The Illinois Audubon Society acquired the Hoberg Tract in 2013 for $1.9 million dollars. The 80-acre purchase was made possible by a generous $1.38 million dollar grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. The purchase price exceeds an all-time high in the Society’s history as a land trust. Pending the District’s receipt of an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant, the Society intends to sell the parcel to Joliet Park District (JPD) at a bargain-sale. The Hoberg Tract buffers Pilcher Park (413-acres) and is in immediate proximity to Highland Park (41-acres) and Higginbotham Woods (239-acres).
Pilcher Park is a Category 1 Natural Area Inventory Site (INAI), meaning the site hosts documented high quality natural communities. An appealing mix of graceful ravines, lush bottomland forest and small winding streams can be found in this area. Harlow Higginbotham, an important figure in Chicago during the late nineteenth century, once owned Pilcher Park. Higginbotham was the president of Chicago’s extremely successful Columbian Exposition in 1893. In 1920, Higginbotham sold the parcel to Robert Pilcher, a businessman and self-taught naturalist, who eventually donated his acreage of virgin woodland to the City of Joliet with the stipulation that the land be left wild.