Barrington Area Conservation Trust celebrates milestone year
Mike Lauzon helps the Barrington Area Conservation Trust spread wild native seeds Dec. 27 at the Pederson Nature Preserve. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:35AM
BARRINGTON HILLS — The year 2012 proved to be a milestone for the Barrington Area Conservation Trust, as the organization reached the 500-acre mark in protected land in the area.
Based in Barrington Hills since 2000, the organization plans to open its new headquarters on Main Street in Barrington on Jan. 15.
Karen Yancy, the Conservation Trust’s executive director, explained that the group has grown to about 400 members, and a larger office is needed. Since 2006, the Trust has added a business manager and a land protection director.
The Trust protects open lands in Barrington through conservation easements, land donations and purchases.
“This year, we crossed the 500-acre mark and we’ve done more than 20 conservation easements,” said Yancy, explaining that conservation easements are legal agreements that prohibit future development on open lands.
Conservation easements, Yancy noted, are more common in places like New England or on ranches near the west coast.
Barrington resident Mary Bradford-White, who was impressed with conservation easements she saw on the east and west coasts, brought the environmental initiative to the area 13 years ago.
The group’s first effort worked to protect a farm called Horizon Farms in Barrington Hills. Yancy explained that a developer aimed to build 80 homes on the 440-acre site. Although the family that had lived on the farm was no longer there, Yancy said the family did not support a large-scale development on the land. Bradford-White stepped up to protect that vision.
“Today, you can still see the horizon, which is why it was called Horizon Farms,” she said.
Although the area has seen a lot of open space go to development in recent years, Yancy said the group is still committed to protecting Barrington’s low-population density.
Yancy pointed out that the Trust also advises landowners on what they can do to make their property more conservation-friendly, like removing invasive species and replacing them with native plants.
“We come out and advise folks on what they can do to make their property more environmentally-friendly,” added Lisa Woolford, the Trust’s director of land protection. “It’s a huge privilege to be out here making a difference.”
Yancy said another achievement in 2012 was the restoration of the Gravel Hill Prairie in Barrington Hills.
“That not only protected native plants, but equestrian trails, too,” she said.
Yancy said she’s proud to have been a part of the effort keeping the environment healthier by reducing noise, light, air and water pollution.
With a recent grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Trust hopes to spend 2013 working to restore the watershed in Tower Lakes. Also, protecting the area’s oak forests and working with the Horticulture Club at Barrington High School are in the group’s plans for 2013.
Yancy said the Trust is excited about the move onto Main Street and continuing its land protection efforts.
“People move here because they like the open land,” she said. “We are seeking to protect the remaining open spaces in Barrington.”