Bureau County SWCD Natural Areas

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


General Policies


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


- Poisonous plants and wild animals may occur at these sites and have inherent characteristics which could be dangerous to visitors.

- No snowmobiles, ATVs, or dirt bikes 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.

Warnecke Woods

Size: 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

Size: 7 acres

Deeded by: John and Winona Hood

Uses: Environmental education, hiking, wildlife observation

Public Access: Yes, parking along road

Location: Macon Township, Section 17

Habitat: Oak / hickory woodland


Indian Boundary Line Prairie

Size:  7 acres

Owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation but managed by the SWCD.

Uses:  Wildflower observation, 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

Size: 200 acres

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

Uses: Hiking, environmental education, wildlife observation, research, cross-country skiing, primitive camping for educational groups (with permission from the SWCD office)

Public Access:  Yes, parking available

Location: Gold Township, Section 17

Habitat:  Sand prairie, bottomland woodland, pine plantings


Witness Tree

Size: 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: Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Note of Interest: Tree is over 200 years old and was the Council meeting site for Sac and Fox tribes. Tree served as a main survey point for the Rock Island Railroad. It spans 85 feet and has a trunk circumference of 14'.


Center Prairie

Size:  14 acres

Owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation but managed by the SWCD.

Uses:  Wildflower observation, environmental education

Public Access:  Yes, parking available along Old Route 6

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

Habitat:  Native prairie grasses and forbs