Habitat Strike Team
The Southern Illinois Habitat Strike Team was created by an agreement between NGRREC and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in 2015. Our Strike Team originally focused on the management of private lands enrolled in IDNR’s Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP), which incentivizes private landowners to allow public recreational activities, such as hunting, on their property. One of the best incentive for landowners to enroll in the program is cost-shared habitat management work conducted by our Habitat Strike Team.
Since 2019, the Strike Team has diversified its IDNR funding sources and partners which as allowed the team to work on public IDNR sites and even unique and high quality IDNR Nature Preserves. Partnerships have developed and strengthened particularly between the Great Rivers Land Trust, IDNR Nature Preserves Commission, The Nature Institute and the Lewis and Clark Foundation Board.
The Strike Team generally works within a 90-mile radius of the NGRREC field station and coordinates with IRAP and IDNR Division of Natural Heritage to eradicate invasive species (e.g. bush honeysuckle), conduct timber stand improvement, plant native seedlings, and administer prescribed burns on private lands and public properties such as Pere Marquette State Park. These practices are designed to improve the health of the ecosystem, promote the growth and reproduction of native plant communities, benefit wildlife, and restore habitats to a native state.
The Strike Team fulfills the education objectives of NGRREC as well, by facilitating research opportunities for NGRREC summer interns and assisting with educational opportunities for Lewis and Clark Community College’s Restoration Ecology and Environmental Science program. These students and interns gain valuable experience working with the Strike Team. They are able to learn about restoration practices, management techniques, and ecology of our native ecosystems. NGRREC research interns are exposed to restoration ecology but also learn about wildlife monitoring practices associated with habitat management.