Nature Preserve Area
Location And Access
Proceed southeast from Hanover for approximately 1.5 miles on the Hanover Hill Road to the Whitton Road. Turn south on the Whitton Road and proceed approximately 0.25 of a mile. The preserve is on the bluffs on the east side of the road.
Hanover Bluff is the first dedicated Nature Preserve located in the Wisconsin Driftless Natural Division. This natural division represents the Illinois portion of the North American geo-biological feature known as the "Driftless Area". The area, first described in 1823 by geologist W. H. Keating, represents a landscape isolated from the direct glacial impact of the Pleistocene glaciation. The "Driftless Area" is known for its scenic topography and rare plants, several of which are considered Midwestern endemics. Hanover Bluff is located on a high dolomite ridge that forms a valley wall of the Mississippi River. Here, six native plant communities survive: sand hill prairie, dry dolomite prairie, dolomite cliff, dry-mesic and mesic upland forest and seep springs. The sand hill prairie is one of the most interesting communities. Only the very steep, drier, less accessible slopes escaped grazing and still display beautiful prairie wildflowers. The highest quality slopes are dominated by little bluestem, sideoats grama, hairy grama and over 80 other native prairie species thrive there. The large forests and moister areas add to the diversity of this already unique area. White oak, black oak, red oak, basswood and sugar maple are a few of the canopy species, while several rare wildflower species occur in the herbaceous layer. These communities provide habitat for many nongame wildlife species such as the bald eagle, scarlet tanager, wood thrush, timber rattlesnake, prairie ringneck snake and several species of frogs and toads. Management here includes cutting cedars and burning the prairies.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy
May 1987 as the 150th Illinois Nature Preserve
For Further Information
Illinois Nature Preserves Commission
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702