People sometimes ask, “Why are you cutting down trees?”.
“When European settlers first began moving westward from the eastern States, they encountered large expanses devoid of trees but covered with a sea of tall grasses and wildflowers undulating in the wind. The settlers adopted the French word ‘prairie’” (Robertson, 2008).
The Indian Boundary Prairies are remnant prairies, meaning that the grasses and plants growing there have always been there. When you hear the term ‘restoration’, it means that we are restoring the prairie to its original form by removing exotic and invasive species. Trees, especially trees such as buckthorn, were brought here from outside of the United States and are considered exotic (non-native). These trees and shrubs are a detriment to the prairies. They not only take the place of plants and grasses that would be growing there, they shade out and prevent the native plants and grasses from growing. They do not belong on the prairies. Our restoration efforts include the removal of trees and shrubs, both by mechanical means (cutting) and by the use of specialty herbicides (spraying). When trees and shrubs have been removed, the prairie plants and grasses (which have a long root system and viable seed bank), are allowed sunlight and space to grow. Although the common conception is that all plant life is good, the ultimate goal of the Indian Boundary Prairies is to restore these areas to their natural state so that natural forms of plant life can once again be represented.
Robertson, K. (2008). The Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois. Retrieved from http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/tallgrass.html
Bird count for The Indian Boundary Prairies
Fire on the Prairie