Glacial Park, McHenry County Illinois
Prairie restoration, in particular, and conservation, in general, are the primary missions of the McHenry County (Illinois) Conservation District, near Richmond Illinois, southwest of Chicago. The District (MCCD) owns or manages 24,383 acres throughout McHenry County. Glacial Park, south of Richmond on Illinois State Highway 31, is composed of, 3,300 acres of prairies, oak savannas, meandering creeks, and kames, a type of glacial deposit shaped like a low hill.
Lost Valley Visitor Center
Opened in August of 2010, the Lost Valley Visitor Center at Glacial Park is LEED certified, Green Building. The majestic new building, perched above the Lost Valley (pictured below), has magnificent views of the sweeping valley and its marshes, prairies, and oak savannas that the MCCD restores and manages.
The visitor center used recycled lumber from existing barns on MCCD property; recycling also included pieces of old bottles, mother of pearl buttons, and pieces of old pane windows to adorn interior walls. Natural infiltration of rainfall is also an emphasis. The Visitor Center grounds include rain gardens, permeable pavers, native plants, and low-flow fixtures.
About three hours south of Madison, the Lost Valley Visitor Center and Glacial Park are worth a day-trip or long weekend as there is plenty to see and many learning opportunities.