Although a significant portion of the southern part of the County was converted from prairie and woodlands to agriculture in the 1800s, many small woodlots can be seen scattered across the landscape. Often providing building materials and firewood to early pioneers, these remnants of an earlier landscape have remained in the same family ownership for several generations.
One such woodland is located along Highway 3 in Castle Rock Township in an area historically known as Poplar Grove. One landowner, Marcia Hinz, dreamed of protecting her 8-acre portion of Poplar Grove and submitted a Farmland and Natural Areas Program application to the County during the first application round in 2003. Hinz’s land proposal was not selected, but staff encouraged her to talk with her neighbors about applying as a group in the future. She was successful in getting three of her neighbors to apply with her in 2005 to submit a larger, joint proposal. In the meantime, she continued to replace invasive species with native species. The combined, 48-acre easement project was recommended for approval in 2005.
As part of the acquisition process, a preliminary Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) was developed for all four landowners. The NRMP focused on removing invasive trees and shrubs, such as buckthorn and honeysuckle, and re-establishing native oak forest and savanna species. Several small dump sites were also cleaned up.
Just prior to the County’s acquisition of the easements on the Hinz and adjoining properties, Hinz had to move from her property. Determined to make sure the property would be permanently protected, she worked with County staff and the buyer to ensure that the easement would be in place prior to the sale. Thanks to her dedication, she has left a legacy of land protection and natural resource improvement on this and adjoining land.