The Forest Preserve District recently completed two land acquisitions that will expand Hadley Valley Preserve in Homer Township and preserve a portion of a farm for educational and restoration purposes in Washington Township.
The acquisitions total 80 acres and bring the Forest Preserve's total land holdings to more than 22,500 acres.
Spring Creek Greenway
The 40-acre Homer Township acquisition on the east side of Cedar Road will increase the size of Hadley Valley Preserve and was the missing link needed to connect two sections of the Spring Creek Greenway Trail. A 5-mile trail section in Hadley Valley will eventually link with a 3.44-mile segment in Messenger Marsh preserve.
“The land purchase also will protect the stream, its associated wetlands and floodplain,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. “It’s important to protect and improve the path for stormwater to flow into the creek, which reduces erosion and pollutants.”
The Forest Preserve was awarded an Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation Grant to assist with the preservation of this parcel. The requirements of the grant will ensure that habitat restoration on the parcel will begin within 12 months.
“If you look at a map of that area, you can see how Forest Preserve's acquisitions began in the 1990s and were focused on land along Spring Creek starting with Walnut Hollow to the west and ending at Messenger Marsh to the northeast,” Schultz explained. “The trail is one component, but the overall goal was to protect the stream and the floodway between the preserves.”
Check out Hadley Valley featured in The Buzz:
The Forest Preserve also accepted the donation of 40 acres located off South Yates Avenue east of Beecher in Washington Township. The agricultural property is part of a larger 160-acre farm held under a conservation easement by the Forest Preserve.
Farm owner Lisbet “Beth” Temple plans to transfer the entire property in regular intervals to the Forest Preserve and this parcel is the first. Once the transfers are complete, the donation would be the largest private land gift in the District’s history.
Temple owned the farm with her late husband Arvid, who was an avid horseman. When the conservation easement was arranged, Temple said she wanted to protect the land from development. The District will preserve the farm as an educational site and restore other portions of the site back to native habitat.
“Beth’s gift allows us to create a new standalone preserve on the east side of Beecher in the Trim Creek watershed, our first in this area” Schultz said. “The land will be restored to wetlands and prairie and could form the base of a larger preserve if we continue to acquire adjacent properties.”
Temple has said she plans to visit and work at the farm as long as she can to stay active and healthy. The farm is named Tempest after her husband’s two dressage horses and one of his dogs. Arvid Temple, who was a surgeon and died in 2007, purchased the farm in 1965 before he met his wife.
Lisbet Temple has said she believes preserving the farm is a part of “repairing the world,” which comes from the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam.
“Our world is damaged, and the only way to repair it is to try to return it to the way it was originally,” she said in a 2013 Herald-News article when the conservation easement was finalized. “I don’t own the farm. It’s like I’m a steward, and I was looking for something to pass on the stewardship to.”
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