Grand Prarie Friends of Illinois

Mary Lee in the Prairie

Grand Prairie Friends of Illinois is a nonprofit organization composed of people from many walks of life who share a commitment to preserving and restoring tallgrass prairie in East-Central Illinois. We acquire and manage prairie remnants, conduct prescribed burns, propagate and plant indigenous prairie species in reconstructions, and generate interest in prairies through a variety of educational programs.

GPF was formed in 1984, when a group of citizens from Champaign-Urbana, IL, joined together with a commitment to preserve and restore tallgrass prairie in East-Central Illinois. That year GPF purchased the Shortline Railroad Prairie, 6-acres of prairie along an abandoned railroad right-of-way in Champaign County. Shortline contains a 1 mile trail that is open for walking and nature observation.

In 1992, GPF purchased 10.5 acres of high quality sand prairie and wetland in Iroquois County, naming it Bonnie's Prairie. The prairie contains a variety of plants common to sand prairies including little bluestem, panic grass, hairy puccoon, goat's rue, and sand milkweed, while the sand pond is brimming with wetland plants such as cordgrass, fowl manna grass, small-flowered water plaintain, pickerel weed, burreed, and yellow pond lily. The area harbors several extremely rare insect species that are found in only a handful of other locations in Illinois.

ince its formation, GPF has been actively involved in preserving and managing about a dozen natural prairie remnants, totaling approximately 70 acres of natural prairies. Many of these areas are registered Illinois Nature Preserves, giving these natural areas permanent legal protection. For most of these prairies, GPF provides a volunteer steward who is responsible for managing the site. These stewards lead volunteer workdays, conduct prescribed burns, and control invasive species.

Visit the Grand Prairie Friends Website