Six area groups share in conservation grants

Six groups in northwestern Illinois are among 26 statewide sharing in more than $1.9 million in grants to local units of government, education, environmental and conservation organizations through the Conservation 2000 (C2000) Ecosystems Program.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich said the grants will be used to help restore more than 4,800 acres of forest, prairie and wetland habitat and acquire interest in more than 230 acres of land for conservation purposes. In addition, the grants will enable more than 13,000 students to participate in educational programs and projects focusing on the benefits of habitat restoration and protection.

“From restoring prairie grasses and stabilizing streambanks to developing educational programs that benefit thousands of students, the projects supported by these grants will have long-term benefits for the wildlife, plants and watershed resources in all parts of Illinois,” the governor said.

“The C2000 grant program helps local citizens and organizations improve environmental quality and the quality of life in their communities,” Blagojevich said.

Over the span of the program, the C2000 Ecosystems Program has awarded more than $28.7 million in grants, leveraging an additional $31.5 million in local matching funds and in-kind contributions for a total of $60.2 million for more than 700 projects throughout the state.

The program has assisted in restoring more than 62,000 acres of habitat, while more than 6,200 acres have been acquired or placed in conservation easements to provide long term protection. Education programs regarding habitat enhancement have included participation by more than 400,000 citizens and school children.

Northwestern Illinois grants:

• Driftless Area Partnership, in Jo Daviess and Carroll counties: The Prairie Enthusiasts, $140,045. Roberts Restoration Project. The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) will acquire fee simple title to 45 acres, which they will restore to tall grass prairie. Following restoration an easement on the land will be donated to Natural Land Institute. The property is adjacent to TPE’s Hanley Savanna and within the area of concern for the ongoing Hanover Bluffs Restoration Project. This acquisition will further establish a natural corridor connecting Lost Mound National Wildlife Refuge with Hanover Bluffs.

• Kishwaukee River Partnership, in McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, DeKalb and Ogle counties: McHenry County Conservation Foundation, $56,028. Pleasant Grove Savanna and Prairie Restoration. This project will provide funding to restore 70 acres of lowland prairie, sedge meadow, dry gravel hill prairie, and oak savanna along the southern and eastern portions of MCCD’s Pleasant Valley Conservation Area. Directly adjacent to an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory site, this project will expand upon extensive restoration work completed during the last 10 years.

• Lower Rock River Partnership, in Lee, Whiteside, Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, Ogle and Carroll counties: Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District, $10,500. Ryan Wetland and Sand Prairie Restoration. The Ryan Wetland and Sand Prairie, owned by the Lee County SWCD, provides critical habitat for state-listed and other area-sensitive species. The site is degraded by invasive tree and brush growth. This project will restore rare prairie and wetland resources by invasive species removal, seed harvesting and prescribed burning.

• Rock River Partnership, in Ogle County: Byron Forest Preserve District, $62,121. Invasive Woody Vegetation Removal in the Rock River Partnership. Funds will be used for mechanical removal of exotic and native woody vegetation in natural areas throughout the Rock River Partnership. They will also help to restore the native landscape of prairies, wetlands and oak savannas, and to develop healthier natural communities.

• Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Partnership, in Carroll, JoDaviess, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties: Ecological Services, $69,275. Survey to identify significant wildlands in the Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Area. Ecological Services will identify wildlands of local, regional and statewide significance in the Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Area. Sites will be identified primarily by interpreting infrared aerial photography. The survey will support efforts to protect and restore natural lands and waters.

• Upper Rock River, in Boone, Stephenson and Winnebago counties: Roscoe Township, $42,188.50. Kinnikinnick Creek Prairie Restoration. This project will restore a permanently protected, 21-acre tract of floodplain and dry prairie along the Stone Bridge Nature Trail. This restoration will protect the water quality of South Kinnikinnick Creek and enhance prairie that spans over the property with Bull’s coral-drops and a neighboring designated natural area with threatened prairie brush-clover.

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