Point of Beginning

Urbana man has created his own nature preserve

May 27, 2008
Robert Vaiden, of the Illinois State Geological Survey, has labored for two decades to restore the natural diversity and color to his 1-acre lot to resemble what land surveyors first recorded over 200 years ago. 
 
 


By Kirby Pringle
 
Saturday, May 24, 2008 8:06 AM CDT
 
URBANA – Nearly 200 years ago, a land surveyor and his crew walked along the south edge of Big Grove and recorded oaks, hickories, American hazel, spicebush and loads of wildflowers.
 
Today, visitors can see pretty much the same thing as they walk around the home of Robert and Judy Vaiden, which sits on a 1-acre lot in east Urbana.
 
"I've tried to turn my property into what it looked like 200 years ago," Vaiden says. "We would have been standing on what was the south edge of the Big Grove. The timber here was broken, with open areas, so there would have been prairie plants as well as the woodland plants."
 
Land surveys in what was to become Illinois started in 1804 and continued well into statehood in the 1850s. ...