Illinois Wildlife Action Plan
- Article number 1
Farmland and Prairie Campaign
- Article number 2
Forest and Woodlands Campaign
- Article number 3
Green Cities Campaign
- Article number 4
Invasive Species Campaign
- Article number 5
- Article number 6
The Illinois Wildlife Action Plan is not just an inventory of species, but a plan to address the particular needs of wildlife that are declining. About 60 percent of Illinois, approximately 22 million acres, once was prairie. Now about 2,500 acres remain. Most of the land once occupied by prairie is now farmland. Not surprisingly, grassland species have experienced steep declines. The Farmland and Prairie Campaign is working to expand and improve grassland, shrub, and wetland habitats in agricultural landscapes. Partners in this campaign include a broad spectrum of public and private conservation groups. Biologists from the Illinois Audubon Society, Illinois DNR, Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service, Chicago Audubon, Pheasants Forever/ Quail Forever, The Nature Conservancy, and University of Illinois comprise the campaign’s implementation team.
Challenges to managing and conserving forest and woodland habitats in Illinois stem from a current aberrant removal of natural disturbance processes, including natural flooding regimes and fire. Forest and woodland management planned without professional assistance along with inappropriate timber harvest practices are contributing to changing forest composition and further degradation of the remaining forest habitat. The campaign seeks to maintain and enhance the composition of Illinois’ existing forested habitats and to increase distribution of those habitats in identified priority areas and statewide with many conservation partners.
In recent years, Illinois’ population and development have primarily occurred in suburban areas on the fringes of larger metropolitan areas. The trend it to have larger houses and lot sizes, which increases the amount of developed land and degrades and fragments already limited wildlife habitat. Many urban areas experience flooding, water quality impairments, exposure to invasive species, and other pollution through heat and atmospheric pollutants. The Green Cities Campaign is working to improve community planning efforts by include open space and wildlife needs into the plans. Additionally, the Campaign is addressing urban area use in migration routes, and promoting habitat protection and restoration whenever possible. Partners in the Green Cities Campaign include Illinois DNR, Conservation Districts, Forest Preserve Districts, County Governments, Chicago Wilderness, and Chicago Metropolitan Area Planning.
Invasive species pose one of the greatest threats to Illinois’ natural areas, native communities, and natural resources. Species that are rare or declining are often at greatest risk of invasive species because of their few numbers or inability to adapt to changes in habitat. In Illinois, 62% of the wildlife species determined to be in greatest need of conservation are threatened, at least in part, by invasive species. Coordination of management efforts across a landscape is vital to effectively addressing these invasive species, detecting new infestations, and reducing redundancy. In Illinois, the Wildlife Action Plan (IWAP) sets goals and actions for conservation across the state, including an Invasive Species Campaign (ISC). The ISC identifies those actions determined to be most needed for statewide management of all groups of invasive species.
At the dawn of the 20th century, most of Illinois’ 26,000 miles of stream sand rivers has sinuous courses with associated rich marshes and swamps. The stream banks were lined with protective vegetation that reduced the likelihood of bank failures and heavy erosion. Since then, agriculture and development have drastically reduced the health of our streams. The Streams Campaign is working to identify focal species and promote actions that improve habitats and reduce stressors for these species. The Steering Committee of this campaign is comprised of passionate staff from US Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois DNR, Illinois EPA, Illinois IDOT, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Sierra Club, Isaac Walton League, The Nature Conservancy, Open Lands, and Illinois Natural History Survey.
Wetlands were once a dominant feature of the Illinois landscape played a large role in reducing flooding, recharging groundwater supplies, and filtering pollutants and nutrients. Natural wetlands are highly productive environments for plants and animals, but those remaining in Illinois have been highly degraded. The Wetlands Campaign is working to protect and improve functionality of remaining wetlands, promote connectivity among wetland complexes with habitat corridors, and reintroduce native species into wetland habitats. Partners in the Wetlands Campaign include: Illinois DNR, Ducks Unlimited, Illinois Natural History Survey, and Southern Illinois University.
Conserving wildlife makes Illinois a better place for everyone. The Illinois Wildlife Action Plan
benefits the health of wildlife and people; enhances our quality of life; fulfills our responsibilities to conserve wildlife and the places they live for our children; and, provides a cost effective investment by protecting species before they become critically rare, which strengthens our state economy. Important services of the plan include:
- Conservation of wildlife and habitat, thereby protecting clean water and air-making both wildlife and people healthier;
- Identification and prevention of problems before they threaten wildlife and affect humans, as wildlife often are early indicators of disease and pollution;
- Conservation of wildlife and natural places that bring peace and relaxation to our busy lives, and are important to many of our family traditions;
- An outline of actions developed by scientists, sportsmen, conservationists and members of the community working together;
- Documentation of the importance of non-consumptive wildlife recreation activities, which are enjoyed by more than 2.6 million Illinoisans, have an annual economic impact of about $1.3 billion and support more than 13,000 jobs.