Lake County is home to more biodiversity, including more endangered and threatened species, than any other county in Illinois.
In the face of a changing climate, protecting and restoring Lake County’s natural resources is more important than ever. Donors to the Preservation Foundation help the Forest Preserves do more to protect the flora and fauna of Lake County while also protecting opportunities for recreation and enjoyment.
Oak Woodland Regeneration along the Southern Des Plaines River:
The Lake County Forest Preserve District is in a long-term effort to restore our oak woodlands. Part of our strategy includes a phased plan to increase light levels in the understory by removing canopy trees. The goal is to improve conditions for natural oak regeneration, improve habitat for woodland birds and amphibians and increase the diversity of native shrubs, grasses, sedges, and flowers in the ground layer. Over time, monitoring will continue to advance our understanding of how to restore our oak woodlands.
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Wildlife Conservation and Reintroduction:
The Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is a long-lived, semi-aquatic turtle in decline throughout much of its range. The species was designated as endangered in the state of Illinois in 2009. Along with our partners, we began monitoring Blanding’s turtle populations in Lake county in 2004. Modeling indicated a population is in decline due to low juvenile recruitment combined with unsustainable levels of adult mortality. In an effort to address the decline, we instituted the Blanding’s Turtle Recovery Program in 2010, which includes—among other strategies—head-starting approximately 100 turtle hatchlings annually.
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Native Seed Nursery:
Rare and hard-to-collect seeds of different native species are carefully grown at the Native Seed Nursery, located within Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve. The nursery gives our restoration ecologists access to these rare plants that were previously cost prohibitive or unavailable in the marketplace. We use the plants grown here to restore native habitat at many of our preserves.
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