Illinois is home to over 50,000 different species including 400 bird, 200 fish, and 60 mammal species. Forests along rivers are home to move overwintering bald eagles than any other state outside of Alaska and over 320 bird species use the Mississippi River corridor for spring and fall migrations.
The Problem: Loss of habitat
The lands and waters of Illinois face many challenges, including: habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, climate change, and more. We work to address some of these most pressing issues.
- Invasive species – Non-native, plants and animals threaten the ecological health and integrity of the high-quality habitats that remain within the state.
- Lack of conservation funding – Since 2009, Illinois has ranked among the lowest in terms annual open-space acquisition spending. Over the past 5 years, many dedicated sources of conservation funding have been underfunded, or completely unfunded.
- Habitat fragmentation – With the expansion of agriculture and development, contiguous habitats are becoming increasingly fragmented and isolated, causing problems for species mobility and adaptation.
- Climate change – Unprecedented changes in climate throughout the Midwest will likely place additional stress on terrestrial habitats and water resources. Increases in temperature and drought frequency will likely impact populations of plants and animals.
The Solution: Working with Partners for Conservation Impact
Prairie Rivers Network works to improve the condition of land along rivers and streams that will result in cleaner water and healthier environments for people, fish, and wildlife. We partner with individuals, organizations, and agencies to promote land protection, habitat restoration, and resource stewardship. In addition to promoting on-the-ground impact, Prairie Rivers also champions local, state, and federal policies that support conservation work and healthy habitat throughout the state.
We work with many partners to identify and execute strategic conservation activities along rivers and streams throughout the state. In many cases, we serve as coordinator and strategic planner, helping partners identify and execute conservation priorities. Through this work, we have produced strategic conservation plans for the Upper Mississippi River and Vermilion River. Recently, we have convened a group of conservation organizations to plan for and execute floodplain restoration along the Illinois River.
Influencing Policy to Promote Conservation
Prairie Rivers Network advocates for local, state, and federal policies that promote habitat conservation. Much of this work revolves around advocating for important conservation funding.