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Forest Preserves of Winnebago County Receives Grant for Endangered Species Habitat Improvement

  In July 2017, Forest Preserves of Winnebago County received $5,500 in funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFW). Grant funds will enable degraded hill prairie to be converted to high quality pollinator habitat. The grant project will restore 15 acres of habitat at Kieselburg Forest Preserve for the rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis), recently added to the federal endangered species list.
Forest Preserves of Winnebago County’s Natural Resource Manager, Mike Groves, says, “It is a big boost to our restoration efforts to receive these funds recently made available for projects focused on habitat for the rusty-patched bumble bee. Thanks to FPWC’s Citizen Science program, we have documentation of Bombus affinis at Kieselburg, which qualifies this site for the grant.”
Work will begin in September to cut back invasive plants, remove woody material, mulch, and prepare the area for planting with a diverse mix of prairie grasses and forbs, including milkweeds, in spring of 2018. The clearing and planting is expected to be complete by fall 2018, with ongoing habitat management to continue for several years.
The PFW Program is the private lands program of the USFWS and works exclusively with private landowners, partner agencies, and non-governmental organizations to restore and enhance wildlife habitat on private lands. USFWS PFW program offers the technical assistance and, when the goals of the partners align with those of the Service, cost-share assistance to get habitat projects done. “The project at Kieselburg is one of those projects because it has the chance to benefit the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee,” explains Andrew DiAllesandro, Private Lands Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “In addition to the rusty-patched bumble bee, this project will also benefit migratory song birds, the monarch butterfly, resident wildlife, and other pollinators.”