Edna Burnett Land & Water Reserve near Villa Grove expands by 60-acres

Grand Prairie Friends (GPF) Board Members are thrilled to announce the expansion of a central Illinois nature preserve- this time in the Villa Grove area. As an east-central IL land trust since 1984, Grand Prairie Friends owns, restores and protects over 1,200 acres of natural spaces across Iroquois, Ford, Champaign, Vermilion, Coles (Warbler Ridge) and Shelby counties.


Villa Grove farmer, Ralph Burnett, wanted to keep the memory of his mother, Edna Edwards Burnett, alive by protecting the land that he loves in her honor. On his property, a beautiful 20-acre wooded corridor along the Embarras River was always one of their favorite nature areas. In 2015, Ralph donated this area to Grand Prairie Friends Land Trust for permanent protection. It was named in her honor, the Edna Edwards Burnett Land & Water Reserve.


Now with Ralph’s recent passing, his sons have continued this family legacy by (today) selling the adjacent 60-acres to Grand Prairie Friends to expand this to an 80-acre preserve in perpetuity. “The expansion of the Edna Burnett Land & Water Reserve is a continuation of Grand Prairie Friends’ efforts to protect and conserve the Embarras River corridor. From the headwaters in Champaign County, the Embarras flows south (here) to the Edna Preserve and continues further south to Grand Prairie Friends’ Warbler Ridge Conservation Area in Charleston. By protecting some of these lands surrounding the Embarras across almost 50-miles, we have a tremendous tool to protect our waterways", GPF Director, Sarah Livesay.


Funds for the purchase were provided by an Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation Land Acquisition Grant which protects natural areas and wildlife habitat in communities across Illinois. Brookfield Renewable Energy will be providing restoration funding over the next 30-years to restore floodplain forest habitat for Indiana, Tri-Colored and Little Brown bats. GPF Land Manager, Jeff Peyton, reports that restoration will begin immediately with the planting of over 27,000 bare-root trees this spring.


As a non-governmental, non-profit conservation land trust, GPF depends on members and donors to support these conservation efforts for central Illinois. Congratulations to all GPF supporters- thank you for being part of this good work.