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Prescribed Burn

Photo Gallery of Prescribed Burn:

Nov. 5, 2011


Photo Gallery

Brimfield Railroad Prairie Nature Preserve


Brimfield Railroad Prairie Nature Preserve

Now Open to the Public

The Brimfield Railroad Prairie Nature Preserve, a 6-acre 1/2 mile long restored native prairie is now open to the public for a number of outdoor activities; including:

  • Birding - now listed as a public eBird Hotspot

  • Hiking

  • Butterfly watching

  • Enjoyment of nature

  • Education and outreach as an example of high quality biodiversity

The preserve is located at 18320 W Forney Road, Brimfield. The Jubilee Prairie Dawgs, a volunteer group dedicated to native prairie restoration, have partnered with Peoria Audubon Society to help maintain this prairie. It contains over 100 native prairie plant species, which are a critical part of the food web for many species of birds, butterflies and bees. 

The restored native Illinois prairie is listed as protected lands by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to assist with the protection of high quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species. Peoria Audubon Society is committed to long term conservation of these areas and is excited to share them with the public.

Peoria Audubon encourages visitors to record their bird sightings at eBird.org, where the property is listed as a public birding hotspot. Please note that there are a number of restrictions:

  • No camping

  • No fires

  • No hunting or fishing

  • No collecting of plants or seeds

  • No restroom facilities are available

Visitors are asked to follow "Leave no Trace" principles for outdoor ethics when visiting Peoria Audubon properties and other natural areas.

History of Brimfield RR Prairie

This 6.20 acre parcel of restored native prairie was donated to Peoria Audubon Society in August 2010.  The 1/2 mile long strip, near Brimfield, IL that was once railroad right-of-way has been transformed into a thriving native prairie community.  The site, which is about 104 feet wide, was documented by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to contain greater than 100 native prairie species, including 4 reintroduced populations of the state endangered Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra). 

Brimfield Railroad Prairie Nature Preserve

The prairie was restored with the understanding and commitment of the Jubilee Prairie Dawgs - a local group of volunteers that started as a very informal group in the 1970s.  See the FAQs below. 

The rails and ties were removed years ago, and since the 1990s, the Prairie Dawgs have worked to restore the Brimfield Railroad Prairie to promote greater biodiversity while protecting and preserving a native mesic (i.e., relating or adapted to a moderately moist habitat) prairie community.  Much of the credit for the biodiversity of prairie species goes to the Prairie Dawgs.   The Dawgs careful planning, hard work, diligence, and perseverance with prairie restoration have paid off.    

According to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, The prairie lies on the border of 2 natural divisions and is representative of both the Galesburg Section of the Western Forest-Prairie Natural Division and the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division of Illinois. 

The preserve is an area of importance for native wildlife, flora and fauna.  Protecting and managing the patchwork of biodiversity enables us to study and research our interaction with the environment; for the present and for the future.   

Objectives for Establishing the Preserve:

  • Primary objectives are to protect, preserve, and restore the native mesic prairie community along the former railroad corridor.

  • Focus is on the significant ecological value of the area, which is improved by the increase in biodiversity of species of flora and fauna. 

  • Restore and maintain the preserve as a high quality mesic prairie through the reintroduction of fire, removal of exotic plants, and interseeding of native prairie seed collected form local sources.   

Overall Management Goals

  1. Maintain boundary posting.

  2. Continue prescribed burn program.

  3. Control Woody plant succession throughout preserve.

  4. Control exotic herbaceous plants throughout preserve.

  5. Collect seeds on site and from other local sources to interseed more degraded portions of the preserve.

  6. Monitor any adverse impacts from herbicide drift and contact adjacent landowners if needed.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions


Why is Peoria Audubon interested in preserving prairie?

As Peoria Audubon continues to work toward procuring a local wetland sanctuary for birds, our written land acquisition policy states:

  • The area should have significant ecological value and provide habitat for native species of fauna and/or flora.

  • Smaller parcels must have documented significant native plant communities or be documented migrant bird stopover areas.

  • The stewardship of the area must be determined as part of the acquisition decision.

Ownership of this small prairie fulfills these aspics of the policy and charter of the Peoria Audubon Society. Additionally, ownership of the prairie helps establish the credibility of our organization as we move forward to acquire and develop a local wetland sanctuary.


Who are the Jubilee Prairie Dawgs?

The Prairie Dawgs are a small volunteer group that started clearing brush north of the Jubilee State Park near Brimfield, IL in the 1970s for the Peoria Astronomical Society.  Today, the Prairie Dawgs are still informal and dedicated to promoting biodiversity in native prairie landscapes.  The Dawgs have a "regular" work schedule of the first and third Saturday of the months between April and September.  The Prairie Dawgs manage small plots of prairie in several locations - not just the Brimfield Railroad Preserve. 


How could I contact the Prairie Dawgs to help?

Contact: Doug Franks at 309-691-7993


What can I learn from the Prairie Dawgs?

One can learn all about native prairie.  According to Doug, "This is a specialized way of gardening.  You can't learn this from books alone. You need the hands on experience."  This is a great opportunity for people with interests in native plants. 


How are controlled burns conducted?

At the Railroad Prairie, 1/2 of the property is burned this year, then the other 1/2 of the property is burned the next year.  The purpose of the burn rotation is to preserve the insect population on the property. 


There can be issues with farmers on both sides of the property. “We cannot burn when corn stubble is present,” according to Doug.  Since the property is surrounded by corn fields on three sides, herbicide drift is sometimes a problem


Can seeds and plants be taken from the prairie?

No.  All seeds and plants are being used to reseed more degraded portions of this prairie and other native prairie preserves.  


Are there any issues with the makeup of the Railroad Prairie?

According to Doug Franks, there is a problem with clumps of sweet clover.  Also, there are issues with Gray Dogwood, native cherry, mulberry and a few other woody species.  These trees & shrubs are materials that sometimes do not burn up during the prairie burn. 


Do the Prairie Dawgs ever show off their prairie restorations? 

The Prairie Dawgs conduct a tour of select local properties, once a year, on the 4th Saturday in July.  The tour allows the Dawgs to show off the restoration progress.  The tour starts at 9:00 AM at the Observatory on Jubilee-Brimfield Road in Peoria County.  Contact Doug Franks (309-691-7993) for more information. 


How can I contact Peoria Audubon Society about the Brimfield Prairie?

The prairie preserve is not developed to handle large numbers of visitors.  All inquiries and questions on the prairie should be sent to the Peoria Audubon Board at audubon@peoriaaudubon.org


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