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FPWC Receives Grant from Illinois Department of Natural Resources for Habitat Restoration

Forest Preserves of Winnebago County Receives Funding from Illinois Department of Natural Resources for Habitat Restoration

 Forest Preserves of Winnebago County, along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFW), local Pheasants Forever and Trout Unlimited chapters, and Illinois Farm Bureau was recently awarded $90,860 in funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for habitat improvement. Funds will be used to restore and enhance 384 acres at five forest preserves for the purpose of improving habitat for the federally endangered rusty-patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis, RPBB). The RPBB has been documented at all five sites. In addition to the RPBB, these projects will benefit the monarch butterfly and other native pollinator species, grassland songbirds, forest dwelling bird species, and overall ecosystem health.

Habitat enhancement activities will be carried out by Forest Preserves of Winnebago County (FPWC) staff and volunteers, as well as members of Winnebago County and DuPage County Pheasants Forever chapters and members of the Oakbrook (IL) Trout Unlimited chapter between spring 2019 and spring 2021.

Beginning in 2017, FPWC and the PFW Program partnered to begin recovery efforts for RPBB at Kieselburg Forest Preserve. As more attention has been brought to the plight of pollinators, more partners have joined the effort to help FPWC manage and improve its lands to conserve this species.

The $90,860 grant from the IDNR is the fourth grant FPWC has received for rusty-patched bumblebee habitat improvements. Beginning in 2017, a total of $118,860 in grant funds has been awarded for habitat restoration and enhancement at various forest preserves.

According to FPWC Executive Director, Mike Holan, “this influx of funds to support FPWC’s natural areas restoration and management program is unprecedented. We are truly grateful to our conservation partners for providing resources to achieve our core mission of providing high quality habitat at a time when the need is more imperative than ever.”

Tom Hartley, Forest Preserves of Winnebago County’s Director of Land Development, explains, “Our partnership was uniquely positioned to qualify for these grants to support the rusty-patched bumblebee. Recent bumblebee monitoring has documented Winnebago County as having one of the highest concentrations of known RPBB populations in Illinois outside the Chicago collar counties.”