Sand-Prairie Scrub Oak Nature Preserve is located near the town of Bath in Mason County in west-central Illinois, just east of the Illinois River. This preserve contains dry sand prairie, dry sand savanna and dry sand forest ? rare ecosystems in the state which offer habitat for various wildlife. Little bluestem, goats rue, eastern prickly pear cactus and porcupine grass characterize the sand prairie. Blackjack and black oaks plus mockernut and black hickories are present in the forest. Due to the arid nature of the soils, these trees remain small and scrubby, allowing praire plants to grow in the understory.
The site was dedicated as a state nature preserve in 1970.
The breedng bird community on this site includes Lark Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker, Grasshopper Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, Eastern Towhee and Blue Grosbeak. A large contingent of neotropical migrants also use this property.
This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for breeding Red-headed Woodpecker.
Black locust, a native, but weedy tree species, and garlic mustard, a non-native plant are taking over the native communities and need to be controlled.
A sandy substrate dominates this ecosystem of forest, scrub and prairie. Characteristic plants include prickly pear cactus and porcupine in the sand prairie and black oak and mockernut hickory in the forest.