Help Save the Hill Prairies

October 23, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

The hill prairies of Illinois are shrinking and at risk of being lost from the Illinois landscape forever. Hill prairies are home to several rare and endangered plants and animals, and they need our help to protect them from threats like brush and other weedy invasive plants. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves will be holding a volunteer stewardship workday event at Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve in Monroe County on November 6th from 11 am to 2 pm. Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves invite everyone to enjoy a day of conservation and learning about the unique Hill Prairie complex located on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources owned property in Fults, Illinois.

Volunteers work to remove woody invasive species on a glade at Fults Hill Prairie NP. Photo courtesy Marty Kemper.

The Illinois Nature Preserves System was established by state law in 1963. These lands and their rare and endangered species represent thousands of years of heritage and millions of years of evolution. They are crucial resources for the future. Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve was dedicated as a Nature Preserve on October 1970 and has been studied and cherished by a network of agencies, scientists, and outdoors enthusiasts. The site was integral in the conservation movement that resulted in the region. Other smaller hill prairies were subsequently protected along the bluff corridor in Monroe and Randolph Counties. The beautiful site has the largest complex of high-quality loess hill prairies in Illinois and includes a 1.4-mile loop trail through the hill prairies, glades, and woodlands. Enjoy the view, blue skies, and wind scented by the fragrance of the plains lady’s tress orchid. The event will include an orientation to the ecology of the hill prairies and training on how to care for them – and then we will get to work!  Managing a site like Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve takes dedicated managers and many partners to ensure its success. Without persistent management hill prairies are at risk of being lost from the landscape. This event provides an opportunity to join the network of people that protect this nature preserve.

CLIFFTOP, a local nonprofit organization, is focused on preserving and protecting area bluff lands.

A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2021 edition of the Republic-Times.

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