The passage of the Illinois Land Conservation Act in 1996 enshrined a solution. Nineteen thousand acres were converted into protected prairie land, where 73 head of bison currently roam. The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, the country’s second-largest military cemetery, was also established.
It was a major victory. “What happened was the community organized, they resisted and they won,” Clack told me. “But there’s a round two.” Once news broke of Elwood’s refusal, the developer submitted an application with the Will County board, hoping to override local authority. Hearings will begin again sometime in 2019.