Alerts
Careers

Springdale Savanna

In the heart of Springdale Cemetery, one of central Illinois’ largest and most historic cemeteries, there is a small remnant of native tallgrass oak savanna.

This gorgeous cemetery also includes steep forested bluffs, tree-lined creeks, and a picturesque park like atmosphere

Fourteen acres of tall grass oak savanna, once dominant along the Illinois River Bluffs, has been restored inside Springdale Cemetery. Three-hundred-year-old trees provide a shady habitat in between large open areas of tall grasses, broad-leaved plants and shrubs. It is a natural community that developed with the recession of glaciers following the Pleistocene epoch 10,000 years ago. Similar conditions later greeted early French traders and explorers who came to Peoria in the 18th century.

The earliest reference to what may have been found in the savanna appears in Charles Ballance’s “1870: The History of Peoria, Illinois,” where he writes that “the march of improvement” has destroyed the natural landscape. Ballance commends the then-superintendent of Springdale Cemetery, Captain John H. Hall, and says he “has set apart a portion of that lovely place, which associates so much sadness and beauty, for the preservation of nature’s own flora.”

The Springdale savanna shelters many diverse and uncommon species. Thanks to hundreds of volunteer hours, the savanna has recovered some of its former glory. Further restoration of the native biological diversity continues.

In 2023, the Peoria Park District officially took ownership of the savanna and its surrounding wooded areas.  The acquisition ensures not only that the savanna will be spared from future development, but also that the public will have access to this ecological treasure. 

Our intent is that people will be able to visit the savanna for passive recreation, environmental education, and of course silent reflection. Over the past several decades, volunteers have put in countless hours restoring the savanna and keeping it in good ecological health. They have accomplished this through removing invasive species such as bittersweet and honeysuckle, and conducting prescribed burns. .

The Savanna is a beautiful site for your next hike! A moderate 2 mile loop is great for a walk or run. Dogs must be leashed.

From time to time, you’ll find that this location undergoes a Prescribed Burn. Our PPD team has determined the following parks would benefit from controlled burns as means of preserving rare and endangered habitats:

  • Camp Wokanda
  • Detweiller Park
  • Donovan Park
  • Forest Park
  • Grand View Drive Park
  • Robinson Park
  • Singing Woods Nature Preserve
  • Springdale Savanna
  • Sommer Farm

The controlled application of fire, under specific weather conditions, to restore a natural process, ensure ecosystem health and resiliency, and reduce wildfire risk. The Burn Crew are trained fire experts, aware of fire behavior and control techniques, that follow nationally set standards to ensure the safety of the crew, nearby residents and private property. Learn more about the importance of this by clicking the button below.

Find something
new to explore

Find Your Next Event Location!

Find Your Next Event Location!

Register for Youth Sports!

Register for Youth Sports!

Hit the Trails!

Hit the Trails!

Time for a Wild Adventure!

Time for a Wild Adventure!

Join our Team!

Join our Team!