While the primary goal of Barrington Area Conservation Trust is to preserve private land through conservation easements, BACT accepts donations and land acquisitions through bargain sales that preserve critical open space.
Scot Thomas is an avid Vespa rider who loves to cruise the back roads of scenic areas like Barrington Hills. One day in the late 1990s he happened to be riding down Oak Knoll Road and he noticed a for sale sign on a property on the corner of Ridge and Oak Knoll Roads with an expansive view to the south. As an outdoors enthusiast, fisherman, and camper, he knew he wanted to own that property. So he purchased it, and today he and his wife Tiffany live on the beautiful expanse, which features a stately oak forest, a wetland, and a magnificent curve of Flint Creek winding through the back yard.
Unbeknownst to Scot when he purchased it, the estate was formerly owned by Jules Montenier, who was an inventor and cosmetic chemist. Montenier received a patent on modern-day anti-perspirant and created the product Stopette, whose slogan “Poof, there goes perspiration” was featured on What’s My Line in the 1950s. His second wife a botanical enthusiast who created a beautiful botanic garden on the property in the early 1960s, remnants of which can still be seen today. She also raised a herd of deer in the meadow and rare black swans on the pond.
Recently, Scot and Tiffany Thomas decided to donate 6.7 acres of the sprawling property to BACT, which includes the pond and the botanic garden remnants, in honor of Scot’s daughter, Katie. The property will be called Katie’s Marsh. BACT will acquire the property and begin restoration on the site, beginning with the portion along Ridge Road. Scot and Tiffany will maintain their home – and their view – on the site.
“I really love the story of this land and how the previous owner created an oasis on it,” says Scot. “When we moved here we really appreciated the open spaces and the vista, and we thought that donating this land would be a wonderful way to honor Katie and to give back to the community.”
Far Field Nature Preserve
Named for its “far” distance from the home of Steve and Mary Smith, Far Field is a 12-acre field that hasn’t seen oak trees or wildflowers for generations. BACT executive director Lisa Woolford researched the property using pre-settlement survey data, discovered this valuable buffer zone to Spring Creek had once been an oak savanna, and recommended steps to restore the site to its native glory. Restoration work began at the end of 2014. “It will remain a peaceful place for people to drive past and to traverse on horseback,” says Mary Smith, thinking of how the beautiful savanna will further enhance the community she treasures.
Pederson Preserve a 5.6-acre parcel of land adjacent to Flint Creek at the southwest corner of Lake-Cook and Hart Roads which connects more than 20 acres of prairie and wetlands owned by PepsiCo Research and Development Technical Center to the east with another five-acre conservation easement held by BACT to the west.
Purchased by BACT from the Grace H. Schurecht Trust in a *bargain sale (priced below the appraised value of the property funds for the purchase) funds were provided by a generous grant from Frederica “Freddie” Smith Pederson and BACT’s “Save Our Countryside” Fund. The property is named the “Pederson Preserve” in honor of Freddie’s late husband, Keith Pederson, who was a distinguished Barrington citizen.
Barrington Hills High Schools students and teachers, volunteers from the community, and Boy Scouts have been helping restore and improve this preserve since 2011.
Jack David Mondschine Wildlife Conservation Area
Jack David Mondschine Wildlife Cosnervation Area is a 5.28-acre wooded ravine with an intermittent stream corridor located on the northwest edge of Barrington Hills. Naming the preserve in honor of her father, donor Jenese Busch saw it as “a place where animals can freely come and seek shelter without fear of being injured by human activity.”
The Brothers’ Preserve
In 2011, Stephen, Christopher, David and Harold Byron Smith donated this 8-acre property to the Barrington Area Conservation Trust. We are so thankful for this donation that serves as a buffer property to the Spring Lake Illinois Nature Preserve, designated as one of the highest quality nature preserves in the state.
The Spring Lake preserve is part of the nearly 4,000 acre Spring Creek Forest Preserve, owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, which has been identified as an Important Bird Area by Audubon Chicago Region. The preserve is home to threatened grassland and shrubland bird species including Henslow Sparrow, Dickcissel, Bob-o-link, and Eastern Meadowlark. The Brothers’ Preserve adds additional breathing room for these birds that require significant open space in order to breed.
The Brothers’ Preserve also provide permanent protection of the bridle path that runs through the property, keeping the open space equestrian character of the land in tact for all time.
*Note: In a bargain sale, the seller donates the difference in value between the appraised value and the purchase price as a charitable contribution.