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The 1,541-acre Hickory Creek Preserve was acquired between 1942 and 2010.
The preserve is part of the Hickory Creek preservation system, which conserves more than 2,000 acres of land.
The preserve is the District's largest individual preserve, and the majority of the land was acquired for a regional stormwater reservoir which was never constructed. This access area features the New Lenox Historical Society's historic one-room Schmuhl School.
A 559-acre portion of the site was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve in 1998. This dedication provides permanent protection for the natural resources at the preserve.
Hickory Creek Barrens protects a diversity of habitats, including forest, prairie, savanna, wetland, and a portion of Hickory Creek.
Wildlife found at the preserve includes more than 50 bird species, such as the pileated woodpecker, yellow rumped warbler, brown creeper, and hermit thrush.
The nature preserve is also home to a variety of plant species, including the largest population of the state-threatened savanna blazing star in Illinois, as well as the federally-threatened Meadís milkweed.