Loda Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve

County: Iroquois
Ownership: Grand Prairie Friends
Dedication: June 1983
Size: 3.4 Acres
Stewards: Beckie Green; David and Justine Trout; Bill Archer


Loda Cemetery Prairie is an outstanding example of the original mesic black soil prairie in the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. For many years the prairie at Loda Cemetery was idle. The grasses were mowed regularly but were never cultivated or pastured. In 1981, the Cemetery Association ran out of burial space in Pine Ridge Cemetery and made plans to expand into the prairie. The Natural Lands Institute negotiated an alternative plan that would allow for expansion of the cemetery while preserving the prairie. The institute acquired 5 acres of farmland adjacent to the cemetery to give to the Cemetery Association. In turn, the Association agreed to dedicate the prairie as a nature preserve.

The prairie contains over 130 native plant species. The dominant grasses are Indian grass and big bluestem. Common spring flowers include shooting star, downy phlox, and yellow star grass. Rattlesnake master, compass plant, and wild quinine are typical during the summer, while goldenrods and asters are abundant in the fall. The small size of the preserve limits its value as a wildlife refuge since most birds and mammals require more extensive habitat, but grasshopper sparrow, yellowthroat, and meadowlark have nested in the prairie. Also, many uncommon butterflies restricted to prairies may reside here. The charismatic prairie cicada may be heard singing and seen flying here in July.

In 2007, Grand Prairie Friends took an exciting and bold step to further protect this wonderful remnant of tallgrass prairie—we raised $40,000 and purchased about 9 acres of adjacent farmland to expand the prairie. Volunteers worked hard in 2007 and 2008 to collect seed, and in January 2009, the first 3.5 acres of prairie was planted!

How to get there: From Champaign-Urbana take US 45 north through Rantoul, Paxton, and Loda. In Loda, turn left on Jefferson Street (210 N) and then right on Mulberry Street. Follow Mulberry around to Pine Ridge Cemetery. Park on the road near the east side of the cemetery, and follow the mowed path north along the east side of Pine Ridge Cemetery to access the preserve.

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.