contentsWinnebao County IL Regional Planning & EDCads

Winnebago County Environment


The people of Winnebago County have a long history of caring for the land and a well-established culture of conservation that is evident in the many parks and preserves, the concern for soil conservation and wildlife shown by our farmers, the superior quality of rivers and streams and the preservation of farms, historic buildings and rural landscapes which add beauty and interest to our county.

The Winnebago County Forest Preserve District provides just under 10,000 acres of open space for the public’s enjoyment, and the Natural Land Institute (a 50-year-old not-for-profit organization) has protected, managed and restored more than 12,000 acres throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.


Over the past five years, government and the environmental community have partnered to accomplish the following:

A grant was acquired to develop a Green Communities Environmental Vision for the Rock River Valley.

The Four Rivers Environmental Coalition was formed, based on the Chicago Wilderness organization, bringing together environmental groups to work together and use resources more efficiently.

The Regional Greenways plan was updated to plan for future open space and natural resource preservation.


The Natural Land Institute developed the 720 acre Nygren Wetlands, re-meandering Raccoon Creek, now home to river otters, nesting sand hill cranes and bald eagles. NLI also acquired Pecatonica Ridge Prairie.

Environmental Education programs at Severson Dells, Atwood Park and CSA Learning Center, as well as school programs through Boylan Green Club and the Soil and Water District provide an important way to teach our future generations.

“City of Gardens” and the Rockford Park District Foundation are taking a leadership role in planting trees to enrich our community’s urban forest.


The Burpee Natural History Museum built the community’s first green roof, and the Rockford Park District is developing the Nicholas Conservatory in Sinnissippi Gardens, our first green building.

Winnebago County is developing Freedom Field, an alternative energy center.

A natural resource inventory is being conducted for the county.

Winnebago County is updating its Land Use Plan to 2030 using balanced growth principles that the community put in place during the county’s Balanced Growth Initiative. The goal is to create an eco-friendly community with concerned citizens who value our natural resources and work together to create a sustainable environmental future for our children and our grandchildren.


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