Grand Prairie Friends Adds New Nature Preserve in Villa Grove Area | Outside

VILLA GROVE – In 2015, Villa Grove farmer Ralph Burnett wanted to keep his mother’s memory alive by protecting the land he loved in her honor.

On his property, a beautiful 20-acre wooded corridor with the Embarras River has always been one of their favorites. Burnett donated this area to the Grand Prairie Friends land trust for permanent protection and named it Edna Edwards Burnett Land & Water Reserve.

As an east-central Illinois land trust since 1984, Grand Prairie Friends owns, restores and protects more than 1,200 acres of natural areas in Iroquois, Ford, Champaign, Vermilion, Coles (Warbler Ridge) counties ) and Shelby.

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Now, with Burnett’s recent passing, his sons have continued that family legacy by selling the adjacent 60 acres to Grand Prairie Friends to expand that to an 80-acre reserve in perpetuity.

Funds for the purchase were provided by the Community Clean Energy Foundation of Illinois Land Acquisition Grant, which protects natural areas and wildlife habitat in communities across Illinois. . Brookfield Renewable Energy will provide funds to restore the site to floodplain forest over the next 30 years. These efforts aim to create prime habitat for three species of protected bats that live in the area.

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