Hike the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
With over over 34 miles of trails on a prairie of over 18,225 acres, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie about is an ideal spot for a day hike.
And the Tallgrasses are no all to see. In 2015, the prairie approved the use of 1,200 acres to establish a conservation herd of American Bison. The 20-year plan will study the relationship between the historic large grazing animal, which almost became extinct, and prairie restoration and health. The National Forest Foundation and USDA Forest Service installed a web cam for visitors to check-in on the bison herd throughout the day.
While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the seedbeds, another on-going project at Midewin to restore the prairie with native Illinois plants.
The tallgrass prairie reserve is in the central forest-grasslands transition ecoregion of the temperate grasslands, savannas and shrublands biome.
Midewin remains the only federal tallgrass prairie preserve east of the Mississippi River, where surviving areas of that habitat are extremely rare. With the adjacent Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area and a number of other state and county protected areas in the immediate area, Midewin forms the heart of a conservation macrosite totaling more than 40,000 acres of protected land.
The pre-European settlement vegetation map of Midewin shows most of the site was prairie prior to the arrival of European settlers. The northwestern corner of the site along Jackson Creek was forest. Another small, forested area existed in the extreme southwest corner of Midewin along the Kankakee River and Prairie Creek.
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