The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

Calendar & Projects


Kankakee Sands

Kankakee Sands

This Burnham Plan Centennial Green Legacy Project has helped enhance local pride in a bi-state region that contains one of the rarest ecosystems on earth—the landscapes at the south end of Lake Michigan where sand and water shifted through the millennia to create rich environments for nature and wildlife. Tens of thousands of acres of sand prairie, savanna and marsh lands originally comprised the Kankakee Sands region, which spans the Indiana–Illinois border and generally follows the Kankakee River. With most of the marsh lands drained and land cultivated, the sand prairie, savanna and marsh ecosystems have become rare and fragmented.

While most of the Grand Marsh has been lost, the black oak savanna landscape survives and contains the largest concentration of high-quality sand savannas in the United States. This is the kind of regionally significant open space that the Green Legacy initiative seeks to preserve. The Nature Conservancy, other conservation organizations and the two state governments are pursuing a long-term program for prairie and marsh protection and restoration. More than 7,000 acres in Kankakee Sands have now been protected. T

The Carl N. Becker Savanna Nature Preserve of 68 acres was officially dedicated on April 28, 2009. On May 16, 2009 the Nature Conservancy and the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission celebrated the site’s dedication as part of the Burnham Plan Centennial.

For a print-friendly fact sheet on the Kankakee Sands, click here.

Program Partners

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection ...[MORE]

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Our mission is to manage, protect and sustain Illinois' natural and cultural resources; provide resource-compatible recreational opportunities and to promote natural resource-related issues for the public's safety and education. [MORE]

Illinois Nature Preserves Commission


Rapid changes in land use and expanding urban development prompted the Illinois General Assembly to establish the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission in 1963 to create a system of natural areas representative of Illinois’ landscape. The Illinois Natural ...[MORE]

The Nature Conservancy

Contact: Leslee Spraggins,, 312.580.2111


The Burnham Plan Centennial
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