Bartel Grassland

blazing star flowers in bloom at Bartel Grassland. Photo by Erin Soto.
Photo by Erin Soto.

Formerly an agricultural field divided by hedgerows, 585-acre Bartel Grassland is a flat, wet landscape that is now home to an increasing variety of native plant and bird species. An observation area with a mound allows visitors to see how restoration efforts have encouraged natural processes.

On this page:

Location & Things to Do

Bartel Grassland Land and Water Reserve

Things to Do & Amenities

Illinois Nature Preserve: This land is designated as one of the highest quality natural areas in the state by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. This status includes increased levels of legal protection and management. Learn more on the Illinois Nature Preserves Page.


Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts

Bartel Grassland is recognized by Audubon as an Important Bird Area for bobolink.

Nature Notes

A former agricultural field divided by hedgerows, Bartel Grassland is now home to an increasing variety of native plant and bird species as restoration efforts open up the landscape and encourage natural processes.

Spread across a low, flat plain, this land once attracted scores of species of breeding grassland and wetland birds. Decades of agricultural use, however, including the planting of Osage orange trees to create hedgerows and the draining of wet areas, divided the site and reduced its usefulness as a breeding site. (Grassland birds need large, treeless expanses to nest.)

Restoration work has encouraged many species to return, however, and it is now recognized by Audubon as an Important Bird Area for bobolink. Bartel once again serves as breeding habitat for grassland birds, many of which migrate here from South and Central America every summer. Birders may see bobolink, eastern meadowlark, grasshopper sparrow, Henslow’s sparrow, savannah sparrow, sedge wren, and dickcissel. Look for short-eared owl and northern harriers in the winter.

Scan the wide expanse with binoculars to spot coyotes and deer in the distance.

volunteers restoring a wet area at Bartel Grassland
Photo by Joe Occhiuzzo.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Bartel Grassland Volunteers are restoring a 585 acre hayfield to a grassland where bobolinks nest in the spring/summer and short-eared owls feed in the winter. Participating in volunteer restoration is one of the best ways to enjoy and develop a deeper understanding of Bartel Grassland. Volunteers can work on invasive plant control, seed harvesting, hydrological restoration and more.