Burr Oak Valley Preserve, a gem of a natural area, persists to this day because Julia and Eugene McCleary took deliberate steps to protect it in the 1980s. With a generous donation from the McClearys and McCleary Industries, the Natural Land Institute purchased the property in 1986 and has provided stewardship ever since.
Burr Oak Valley Preserve is one of the few woodlands in the area untouched by development. It represents what surveyors saw when they visited this part of Illinois in the 1830s. Natural communities include mesic upland forest, dolomite prairie, dolomite cliff and intermittent stream.
Layers of dolomite bedrock come very close to the surface on much of the preserve, and outcrops are found along the creek and the nearby hillsides covered with black oak, shagbark hickory and hackberry. Along the south border, an oak woodland abruptly drops down to a small creek. The wildflower display in the springtime is superb. Three small dolomite prairies with species such as little bluestem, side oats gramma and purple prairie clover, are located in the northwest corner.
Bur Oak Valley Preserve was purchased by the Natural Land Institute in 1986 with a donation from McCleary Industries of South Beloit.
Winnebago County, 63 acres
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