This is a IDNR (Illinois Dept. Natural Resources) park, one of the most protected areas in Il. It’s located in Zion, kinda a rough neighborhood, but you don’t even realize where you are after entering the park. We also had a great view of the dormant Zion nuclear plant. Awesome…?
This area is 4,160 acres and has a recorded 650+ different plant species. Long recognized for its unique geological features, native flora and unmatched beauty, the Lake Michigan dunes area originally was, in the 1700s, part of the “Three Fires” of the Algonquin Nation: the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa.
This area was slated to be a preserve as early as 1888, when Robert Douglas, a Waukegan nurseryman, and Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect (If you live/visit Chicago, you’ve seen a lot of his work), worked together to make the area a regional park. With industry progressing from the south, sand mining ravaging the dunes and parts of the surrounding rural area succumbing to pasture and homesteads, legislative efforts to save the area finally began in the 1920s.
In 1948, the state obtained the first parcels of what is now known as Illinois Beach State Park. The Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established in 1950 to protect the area. Through its efforts and the determinations of the Department of Conservation, in 1964 the area south of Beach Road was dedicated as the first Illinois Nature Preserve.
This area is unique, as it is a sand dune area, and the rest of Illinois is nothing like it. I was on the hunt for Opuntia – Prickly pear & Juniperus horizontalis – Trailing juniper, both of these are native to this area. In 1804, explorers Lewis and Clark noted that trailing juniper “would make a handsome edging to the borders of a garden”
Cicuta maculata ~ Water Hemlock Stay away!! || A mossy rose gall, caused by a Diplolepis rosea or Bedeguar Gall Wasp. So cute and fuzzy!! Not really detrimental to the plant.
The still standing Zion Nuclear Power Plant. It was built in 1973 and decommissioned in 1998. The hot, nuclear mess still sits in holding tanks below the buildings. Supposedly, the new date for clean-up is in 2020. All the hot stuff will be sent to a remote location in Utah. Poor, Utah… drew the short stick, didn’t we??? It will then be restored to its original habitat, hopefully.
Pretty scary that it sits right next to the largest fresh water supply of the Midwest….
There were a few gulls on the nuclear power plant side of the fence. 😉 They know folks are supposed to stay on the other side of the fence. There are still armed guards here, keeping folks away from the hot mess.
Pretty rocks… I would have made a great petrologist =-)
I love our savannas.
Chelydra serpentina — Common snapping turtle || Lithobates pipiens or Rana pipiens ~ Northern leopard frog They were everywhere!
Breck with Daddy and Chicago waaaaay in the distance.