Hickory Creek Preserve
Located at the corner of Wolf Road and Lincoln Highway in Mokena, Hickory Creek Preserve (also known as Fermilab North Nature Preserve) is one of the most significant natural areas under protection by the Forest Preserve District of Will County.
Hickory Creek's broad expanses of marshland hosted sandhill cranes for years until habitat loss reduced their numbers. Humans also impacted sandhill crane populations when they sold eggs taken from nests in Alaska in the early 1900s, which resulted in federal charges against several people. Humans can still damage sandhill cranes by running them down with all-terrain vehicles, hunting them, or taking away their young through illegal trapping activity. The result has been fewer and fewer sandhill cranes finding nesting areas in the Midwest.
Hickory Creek Preserve is also home to a great blue heron rookery, an important site for these large birds. A rookery is a colony of herons, egrets, or cormorants that nests together in trees or on cliffs. Great blue herons are common along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, often nest in colonies.
The preserve offers visitors nearly 2 miles of hiking trails that wind through woodlands and wetlands. The courses are open from dawn to dusk every day of the year. Visitors can also enjoy bird watching, fishing, and nature study at the preserve. Pets are not allowed on the trails or in the wetlands area.
Hickory Creek Preserve comprises 62 acres donated to the Forest Preserve District of Will County by Fermilab and 100 additional acres purchased with funds raised from a 1998 referendum. The preserve is bounded on the south by Wolf Road, on the west by Hickory Creek and an electric utility corridor, on the north by an office park and residential development, and on the east by Illinois Route 50.
The area comprising Hickory Creek Preserve was once home to numerous plants and animals indigenous to Will County. Over time, this land has been transformed into farm fields, residential developments, commercial properties, roads, trails, and power line rights-of-way.
Although this land has seen many changes in its history, it still retains some of its original characters and provides valuable habitat for various plants and animals. The preserve is an important refuge for wildlife in an increasingly developed area.
The Forest Preserve District of Will County acquired the 62 acres from Fermilab in 1998, thanks to a referendum passed by district voters. The district purchased an additional 100 acres in 2000, 2001, and 2002 using funds raised from the sale of Development Rights Offset Credits.
In 2007, the district opened a new nature center at Hickory Creek Preserve. The center offers exhibits about the preserve's natural features and the plants and animals that live there and environmental education programs for school groups and the public.
Climate Control Systems
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