Restoration of important natural habitat at the Lake County Forest Preserves’ Spring Bluff Nature Preserve will proceed thanks to grant funds received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Stewardship Program (SOGL).
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced $874,081 in grant funding to support the Coastal Wetlands Restoration for Species of Concern project. Part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, this project will protect, restore and enhance important habitats along Lake Michigan in Illinois and Wisconsin.
This grant will allow the Lake County Forest Preserves and local partners to enhance wildlife habitat by controlling invasive plants across 690 acres of wetland and prairie at Spring Bluff, Chiwaukee Prairie and Illinois Beach State Park.
Additionally, this grant will fund basic wildland fire training to local partners and municipalities to increase the trained personnel available for controlled burn management of Lake Plain natural areas. The grant also will provide for purchase of tools and equipment for volunteer stewardship groups and will help partners with the design and installation of educational signage across the 4000-acre Lake Plain which will highlight the interconnectedness of these coastal areas.
This is an opportunity for the Lake County Forest Preserves to continue their partnership with agencies and municipalities from two different states, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Nature Conservancy, the Village of Pleasant Prairie, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the Illinois State Geological Survey, ComEd, the Friends of Illinois Beach, the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund, and Howard Mansville.
“This is a great example of federal government and local conservation organizations cooperating to protect unique natural resources of Lake Michigan,” said Ann Maine, President of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “This grant will support vital work that will help restore health to the Great Lakes basin. The Forest Preserve District is committed to protecting and restoring habitat for the many endangered and threatened species that live in Lake County and affect the surrounding areas.”
The Great Lakes are considered some of the most important natural resources in the world. They provide drinking water for tens of millions of people and support a huge diversity of plants and wildlife, including hundreds of globally rare species. This immense network of unique habitat types provides vital ecological services, such as flood control, carbon storage and water filtration.
Despite their size and importance, the Great Lakes have been significantly degraded by human activity. The Sustain Our Great Lakes Program was established to address ecological threats and improve the health of the Great Lakes basin. The program is a public-private partnership with ArcelorMittal, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Spring Bluff Nature Preserve, part of the Chiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain, connects 14 community types and provides habitat for over 500 plant and 300 animal species, including 63 state- and four federally-listed species. Grant funds will be used for removal of invasive species, to re-establish native plant communities, to minimize flow of storm water into high quality wetlands, and to increase populations of threatened and endangered species through enhancement of the surrounding habitats.
For more information about other habitat restoration projects, or for free trail maps, a calendar of events or other publications, call 847-367-6640.