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Keepers of the Prairie Membership Program 

In 1998, the Barnhart Family had a dream of creating a high quality prairie for future generations to experience. By early 2000, this became a reality when 80 acres were placed in a conservation easement held by the Champaign County SWCD. The overall project gained Nature Preserve status in fall of 2005. Since then, the prairie has thrived, but there have been challenges managing the property that have led to the introduction of this program. Thank you for your interest in joining our membership program to the Barnhart Nature Preserve located at 1499 CR 1200 N, Urbana IL!


In an attempt to manage years of vandalism and trespassing, we have tried a variety of opening times ranging from fully open, open on designated days, and fully closed. We know that many of you have missed being able to visit more freely, so we have designed this program to let well-intentioned visitors enjoy our wonderful prairie. All members will be known as Keepers of the Prairie, since together we will protect this incredible site.


To become a Keeper, you must be willing to follow the rules of our Prairie, listed below. Keepers will be given access to the code to the gate. During the hours from 7 am – 7 pm, May through October, you can come and let yourself in, closing the gate behind you during your visit. When you leave you must close and lock the gate. Most of our vandalism issues happen during the night, so it’s crucial that everyone closes properly upon leaving. 

Please be respectful of our neighbors and only use the Prairie parking lot, trails and picnic table between designated hours 7 am – 7 pm (closing at 7 pm, not arriving at 7 pm).
Please close and lock the gate behind you every time you come in and leave. Please do not share the code that is given to you.
Please obey the rules posted- stay on the trails, take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints. Give all animals, insects, birds, etc their space.
No pets allowed, especially dogs (we love dogs too, but the prairie is not the place for them).
Do not go off trail. We no longer have a long trail deep into the prairie to be respectful of known animal habitats. Even though you may remember that trail, it no longer exists.

Yearly Donations

The Barnhart Prairie Restoration Project, a Non Profit organization, oversees the maintenance of the entire site and depends on donations to help maintain this high-quality nature preserve.

To be a Keeper, the amount you donate is completely up to you, but the following are suggestions:
$50 donation helps us tackle invasive species control
$100 donation helps us invest in land management for our trails and property
$500 will help us hire an intern to provide educational resources to the next generation of prairie ecologists!


1. Open application PDF icon (click it to open) 

2. Download or save file to your computer

3. Open file in adobe or similar program

4. Email the form to Champaign County Soil and Water District:

5. OR - print the form, fill it by hand, sign it, and mail to the address listed on the form

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