Heartland Prairie

In partnership with the City of Alton, The Nature Institute has actively managed the 60-acre Heartland Prairie Project, located on the north side of Gordon Moore Park, for more than 30 years. From the first planting in 1977 to current stewardship activities, the Heartland Prairie Project continues to be a top priority of TNI and its dedicated volunteers.

Boasting more than 150 native prairie plant species and harboring a large variety of grassland-dependent birds, Heartland gives visitors a glimpse into the past. TNI stewardship staff use prescribed fire and other land management strategies to control invasive species and promote a healthy tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

Guests can also enjoy the trails with a guide every second and fourth Tuesday of the months of April through October. Please see the events tab for more details.


Thursday, July 6, 2023 – News Article

We are upset to report that on July 5th vandals destroyed the observation platform at Heartland Prairie with fire. The Alton Fire Department was able to put the fire out but the structure was completely destroyed. 

This platform was a great way for people to get a birds eye view of the prairie and enjoy the blooms throughout the blooming season. Now that opportunity is gone because of the actions of ill-meaning individuals. 

Heartland Prairie is a unique partnership between the Alton Parks and Recreation District and The Nature Institute. The city owns the property while The Nature Institute holds the conservation easement. Since its inception The Nature Institute has overseen the work of many volunteers to create a healthy thriving prairie that is a safe area open to the public. 

At this time, The Nature Institute is not planning to rebuild the structure that was destroyed in the fire. This is not the first time that vandalism has occurred on the property and until we know that signage and structures will be left for the enjoyment of visitors we do not see the wisdom in replacing them.