After a successful fundraiser and matching grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation in June 2015, Conservation District volunteers and staff were able to restore part of Willow Branch Conservation Area in Macon, Illinois.
With funds raised, we removed garbage and debris from the site, planted over 1,000 native tree seedlings, installed and continue to monitor seven bluebird houses, and seeded 44 acres of prairie and 8 acres of savanna. The prairie and savanna seeds grew well and first bloomed in July 2016.
Jeannie Van Leeuwen Maxwell previously owned these 52 acres. Maxwell approached the Macon County Conservation District and its Foundation about purchasing the land because she wanted the property to remain undeveloped and preserved for wildlife. Thanks to a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Macon County Conservation Foundation was able to acquire it in 2012 and begin natural area restoration.
This site is particularly special because it adjoins another natural area that was graciously bequeathed by Verna King in 2002. Together these two properties form Willow Branch Conservation Area.
Like other natural areas in Macon County, they help filter the air you breathe and the water you drink. These areas also provide an oasis of natural habitat that native plants and animals depend on for survival.