Dayton Bluffs Conservation Effort

I regularly give thanks for the amazing gift so nature in our River Valley. Growing up one of my favorite places to escape was with a long walk through the trails of Starved Rock State park, rain or shine. As I spent years in Chicago upon relocating direct from Champaign, when asked where I was from Starved Rock was always a place just about everyone recognized. While Callaghan was in preschool in Oak Park, a few families even biked out the I&M Canal regularly to explore the wonders of these gorgeous cliffs and river.

As a University of Illinois Master Gardener intern, I am tuned in to the incredible shift to continually preserve the passion for gardening and an awakening of the urgency for providing food safety as science continues to jeopardize the very makeup of our plant matter.


Today, I want to give you an update about Dayton Bluffs, an area just north of Ottawa. The Conservation Foundation purchased the plot and many volunteers from the Master Naturalist and the Master Gardeners groups as well as other organizations and individuals who are passionate about the development of this area.


“Dayton Bluffs is a natural and archeological gem for the people of Ottawa,” President and CEO Brook McDonald, said.

Cleanup and restoration efforts already have started, but there’s a lot of work ahead at the 253-acre preserve. The property was purchased by The Conservation Foundation in 2013 and will be leased to the City of Ottawa to manage as a public preserve.

The Dayton Bluffs property received a high rating in a 1999 ecological study inventorying high quality natural areas along the lower Fox River. Several prehistoric archaeological sites have been discovered on the property.

About 15 acres were cleared of invasive plants such as buckthorn and honeysuckle recently with the help of more than 500 employees from  Fairmount Santrol. The company produces sand-based products for the oil and gas industry and has locations worldwide including Wedron, about 15 miles upstream on the Fox River from Dayton Bluffs.

Future plans include a roadway and parking area, trails, and education programs for the public.

Donations can be made online using this form online: The Conservation Foundation donation.

Donations also are accepted by mail: McDonald Farm, 10S404 Knoch Knolls Rd., Naperville, IL, 60565. Checks should be made payable to The Conservation Foundation, and indicate Dayton Bluffs.

The Conservation Foundation is a not-for-profit dedicated to preserving lands, cleaning up rivers and streams, and promoting stewardship of the environment.  Find out more at


~I will keep you updated on volunteer days and upcoming projects where we can gather to contribute our time and effort in the upcoming months~


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s