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  • Habitat Strike Team

    The most recent arm of NGRREC’s conservation program, the Southern Illinois Habitat Strike Team, was created by an agreement between NGRREC and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).  Our Strike Team focuses on the management of private lands enrolled in IDNR’s Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP), which incentivizes private landowners to allow public recreational activities on their property. The best incentive for landowners to enroll in the program is cost-shared habitat management work conducted by our Habitat Strike Team.

    The Strike Team works within a 90-mile radius of the NGRREC field station and coordinates with IRAP to eradicate invasive species (e.g. bush honeysuckle), conduct timber stand improvement, and administer prescribed burns on private lands enrolled in the program. 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 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.

    The Strike Team is also helping IDNR collect monitoring data on the effectiveness of aerial herbicidal spraying of bush honeysuckle. While still in the pilot stages, this practice appears to be an efficient and cost-effective measure to treat areas heavily infested with bush honeysuckle. The aerial spraying project has set the stage for future research collaborations with IDNR and will provide an analysis framework for future NGRREC summer interns.