In pre-settlement times the State of Illinois included more than 22 million acres of native prairie habitat. Today there is only about 2000 acres of this naturally occurring native habitat remaining.
The restored prairie sites here at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory now contain approximately 1000 acres of restored prairie currently the largest restored prairie habitat in the world.
Due to the efforts of many dedicated individuals, most notably Dr. Robert Betz and Raymond Schulenberg, originators of Fermilab's restoration project begun in 1971, and groups like the Prairie Committee, comprised of Fermilab employees and volunteers, and the ongoing dedicated work of the Roads and Grounds department, awareness about the fate of one of our countries natural heritage's is continually increasing.
Today, due to the renewed awareness that has come from the many environmental education programs and efforts sponsored and originated by Fermilab and other interested parties, an increasing number of individuals and institutions are becoming involved in the efforts to study, restore, and maintain this important natural resource.
One of the results of this new awareness is that many groups are expressing interest in the possibility of restoring small parcels of land to native prairie habitat. Restoration of this type has many benefits, from purely aesthetic reasons to environmentally important ones like increasing the biodiversity of our native plant species and the conservation of our disappearing topsoil.
What better way to achieve these outcomes than to use our native prairie species. These plants are biologically adapted to grow well in their native environment. These adaptations also enable these plants to grow and thrive with just the minimal amount human intervention.
It is with these factors in mind that I have prepared this report on how to restore parcels of land to native prairie habitat.