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Understanding Our Nature Preserve Selections

ChicagoNatureNOW! Alerts provide information about great things happening in our featured preserves. However, there may be other noteworthy natural events happening at other sites, too, and we don’t want you to miss them. Therefore, we’ll occasionally promote happenings at preserves that are not officially featured here.

Our Featured Preserves Are Special

The nature preserves presented here represent what I’ve determined from years of experience to be the finest examples of the natural history of the region known as Chicago Wilderness. It is an area formed by glaciers that receded about 13,000 years ago and is defined by its unique geology and habitats that extend around the lake from southeast Wisconsin into northwest Indiana.

There are hundreds of nature preserves within the Chicago region, totaling about 1,600 native plant species, and I encourage you to visit them. Unfortunately, most have been overrun by more than two hundred weedy invaders from other regions and continents, leaving behind just a handful of local species behind to Chicago’s natural history. These invaders appear beautiful on the surface. But, if left unattended by land managers and volunteers, very few native plants would survive. Over my many years photographing for Chicago Wilderness magazine, I have fallen in love with a special smattering of sites that are not only exceptional in terms native biological diversity, but they are especially beautiful and provide an escape from urban life. They’ve stolen my heart, and my hope is that they’ll steal yours, as well.

As the battle to remove the invaders continues, and ecological restoration breathes new life and beauty into an increasing number of degraded sites, I will continue to explore and to add more high-quality nature preserves to this website.