66
Bottomland forest 3,225.38 2.11
Wetland - nonforested 3,485.30 2.28
Grassland 46,474.97 30.44
Cropland 68,991.81 45.19
Urban/Built-up 10,778.23 7.06
Water 8,023.51 5.26
TOTAL 152,670.65 100.00

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURAL AREAS INVENTORY SITES

    Acres

Blodgett Road Dolomite Prairie *
Braidwood Dunes and Savanna 298
Collins Station Prairie 15
Des Plaines Dolomite Prairie 9
Goose Lake Prairie 1,674
Grant Creek Prairie 117
Hitts Siding Prairie 244
Illinois River -Dresden 847
Joliet Army Ammunition Plant 5,831
Kankakee River 698
Manhattan Creek 29
Munch Area 142
Plaines Station Geological Area 5
Rock Run Corn Salad Site 3
Rockdale Geological Area 4
Schweizer West Geological Area 3
Wilmington Geological Area 2
Wilmington Shrub Prairie 115
* = point location, map not available

 


 

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS

    Miles

Illinois River, above Dresden L&D 7.1
Kankankee River, Momence to Des Plaines Cons. Area 8.4
Manhatten Creek 8.4

 


 

NATURAL HERITAGE CATEGORIES
Communities

    Occurrences

    Types/Species

    Lake

1 1

    Wetland

3 2

    Savanna

1 1

    Prairie

17 8
Threatened and Endangered Animals

    Bird

23 10

    Fish

6 4

    Insect

5 2

    Mollusk

1 1
Threatened and Endangered Plants

    Plant-Dicot

13 9

    Plant-Monocot

7 5

    Plant-Fern/Fern Ally

4 2
Geological Feature

    Geological Feature

4 1
 

 


 

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND
State Parks

    Acres

    Goose Lake Prairie

2,412

    Illinois & Michigan Canal

260
State Conservation Areas
Des Plaines 4,652
State Forests 0
State Fish and Wildlife Areas 0
Federal Land  

    Joliet Arsenal

26,904

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES

    Acres

Braidwood Dunes and Savanna 244
Goose Lake Prairie 1,580
Grant Creek Prairie 69
Sand Ridge Savanna 158
Short Pioneer Cemetery Prairie 1
Wilmington Shrub Prairie 157

 


 

NATURAL DIVISIONS

    Acres in RRA

    % of RRA

    % of Division

Grand Prairie 136,906 89.7 1.1
Northeastern Morainal 15,763 10.3 0.6

 




Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820
217-333-6880
cms@inhs.illinois.edu

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