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Enjoy working outside? How about giving a hand-up to nature? JDCF is looking for volunteers to help with a variety of land stewardship projects. This is your chance to participate on a prescribed burn, join workday teams to battle invasive species at one of our preserves, or plant trees as part of ongoing restoration plans. Great opportunities for individuals, Scout troops, church and school groups looking to give back to their community.
OUTREACH & EDUCATION
Have you ever thought about becoming a citizen-scientist? How about giving tours of beautiful places to area residents and visiting tourists? Maybe you enjoy planning outdoor events like mothing parties, luminaria hikes, or experiences in nature for youth? JDCF offers many volunteer opportunities to people of all ages through our Education and Outreach Program.
Looking for a way to get your steps in while exploring spectacular pieces of property? JDCF is looking for volunteers to monitor our preserves and lands under conservation easement by walking them and taking photos for documentation. Many of these properties are privately owned making this a unique opportunity to see new parts of Jo Daviess County.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The Search For Affordable Land
Stewardship Services Is Over!
Preserve Closures Announced
September 29th, 2023
JDCF announces the following dates for preserve closures due to hunting lease commitments. Horseshoe Mound: October 7-9, October 21-22, October 27-29, December 28-31, and January 12-14, 2024. Valley of Eden […]
Open Position – Part Time Administrative Assistant
August 24th, 2023
JDCF is seeking a part-time Administrative Assistant to support the internal functions in a manner that promotes efficiency, accuracy, professionalism and adherence to established standards; provides financial and human resources […]
“Big Sky Nature Preserve” – JDCF Announces Largest Land Donation to Date
August 9th, 2023
This is the story of one of the most incredible gifts ever given: to JDCF, to the natural world, and to the people of Jo Daviess County. A gift over […]
JDCF Opens New Stewardship Shop
August 9th, 2023
Over the last decade, JDCF has worked hard to greatly expanded our stewardship capacity. From 1 dedicated staff member using a DR push mower and a well-used, donated truck to […]
Unique Conservation Model Preserves Bedford Hollow
April 11th, 2023
JDCF Protects Iconic Stockton, IL Area Landmark
April 11th, 2023
Chloris Lowe Jr. Honored with JDCF Conservation Award
April 10th, 2023
NORTHWEST ILLINOIS STEWARDSHIP COOPERATIVE – NISC
December 14th, 2022
The Northwest Illinois Stewardship Cooperative (NISC) is a collaborative partnership of organizations and individuals with land stewardship and conservation interests in northwest Illinois. NISC evolved out of an earlier collaborative effort in the region launched by Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in 2012 called the Northwest Illinois Invasive Species Strike Team (ISST). Although the ISST project was extremely successful in achieving its goal of controlling invasive species primarily on lands owned by JDCF and IDNR, two things quickly became apparent: (1) In addition to invasive species control services, many other types of land stewardship services were sorely needed, and (2) Many other conservation organizations in the region also had need of such services. Launched in 2016, NISC began as an informal partnership to work together on common stewardship issues, train on best management practices, share resources/opportunities, and cooperatively address natural resource concerns. In 2018, NISC completed a strategic planning process, which resulted in the “Northwest Illinois Land Stewardship Cooperative Strategic Plan (2018),” which established the following Vision and Purpose: Vision Statement: “The Northwest Illinois Land Stewardship Co-op (NISC or Co-op) believes that collaboration works: ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ The co-op works with private and public landowners across political and geographic boundaries to educate, train, and apply the best land management across northwest Illinois’ extraordinary landscape. We do this to promote and improve land and water health in the region.” - NISC Strategic Plan (2018) Purpose Statement: “The purpose of the Northwest Illinois Land Stewardship Cooperative is to improve regional land health by successfully addressing land stewardship challenges including the effects of invasive species, lack of adequate prescribed ecological fire, and other natural area management concerns across jurisdictional boundaries and service regions.” - NISC Strategic Plan (2018) NISC worked to implement this vision and purpose with funding assistance from a grant award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF’s) Pulling Together Initiative (PTI) awarded to Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, who served as the fiscal agent and project manager. This PTI grant, together with other grant funds and fee-for-service funds provided by NISC Member organizations, allowed JDCF to hire two full-time staff to deliver land stewardship services to NISC Members from 2018-2020. Following the end of the PTI grant the need for affordable land stewardship services did not go away. In fact a 2020 survey of potential clients found a huge demand for these services. To address this need, NISC transitioned to a fee-for-service program that offers these services to NISC Members, Non-Profit groups, Government Organizations, and Private Landowners. Services Prescribed Fire Invasive plant control Native Species Introduction Native Seed Mix Sowing Native Plant Plug Installation Native Tree Plantings Forest Stand Improvement Forestry Mulching Land Management Consultation Services GIS Mapping Botanical Surveys/Natural Community Inventories Invasive Species Assessment Management Plans 5 year Management Plans 5 year Management Plans with contract pricing Habitat Restoration Plans Illinois Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
Rutherford Refuge at Twin Bridges Becomes JDCF’s First Nature Preserve
February 17th, 2022
After reading this headline, you may be asking yourself, “What do you mean ‘first’ Nature Preserve?” What about Schurmeier Teaching Forest? What about Wapello? What about Casper Bluff, Horseshoe Mound, Valley of Eden, and all the other natural areas that JDCF has protected over the last 29 years? Yes, JDCF has preserved these natural areas in perpetuity for future generations to enjoy. But the title of “Nature Preserve” carries a very special meaning within the State of Illinois, and it’s not a title that is easily attained. “Nature Preserve” is an official legal status bestowed on certain special natural areas by a little-known state government agency called the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC). While INPC does not own any land itself, INPC uses Nature Preserve dedications in order to permanently protect land that is owned by nonprofit organizations like JDCF, governmental entities, and private landowners. A Nature Preserve dedication is the highest form of legal protection that a natural area can achieve in the State of Illinois without an act of Congress. “Nature Preserve” is also an official status that is reserved for only the rarest and highest-quality natural areas in Illinois. The Rutherford Refuge at Twin Bridges is one such natural area. It contains the “best of kind” wet-mesic prairie and sedge meadow habitats located within Illinois’s portion of Driftless Area. The refuge also contains dry-mesic prairie, oak barrens, oak savanna, upland forest, and coolwater stream habitats that paint a unique mosaic of habitat types on the landscape, which are home to several rare plant and insect species. Acquired by JDCF in December 2020, the Rutherford Refuge at Twin Bridges was founded with generous financial support from the Rutherford Family and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. It’s named in memory of John and Barbara Rutherford who owned and stewarded the property from 1988 to 2018. “Our mom had a vision,” said Bryn Davis, one of John and Barbara Rutherford’s four children that helped create the refuge. “I know she and dad would be thrilled beyond words at the fact that Twin Bridges has been dedicated as a Nature Preserve! They knew that it was a special place and they wanted it to be protected and available for others to enjoy. This dedication just reinforces what our parents and JDCF saw in this little gem of a place.” The Rutherford Refuge at Twin Bridges Nature Preserve joins the ranks of more than 400 dedicated Nature Preserves across Illinois totaling more than 60,000 acres. It is only the fourth Nature Preserve to be dedicated in Jo Daviess County and the only Nature Preserve in the county that is not owned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In addition to over 400 Nature Preserves, INPC has registered 196 “Land and Water Reserves” totaling more than 54,000 acres across Illinois. Similar to Nature Preserve dedications, INPC uses Land and Water Reserve registrations to permanently protect Illinois’s most important natural and archaeological areas. However, unlike Nature Preserves, Land and Water Reserves allow for a wider variety of recreational uses to occur onsite and are used to protect sites that may be of slightly lower quality and may not qualify for Nature Preserve status. JDCF’s Land and Water Reserves include Wapello, Casper Bluff, and Keough Effigy Mounds. The Rutherford Refuge at Twin Bridges Nature Preserve is located at 9532 East Twin Bridges Road, Warren, Illinois. It’s open to the public for passive outdoor recreation daily from dawn to dusk.
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