Controlled Burn Training at Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary

SATURDAY, MARCH 5, 2022 AT 10 AM – 4 PM

Reservations are required for all events; call 217-525-1410 to reserve your place or for more information. We are limiting participants to 25. Please bring a mask for the classroom portion of the burn training.

Learn about all aspects of controlled burns, including weather and appropriate conditions, coordinating with local officials, performing burns, how to use equipment, safety and clothing. This will be a full day, so bring a lunch. Appropriate clothing includes leather boots, no synthetic materials, long pants and long sleeves, gloves. Anyone dressed inappropriately will not be allowed to participate in the field portion.

One of the most important management tools is fire used in a controlled manner. We use controlled burns for prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. Classroom session covers principles and practices, including weather conditions, safe practices, equipment, and fire behavior. Field practice to follow, weather permitting.

Chainsaw Workshops at Adams Wildlife Sanctuary – Beginner (1pm) & Advanced (10am)


Get ready to volunteer by sharpening your skills at free training workshops. Safety clothing will be available. Bring your own if you have it. Reservations are required for all events; call 217-525-1410. We are limiting participants to 25.

ADVANCED, FELLING & BUCKING 10am-noon, for those who already took a beginner course. You will learn techniques for dropping larger trees.

BEGINNER, ELECTRIC SAWS & SAFETY 1-2pm, if you have a chainsaw and want to know how to use it safely. We will cover chainsaw operation, safety, maintenance, battery-powered saws, and how to cut small trees and shrubs.

Thanks so much for your interest! Hopefully you’ll be volunteering on our work days. But if this is just to hone your skills to work your own, personal restoration project – you’re more than welcome to come!

Thanks to all our members, volunteers and donors who make training sessions like this possible.

Herbicide Training Sessions at Adams Wildlife Sanctuary and Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary


  • SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2022 AT 10 AM – 11:30 AM (Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary)
  • SATURDAY, JANUARY 8, 2022 AT 10 AM – 11:30 AM (Adams Wildlife Sanctuary)

This training session is required if you wish to volunteer using herbicides on FOSV properties or other properties we work on. A classroom session will be followed by field demonstrations (weather permitting). Wear closed-toe shoes or boots, long pants, long sleeves, and bring gloves.

Reservations are required for all events; call 217-525-1410 to reserve or for more information. We are limiting participants to 25. Please bring a mask for the classroom portion of the herbicide training.

Saturday 29 January at Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary near Loami.

Saturday 8 January at Adams Wildlife Sanctuary in Springfield.

Annual certification good for calendar year. The workshop is free. Contact Vernon LaGesse at 525.1410 with any questions.

Thanks to our members, volunteers and donors for making workshops like this available!

Donate to Friends of the Sangamon Valley

Are people starting to bug you, asking what you want for Christmas? How about a “share” of the 1,853 acres managed by the Friends of the Sangamon Valley? Or 579 acres of prairie as a butterfly garden? All they have to do is send a check to:

Friends of the Sangamon Valley

PO Box 13352

Springfield, IL 62791

You can also donate on Facebook at or via PayPal.

Solar Chariot Acoustic will headline Friends fall fundraiser Sunday, October 10 

Join us for an evening of music and friendship! Lake Beach House Fundraiser 4-8 pm Sunday Oct. 10th. $10 at the door. Headlined by Josie Lowder and her trio, Solar Chariot Acoustic.

Lowder continues to honor her Central Illinois roots, but she channels musical influences from around the globe including funk, jazz, bluegrass and soul. Her lifelong musical journey includes receiving a “golden ticket” in season 12 of American Idol, and serving as a musical instructor at the Boston School of Music Arts. She is appearing with her mother, vocalist Peggy Lowder, and guitar virtuoso Nate Cozzad as part of her current musical incarnation.

A food truck will be on hand, and guests are also welcome to bring their own food and beverages. The evening will also feature a silent auction of items, including an original painting of a short-eared owl by Kevin Viera. For more information, or to donate auction items, call 217-525-1410.

The Beach House is in Center Park, 100 Long Bay Drive, north of Lindsay Bridge and south of the Henson Robinson Zoo entrance. Go East on Stevenson Drive (East Lake Shore Drive as you cross Spaulding Dam and the lake). Go past Lincoln Greens to Long Bay Drive. Turn right on Long Bay Drive; and then left at the stop sign. Center Park is on your right. If you’re coming from the west, cross Linsday Bridge and take the first left into Center Park.

2020 Mushroom Workshop

The mushroom workshop is back at Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary 1pm March 21, 2020. Participants will learn the dos and don’ts of growing oyster and shiitake mushrooms from cottonwood and oak logs.

Everyone will get logs they will inoculate themselves. The Friends will provide the logs, mushroom plugs, and some power tools. Bring a hammer/mallet, and drill with 5/16th inch bit if you have it.

Space is limited and this is a popular workshop. Registration is required; call 217-525-1410 to register or for more information. $25 for members; $30 for non-members. Payment may be sent to FOSV, PO Box 13352, Springfield, IL 62791. Pay via PayPal.

The workshop starts at 1, if you are not present by 1:10, we will give your spot to the first person on the waiting list with your payment used as a donation to our conservation work.

To get to Nipper: From Springfield or Chatham, take E. Loami Rd. west to Lead Line Rd. Turn south (left) on Lead Line to Withers Rd. Turn west (right) on Withers. Go about a 1/2 mile until you see the entrance sign for the Sanctuary; parking lot on site. 9560 Withers Rd., Loami.

How Are Your Mushrooms Doing?

For the last several years, the Friends have held a workshop on growing Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms. Past participants have reported various degrees of success with their logs, but the logs at Friends HQ continue to sprout vast numbers of both types of mushrooms.

Many of Vern’s oyster mushrooms this year have been blue or had a bluish tinge to them. These get a darker grey after being picked and stored. They are fine and perfectly edible. Oysters will grow throughout the winter, as long as temperatures are above freezing.

If you’ve been having a hard time with your mushroom logs, remember, moisture is key. Get them wet. Turn the sprinkler on them if you need to; about 20-30 minutes at a time. Keep them in the shade. Don’t let them dry out. And don’t give up. The effort is well worth it.

Nipper Water Quality Study Final Report Released

After a year and a half of data collection and another year or two of planning prior to that, the first phase of the Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary water quality study has been completed. Lochmueller Group produced a summary report discussing the data, what it might indicate, and provided recommendations for continuing the study.

Based on 2016 sampling by the Sangamon County Soil and Water Conservation District, which showed reduction in nitrate from the outlet to Lick Creek compared to the wetland by the nature center, we wanted to expand the study to see if the Nipper wetlands were preventing nutrients from neighboring agricultural lands getting into Lick Creek. This would have a positive effect on the water quality in the Lake Springfield watershed. So in 2018, the Nipper Foundation, with assistance from the Brandt Foundation and The Friends of the Sangamon Valley, embarked on a formal water quality study of run off from the agricultural fields, wetlands, and outflow from the wetlands to Lick Creek.

Nipper Water Quality Study Final Report

In our first 18 months, we’ve found that the outflow concentrations from the last wetland are substantially lower than the inputs coming in from the agricultural field, especially for suspended solids, nitrogen, and phosphorus. We don’t yet have enough data to do a detailed quantitative evaluation, but what we’ve seen thus far has provided enough impetus to continue the study for at least another two years and possibly longer. A qualitative evaluation indicates anywhere from a 50-70% reduction in levels of nitrate, total nitrogen, and phosphorus as water passes through the wetland cells. This information is very preliminary and will certainly be modified as additional information is gathered.

The summary report, written by the Lochmueller Group’s Joe Bartletti and Bryan Cross, makes recommendations for additional sampling and provides suggestions for tweaking the sampling plan we’ve been using. More data is needed to gain a better understanding of the hydrology, the role that groundwater plays in the wetlands, and overall water budget. Standardizing the conditions under which samples will be taken and when samples are collected should help increase the usability of the data and help in comparisons from year-to-year or season-to-season.

We’re also initiating a similar study of the constructed wetlands on Mary Lou Tyner-Lael’s property in rural Morgan County. Mary Lou’s restoration is a different age than Nipper’s, the topography is different, and there is an additional wetland cell. It will be interesting to see how Nipper and the Lael property differ.

Thanks very much to Northwater for developing the sampling plan and training, to Lochmueller Group for pulling the data together and providing a final report, to Vern LaGesse, Charlene Falco, Mike Kennedy, Nick Klobuchar, and Jeanne Handy for helping with sample collection and lab analysis, to PDC Labs for sample analysis, and not least to the Nipper Foundation and Brandt Foundation for funding and support.