There are now over 1,200 acres involved in the restoration process. The project has had a significant impact on resource conservation at Fermilab and the surrounding community.
Prairies and wetlands naturally conserve water and prevent runoff and erosion, thereby helping aquifer levels, protecting topsoil and reducing the extent of flooding. The ecosystems that are being built and enriched maintain and protect many native plant and animal habitats. As these habitats improve, increased numbers of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects appear.
Animals that were rarely, if ever seen before the restoration project, are now becoming common place. Birds include, herons, egrets, sandhill cranes, woodcocks, upland sandpipers, snipes, vireos, bob-o-links, hawks, vultures, and an occasional bald eagle, among others. Mammals include, foxes, coyotes, deer, mink, weasels, and even a few badgers have been seen on site for the first time in a generation. Several blanding’s turtles, on the state’s endangered list, have also been seen.
Experts say that less than one tenth of one percent of the Illinois prairie remains in its original condition. Many of the prairie plant species, both grasses and forbes, have never been seen by most of the general public. These plants are now flourishing in the prairie areas currently being restored and enriched at Fermilab.
Program Contact: Mike Becker