In the fall of 2014, 30 bison were relocated to the Nachusa Grasslands where they safely roam thousands of fenced-in acres. This is Illinois’ first conservation herd – not raised on a ranch for meat, but for the purpose of restoring a piece of the North American plains. The bison will be kept as wild as possible and virtually unmanaged by humans except for one day a year when they are corralled for minimal veterinary care.
The remainder of the 3,000-acre Nachusa Grassland is open to the public for hiking, bird watching and other activities that do not harm the natural landscap. The area is a mosaic of community types that includes dry gravel hill prairie, black oak and bur oak savanna, calcareous fen and seeps and sedge meadows. Owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.
Information for visiting the Nachusa Grasslands:
• The preserve is open from dawn to dusk.
• Bison can be viewed from the public roadsides only. The bison roam across 1,500 acres of rolling land and are often not visible from the road. Binoculars are helpful. No hiking is permitted inside the fenced bison unit.
• An information kiosk is located at the visitor entrance on Lowden Road.
• You can hike on or off the trails from dawn to dusk.
• Wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and sun protection.
• Bring a bottle of water.
• A Port-a-John is located by the visitor entrance.