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WILD ILLINOIS

Shawnee

DNR Advocacy

Hackmatack

Restoration




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OVERVIEW

Illinois, the Prairie State, has lost much of its original natural character and biodiversity over nearly two centuries. Urbanization, large-scale agriculture, and resource extraction have taken their toll on the wetlands, prairies, and forests that made up our State when it was founded in 1818.

Not all of this tremendous natural heritage is lost - in fact, far from it. From the Lake Michigan shoreline, to the rich prairie and savannah grasslands, bottomland forests and critical wetlands, remnants of this natural legacy remain today.

Sierra Clubís Wild Illinois Campaign is focused on permanently protecting our last remaining natural areas, working to restore the health and vitality of natural areas already in public ownership, and on helping Illinoisans from all walks of life to learn about and experience first-hand the natural beauty and wonder of Illinois.

We work for an Illinois with wildlife populations that are recovering, not receding. An Illinois with healthy examples of our natural heritage that are accessible to all of our communities. An Illinois that offers kids, today and in the future, the chance to play, explore, and learn outside in nature instead of in front of a TV or computer screen.

Currently weíre focused on these goals for protecting and restoring wild places in Illinois:

  • Protecting Wilderness on the Shawnee National Forest
  • Fighting for A Strong, Professional Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Creating a New National Wildlife Refuge in McHenry County
  • Restoring Healthy Habitats in Our Public Lands

Shawnee
Resources & Contacts:

Terri Treacy


Shawnee

The Shawnee is Illinoisí only National Forest and the stateís largest tract of public land (approx. 287,000 acres). Located in the unglaciated hills of far southern Illinois, the Shawnee extends from the Ohio River on the east to the Mississippi River on the west. From oak-hickory forests, to hill prairies, to seep springs, the Shawnee is one of the most biologically diverse places in the country. More than 500 wildlife species can be found within the Forest, including 48 mammals, 237 birds, 52 reptiles, 57 amphibians, and 109 species of fish. There are seven federally listed threatened and endangered species inhabiting the Forest, as well as 33 species that are considered regionally sensitive. The Forest contains seven Congressionally-designated Wilderness Areas, four National Natural Landmarks, 10 Research Natural Areas, and more than 80 other designated Natural Areas considered important for botanical, ecological, geological or zoological reasons.

Get Involved!

Shawnee Forest Defenders receive Shawnee updates through an electronic newsletter six times a year and action alerts as needed. Sign up today to start receiving the Shawnee Defender Newsletter.

The Shawnee Campaign serves to closely monitor activities and management of the Forest in order to identify threats and find solutions, and is also actively engaged in a proposal to designate three additional Wilderness Areas. Volunteer opportunities abound for activists wishing to engage in the Shawnee Forest Campaign.

WILD ILLINOIS: Shawnee Campaign Committee Projects

Wilderness
The Shawnee Committee works to protect existing Wilderness Areas from threats such as illegal motorized vehicle use and the spread of non-native invasive species. The Committee is also currently engaged in a proposal to have additional areas designated as Wilderness. To find out more about the Shawnee Wilderness Campaign visit the Illinois Wilderness web site.

Forest-wide Protection
The Committee ensures that the Forest Service implements its management plans using sound forest stewardship practices that serve the publicís best interests.

Non-Native Invasive Species
Invasive plants such as garlic mustard and bush honeysuckle and insects such as emerald ash borer threaten the biological diversity and integrity of the Shawnee. The Committee works closely with the Forest Service and other organizations to help educate the public about the growing problem of invasive species and to help coordinate efforts to inventory, monitor and stop their spread.

Trails Designation
The Shawnee is such a fantastic place to recreate that the Forest Service has developed a designated trail system in the most popular areas. The Committee cooperated with the Forest Service in the development the initial Trails Designation Plan and looks forward to working on additional plans. Prior to designated trails, off-trail horse riding was causing considerable erosion and resource damage in many areas. The Committee is active in promoting the benefits of designated trails for horse riding and encourages volunteer efforts in trail building and maintenance.

Shawnee Campaign Volunteer Opportunities


Unless otherwise noted, direct all inquiries about volunteer opportunities to the Shawnee Committee
  • Serve on Shawnee Forest Campaign Committee
    • The committee stays up-to-date on the latest Forest management activities; analyzes them for compatibility with Sierra Club policy; develops positions on management proposals; drafts comments on behalf the Club when necessary; and sends Action Alerts to volunteer activists when needed.
    • The committee oversees the Clubís Shawnee Wilderness Campaign
    • The committee convenes a monthly conference call with occasional email discussion between calls.
  • Wilderness advocate and educator
    • Find and help arrange venues for showing the Wilderness PowerPoint or DVD presentation.
    • Distribute Wilderness brochure and fact sheets at tabling events.
    • Organize a Wilderness House Party where you will show the Wilderness DVD and then ask your guests to write post cards or letters to their Congressional Reps.
  • Weed Watch Citizen Scientist Volunteer
    • Volunteers are trained to identify non-native invasive plant species (NNIS) and map NNIS locations in the forest using GPS technology.
  • Trails and Service
    • Adopt an area to monitor for trail damage, illegal ATV use, non-native invasive species, etc.
    • Volunteer for litter clean up on trails and at trailheads. Email Bob Tyson.
    • Participate in the annual Spring Service in the Shawnee outing. (Working on page to link to.)
    • Work with Shawnee Committee to organize your own service outing in the Shawnee.
Additional opportunities can be found on the Shawnee National Forest web site


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DNR Advocacy
Resources & Contacts:

Terri Treacy


DNR Advocacy

Fighting for A Strong, Professional Illinois Department of Natural Resources
The last decade has been a tough one for the biologists, land managers, and others at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources who look out for our public lands and water supplies.ÝÝ We are working with Gov. Quinn, IDNR Director Marc Miller, and his great team to rebuild this once-proud agency.ÝÝ We advocate for adequate staffing and funding for IDNR, for state funding for natural areas protection, and for hiring the most qualified professionals to take care of our resources.

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Hackmatack
Resources & Contacts:

Cindy Skrukrud


Hackmatack

Creating a New National Wildlife Refuge in McHenry County
Weíre working with our allies to create a new National Wildlife Refuge in McHenry County and southern Wisconsin, to protect prairies, wetlands, streams, and other natural features threatened by development.The proposed refuge would be the first located in the Chicago Metro region; it would also be convenient for visitors from the Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford Metro areas.

The opportunity to further protect and restore rare remnant oak savannas, tall grass prairie and and wetland natural communities has led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study a 55 square mile area containing parts of Walworth, Kenosha and Racine counties in Wisconsin and McHenry and Lake counties in Illinois.

A new refuge will protect and restore our beautiful oak savanna and tallgrass prairie landscape, among the most rare ecosystems on the planet.


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Restoration
Resources & Contacts:

Terri Treacy


Restoration

Restoring Healthy Habitats in Our Public Lands
The movement to lend a helping hand to nature and restore biodiversity to neglected public lands began here in Illinois when Sierra Club members teamed up with allies to restore prairie and savannah habitats in the Cook County Forest Preserves.Ý Ever since, weíve been working in many places and many ways to restore wetlands, prairies, and forests that had been lost or degraded to their natural health.

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