In a landmark project, Cuba Township, Village of Tower Lakes, Barrington Area Conservation Trust, and Citizens For Conservation announced that they had cooperated to provide funding to purchase a 15.5-acre parcel, known as Barclay’s Woods in Tower Lakes, and permanently protect it as a nature preserve.
The four groups each contributed funds towards the purchase of the property, which was owned by Barrington Bank & Trust. The parcel is located east of Route 59 off Pebble Creek Road in Tower Lakes. It is an oak savanna with 100- to 200-year-old white and red oak trees that contains both a high-quality creek and wetlands that flow into Tower Lakes and Wagner Fen.
The property will be jointly owned by Cuba Township and the Village of Tower Lakes. A conservation easement held by the municipalities and the Barrington Area Conservation Trust ensures that the property is protected as a nature preserve in perpetuity. Citizens for Conservation will oversee restoration efforts at the site.
“The preservation of Barclay Woods is a remarkable project because both government and conservation groups recognized the high conservation value of this property and cooperated to protect it for the environmental health of the community,” said David Nelson, Cuba Township Supervisor.
Nelson noted that in addition to the municipal and conservation groups’ financial support, four private donors contributed to the purchase and funds were also provided by the Tower Lakes Community Foundation.
“With little state or federal funding available to protect open lands, this kind of cooperation is what will be required in the future to preserve Barrington’s remaining open lands with high conservation value,” said Karen Yancey, executive director of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust. “The conservation easement on the property protects the high-quality wetlands and oak trees that would take generations to replace.”
“It was critical to preserve Barclay Woods to protect the water quality of both Tower Lakes and Wagner Fen,” said Kathleen Leitner, Village of Tower Lakes president. Leitner said that hiking trails on the property will provide new recreational opportunities for residents.
The parcel was originally an oak forest before a developer purchased it several years ago. The conservation groups hope to restore the native habitat on the site that existed before European settlement.
“Citizens for Conservation is pleased to be part of this multi-party initiative to preserve open lands in the Barrington area as it has done since its founding in 1971,” said Peggy Simonsen, CFC president. “The property is part of an important wildlife corridor that links habitats connecting CFC’s Barrington Bog and Wagner Fen preserves.”
Under the Conservation Management Plan for the parcel, the groups will work with community volunteers over the next two to three years to remove invasive species from the site and begin building the hiking trail. An Oak Recovery Grant received by the Barrington Area Conservation Trust from Chicago Wilderness and the U.S. Forest Service will also be used to help restore the oak forest that once grew on the site.
Submitted by Barrington Area Conservation Trust