Local News

40-acre preserve near Harvard dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve

Irish Oaks Savanna is the fifth nature preserve protected by the Land Conservancy of McHenry County

Irish Oaks Savanna, a 40-acre preserve in Hartland Township protected by the Land Conservancy of McHenry County, was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission during its May 11 meeting.

The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission helps private and public landowners protect high-quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species, according to a news release from the Land Conservancy of McHenry County. Permanently protected by state law, nature preserves are private and public lands that have rare plants, animals, or other unique natural features.

Irish Oaks Savanna is a 40-acre wetland and savanna complex outside of Harvard. The site was listed by the Illinois Natural Area Inventory as the best remaining example of a dry-mesic oak savanna in northeastern Illinois. Savannas are some of the most endangered ecosystems in the world, according to the release.

Other features include a prairie, glacial kame, bur oak savanna, pond, sedge meadows and at least one state endangered animal species.

The site was named after the abundance of Irish immigrants who settled in Hartland Township starting in the 1850s after they helped build the railroads across the county.

Located at 19019 Lincoln Road outside Harvard, Irish Oaks is open to the public for hiking and exploring from sunrise to sunset year-round.

This is the fifth nature preserve protected by Land Conservancy of McHenry County. Two others, Yonder Prairie in Woodstock and Boloria Meadows in Bull Valley, are open to the public, and two others are privately owned sites in central McHenry County.