More than 90 percent of Illinois is privately-owned. It is evident that to provide more habitat for fish and wildlife, habitat restoration efforts need to be focused on private land. In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began an innovative program to assist private landowners with habitat restoration on their own lands. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners.
The Partners Program has worked extensively with U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, county and local governments, and private conservation organizations in enhancing, restoring, and protecting a variety fish and wildlife habitats on private land. The Partners Program presently has cooperative agreements with Illinois DNR and Ducks Unlimited for habitat restoration and enhancement throughout the State.
In the Chicago area, the Partners Program restoration projects benefit not only the fish and wildlife resources of the greater Chicago area but the millions of human residents as well.
- Wetland restoration.
- Grassland restoration.
- Stream bank stabilization.
- Riparian restoration.
- Restoration and enhancement of threatened and endangered species habitat.
- Technical assistance to USDA.
- Outreach programs.
Habitats of Special Concern
Wetlands remain the primary focus of the Partners Program in Illinois because of their importance to Federal trust species, specifically migratory birds and wetland species listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. Many wetlands in the State have been modified by ditching or draining for farming and other agricultural activities.
All but 1 percent of the tallgrass prairies in Illinois present before European settlement have been converted to agriculture. This loss of grassland habitat has negatively affected many migratory grassland nesting birds and other wildlife.
The Chicago area had extremely diverse floral and faunal communities before European settlement. The mixture of tallgrass prairie, wetland, savanna, and woodland communities that once existed in northeastern Illinois are now a small fraction of the landscape. However, some ecosystems, now considered globally rare or imperiled still thrive in Chicago. The Chicago region is one of a handful of metropolitan areas in the world that has a high concentration of globally significant natural communities. The region includes some of the best surviving examples of eastern tallgrass prairie and open oak woodlands or savannas, and it supports many rare plants and animals, including nearly 200 species listed as endangered or threatened in Illinois. Less than 1 percent of Illinois’ tallgrass prairie, and even smaller fragments of natural oak savannas remain, making these grassland and woodland communities even more rare than the tropical rain forests. Not all lands in Illinois have been touched by a plow. Chicago planners began in 1915 to set aside land to preserve the flora and fauna of the region. Today about 200,000 acres of natural land has been protected throughout the greater Chicago area. These areas not only conserve the biodiversity of the region, but also offer city dwellers the chance to experience nature just a few minutes from their doorstep.
Fens are wetlands that are created and maintained by the continuous, internal flow of mineral-rich groundwater from bordering upland rock formations and other recharge areas. Fens support many plants uniquely adapted to high concentrations of alkaline minerals.
These are forested wetland areas on nearly level soils that have an impermeable layer creating a shallow, perched water table. Flatwoods provide important breeding grounds for amphibians. Flatwoods are extremely rare and are considered globally imperilled.
Dolomite prairies differ from other prairies because they grow on top of limestone bedrock formations. The soils are very thin and alkaline and support a different assemblage of plants than other prairie soils. This is a very rare community type and much of it has been lost to limestone mining and other development. The Chicago area has some of the best remaining examples and provides habitat for the federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly.
Savanna is typically an upland oak forest community with an open canopy cover and an understory of prairie plants. Periodic fires help maintain the unique nature of this habitat type. Many of the oak savannas have been turned in to row crops and pastures.
REMINDER: This listing is a free service of LandCAN.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Illinois is not employed by or affiliated with the Land Conservation Assistance Network, and the Network does not certify or guarantee their services. The reader must perform their own due diligence and use their own judgment in the selection of any professional.
Contact Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Illinois
1 Natural Resources Way
Springfield, Illinois 62702 Phone: