Winnebago County

Carl & Myrna Nygren Wetland

This property is owned by the Natural Land Institute (NLI) of Rockford. It is open to the public 365 days per year. A parking lot is located at the intersection of Rockton Road and Hansberry Road west of Rockton. The parking lot is owned by Rockton Township, not NLI, and the township locks the gate in winter, because it doesn’t plow the snow in the lot. But, you can park by the gate if there is room to stay off of the highway, which is difficult with all of the heavy snow this winter. A loop trail (The Dianne Nora Nature Trail) runs 2.5 miles around the marsh and along Raccoon Creek. Cross-country skiing is good here in the winter.

The Natural Land Institute is restoring prairies, woodlands and wetlands to this beautiful land west of Rockton along Raccoon Creek and the Rock and Pecatonica rivers. In the summer, blossoms of wild bergamot, sunflowers and gray-headed coneflower create a purple and yellow ocean of color stretching from the scenic bluff in the north to the rivers in the south. Wildlife species, including migrating waterfowl and songbirds, are returning in abundance. NLI purchased the 721-acre preserve in 2000 using a generous gift left to us in Carl Nygrens will.

Both migrating and dabbling ducks are found here like Northern Shoveler, Blue- and Green-winged Teal, and Northern Pintail.

Game birds Ring-necked Pheasant and Wild Turkey can both be found here.

A variety of wetland birds are present in spring and summer including American White Pelican, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Egret, Green Heron, and Sandhill Crane. A Tri-colored Heron spent a few days here in June 2013.

Red-headed Woodpeckers can be seen in the area of restored oak savannah, which is about 500 feet to the east of the parking lot along the trail.