Following a nine-year restoration effort, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission has designated 918 acres at the intersection of Flossmoor Road and Central Avenue as the Bobolink Meadow Land and Water Reserve.
The land is owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and was restored by the non-profit Openlands, a conservation organization as part of the forest preserve’s Next Century Conservation Plan.
The designation — awarded on May 9 — is not only the “highest form of protection” for a piece of land but also indicates that it contains the highest quality of plant and animal habitat, said Emy Brawley, Openlands’ vice president of conservation.
Bobolink Meadow is south of 183rd Street, east of Ridgeland Avenue, spanning the north side of Flossmoor Road, on both sides of Central Avenue, and includes land at the southeast corner of that intersection. It straddles Tinley Park, Flossmoor and Country Club Hills.
“This is a life raft for a species that is declining,” Brawley said, referring to the bobolink and other grassland birds that need vast expanses of open land to breed. These birds have faced a “steep decline globally” and are in the greatest need of conservation, she said.
Adjoining the Bobolink Meadow, on the south side of Flossmoor Road, is the 585-acre Bartel Grassland and given its proximity to the 898-acre Orland Grassland, all three make up a 2,400 acre network of Land and Water Reserves, she said.
“By identifying and restoring conservation areas in proximity to one another like these, we create the habitat on the scale needed for wildlife to thrive,” she said.
Bobolink Meadow is home to the second largest bobolink population in Illinois, (the largest is Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie) and it is among the state’s largest Land and Water Reserves, she said.
As funding allows, Openlands has taken these parcels and other lands and turned them into high quality…