Bureau County SWCD Natural Areas

Bureau County SWCD owns and manages several Natural Areas throughout Bureau County. A few of them are open to the public for hiking, wildlife viewing, photography, and environmental education. Please feel free to visit and enjoy these beautiful sites!


General Policies and Warnings


- The removal of any plant or animal species from any Natural Area is strictly prohibited.


- Poisonous plants and wild animals reside on these areas and have inherent characteristics which could be dangerous to visitors.

- No snowmobiles, ATVs, or motorcycles are allowed.

- Use of alcohol and illicit drugs is prohibited.


- No hunting, trapping, or firearms are allowed.

- Natural Areas are closed from sunset to sunrise unless given permission otherwise from the District Office.

Warnecke Woods

Acres:  28 acres

Deeded by:  Mrs. Marie ( Fred ) Warnecke and her two daughters

Uses:  Hiking, wildlife observation, environmental education

Public Access:  Yes, parking available

Location:  Dover Township, Section 32

Habitat: Native grass and forb prairie, oak / hickory upland forest, bottomland forest


Walnut Grove Woodland

Acres:  7 acres

Deeded by:  John and Winona Hood

Uses:  Environmental education, hiking, wildlife observation

Public Access:  Yes, limited parking

Location:  Macon Township, Section 17

Habitat:  Oak / hickory savannah woodland


Old Indian Boundary Line Prairie

Acres:  7 acres

Managed:  Under agreement with the Illinois    Department of Transportation

Uses:  Hiking, environmental education

Public Access:  Yes, limited parking

Note of Interest:  The Old Indian Boundary Line was established in accordance with a treaty made at St. Louis in 1816 between the General Government and the united tribes of Indians.  This line ran from the south end of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Rock River.


McCune Sand Prairie

Acres:  200 acres

Deeded by:  University of Illinois ( 80 acres ) and John D. and Mildred L. McCune ( 120 acres )

Uses:  Environmental education, wildlife observation, cross-country skiing, hiking, primitive camping for educational groups with permission

Public Access:  Yes, parking available

Location:  Gold Township, Section 17

Habitat:  Sand prairie, bottomland woodland, pine plantings


Witness Tree

Acres:  1 acre

Deeded by:  Merle Heise Family and Ed Wirth Family

Uses:  Environmental, cultural, and natural history education

Public Access:  Yes, parking available

Location:  Mineral Township, corner of Section 28, 29, 32, and 33

Trees species and age:  Burr Oak—Quercus macrocarpa 200+ years old

Note of Interest:  Council meeting site for Sac and Fox tribes.  Tree served as a chief point of survey for the Rock Island Railroad.  It spans 85 feet and has a 14' trunk circumference.


Center Prairie

Acres:  14 acres

Managed: Under agreement with Illinois Department of Transportation

Uses:  Wildflower observation, hiking, environmental education

Public Access:  Yes, parking available along Old Route 6

Location:  Wyanet Township, Section 13, 14, & 15

Habitat:  Native prairie grasses and forbs