Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Wilmington

#17 of 69 in Wildlife in Illinois
The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a tallgrass prairie reserve and United States National Grassland operated by the United States Forest Service. The first national tallgrass prairie ever designated in the U.S. and the largest conservation site in the Chicago Wilderness region, it is located on the site of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant between the towns of Elwood, Manhattan and Wilmington in northeastern Illinois.
The tallgrass prairie reserve is in the central forest-grasslands transition ecoregion of the temperate grasslands, savannas and shrublands biome.
Midewin remains the only federal tallgrass prairie preserve east of the Mississippi River, where surviving areas of that habitat are extremely rare. With the adjacent Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area and a number of other state and county protected areas in the immediate area, Midewin forms the heart of a conservation macrosite totaling more than 40,000 acres of protected land.
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Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Reviews
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  • This center offers a nice exhibit with details concerning its efforts to both restore a native prairie and restore a true bison herd. Original bison were often crossed with domesticated cattle to prod...  more »
  • Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a protected area at the former Joliet ammunition plant. The forest service and partners are working to restore the tallgrass prairie environment here. Additionall...  more »
  • The site of the old Joliet Armory?Complete with old structures . There are guardhouses, smelting iron works ? And trails galore. The old buildings you can walk through and admire the ( now !)vintage light fixtures, metal doors,and the inner workings of factory floors. Whether you are a naturalist , Walker, or American Picker .. there is plenty to do and see. Make sure it isn't hunting season though the hunters do have to sign in.
  • Midewin was open to the public only in 2003. Buffalo were introduced in 2015 with the herd now numbering 82. Staff is still working on restoring some areas. I believe that Midewin is still the only National Tallgrass Prairie in the country. This is a wonderful area for bird watching, biking and getting back to nature. The Welcome Center is nice and the staff very helpful and friendly. If unfamiliar with Midewin, I strongly recommend stopping at the Welcome Center first to get a map and ask for recommendations for where to go to make your visit as pleasant as possible. Caution is required though for two reasons. Many of the trails are quite long and to my very limited knowledge have no benches. Therefore, the ability to walk a good distance is usually helpful. In addition, the only place for running water is the Welcome Center. Nice port-a-potties are by all the trailheads too.

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