‘John M. Olin Nature Preserve Complex: A Window to Biodiversity’
The Nature Institute owns more than 400 acres of prime real estate on the bluffs — prime, that is, for the 1000+ plant and animal species that call this land home. The John M. Olin and Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserves Complex is valuable not from a pure aesthetic viewpoint (although that is also an asset!), but because of the diversity of habitats and the size of the contiguous natural landscape. Hill prairies, mesic streamside forests, dry upland forests, rocky cliffs and floodplain forests, situated adjacent to a major U.S. river, all combine to create functional housing for trees, birds, snakes, butterflies, bobcats, leaf-hoppers, frogs and much more.
Illinois’ natural lands are highly fragmented; many wildlife need large tracts of contiguous habitat to successful reproduce and survive. TNI’s preserves provide just that! The state has only about 500 acres of high-quality hill prairie left; some survives at John M. Olin; old growth forest is also rare in Illinois. TNI preserves contain forests that haven’t been logged for decades, and where the forest is functioning largely as it should. And all of this is protected in perpetuity as Illinois Nature Preserves.
The best part is that TNI, while managing for rare natural resources also provides opportunities for anyone interested to come hike, view, and delight in all of this natural beauty. And they work hard to empower the next generation of nature caretakers with well-planned camps and educational programs. Come check it out! Bring a hand lens along and peer at grasshopper up close; or bring binoculars for a front-row look of a soaring eagle. Or just come and take in the views, hug an oak tree, delight in the blooming bellflowers. Come and enjoy all this place has to offer!!!
– Debbie Scott Newman