A 482-acre remnant lake plain wet prairie designated as a wetland of international importance, an ecological gem. Enjoy nature study, birding, photography, and hiking. Take Sheridan Road (Hwy. 32) to 116th St., east to 1st Court, south to 121st Street, west to 2nd Avenue.
It is the mission of the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund to acquire, restore, manage and preserve Chiwaukee Prairie and support research and environmental education.
Volunteers are needed for: Restoration, Seed Collecting, Rare Plant Monitoring, Invasive Species Scouting, Historical Research, Frog Monitoring, Special Projects, and Bird Surveys.
BACKGROUND: The Chiwaukee Prairie Illinois Beach Lake Plain supports some of the richest and most diverse habitats in the Great Lakes region. In recognition of these globally significant natural communities, the Lake Plain—located between Kenosha, Wisconsin and Waukegan, Illinois—is being designated a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention (September 25, 2015 announcement). Ramsar is a global environmental and intergovernmental agreement that provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. More than 50 years of conservation led to this international recognition.
The Ramsar Convention is designating 3,716 acres of land owned by eight public landowners along Lake Michigan in southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois as a Wetland of International Importance. The designated area starts north within the Village of Pleasant Prairie and continues south to the City of Waukegan, including: Kenosha Sand Dunes, Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural and Scientific Area, Carol Beach Parks and Open Space, Spring Bluff Nature Preserve, Fossland/Novotny Park, Dead Dog Creek, Illinois Beach State Park and Nature Preserve, Hosha Prairie, Bowen Park and Glen Flora Tributary.
The Lake Plain Meets Three Ramsar Designation Criteria: This coastal landscape, covering approximately 15 miles of coastline, contains the highest quality coastal dune and swale ecosystem in the region. The Lake Plain supports six globally rare representatives of fen, sedge meadow, freshwater marsh and seep wetland communities, as well as critical sand savanna and dry prairie upland habitat. The publicly and privately protected ecosystem connects 14 different community types, seven of which are wetland communities:
- The Lake Plain contains six representative community types of exemplary high quality, which are designated with a global conservation status ranking of imperiled or vulnerable.
- The Lake Plain supports two federally protected wetland dependent species, including the only highly viable population of eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) in the region, as well as 1,236 acres designated as critical habitat area for the federally endangered piping plover (Charadrius melodus).
- The Lake Plain serves as important breeding habitat for many wetland dependent bird species and provides critical migratory stopover habitat for at least 310 migratory bird species. A portion of the Lake Plain (2,039 acres) is designated an Important Bird Conservation Area by the National Audubon Society.
Further, the Lake Plain provides additional noteworthy ecological and socio-economic services: • The Lake Plain wetlands and associated upland prairie and savanna complex provide habitat for over 930 native plant species and 300 animal species, including 63 state protected species. • The Lake Plain provides critical ecosystem services, including protection of Lake Michigan water quality. Five major tributaries and several minor tributaries flow through the Lake Plain prior to reaching Lake Michigan. • The Lake Plain provides significant tourism opportunities for local communities, engaging community members in volunteer conservation stewardship, and providing high quality examples of coastal wetland communities for education and scientific research.