Bonnie's Prairie Nature Preserve

County: Iroquois

Ownership: Grand Prairie Friends

Dedication: December 1992

Size: 10.2 Acres


Bonnie's Prairie contains the only sand pond protected as a nature preserve in East-Central Illinois. The site encompasses a high-quality sand pond and wet sand prairie characteristic of the Kankakee Sand Area Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. The area is underlain by wind-blown sand deposits.

The sand pond is a still body of typically shallow water brimming with a wide array of wetland plants including cordgrass, fowl manna grass, small-flowered water plantain, pickerel weed, bur reed, and yellow pond lily. Two very uncommon, native species of bee that gather pollen exclusively from pickerel weed occur here. A variety of waterfowl frequent the pond. Wet sand prairie lies on an adjacent flat, low area and is strongly dominated by blue joint grass with occasional water smartweed and blue flag. On the other side of the pond, a low hill supports dry-mesic sand prairie typified by plants such as little bluestem, panic grass, hairy puccoon, goat's rue, and sand milkweed.

How to get there: From Champaign take 57 north to the Gilman exit, then take Highway 24 east to Watseka. Turn left onto US 1 at the McDonald's. Take this about 1 mi and turn right onto 1400?N. You will hit the Union Pacific railroad roughly .5 mi down the road. There is a small dirt parking spot next to the road and tracks to the right.

Please note: This is an Illinois State Nature Preserve, and use is limited to walking, birding, and photography. Camping, picnicking, littering, pets, and vehicles are not allowed inside the preserve. All plants, animals, birds, and insects are protected, so do not disturb or remove any natural objects including rocks, plants, seeds, or insects.

Click here to see a complete list of sites we help protect.