Rock Springs – 2020
Before – A dense wall of invasive bush honeysuckle overpowers any chance for native vegetation to grow.
Before – Inside the thick brush, broken glass and metal litters the ground.
During restoration – Dense brush and invasive trees are removed, opening up the ground to sunlight for valuable native prairie and savanna plants.
During restoration – Millikin University students volunteer to pick up broken glass and litter from the site.
After – This example of savanna at Friends Creek Conservation Area is what the entrance to Rock Springs will soon resemble.
With assistance from the Macon County Conservation Foundation, the entrance of Rock Springs Conservation Area began natural area restoration in 2020.
Three acres of land sandwiched between Brozio Lane and the Rodney T. Miller Wetland was a tangle of invasive bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, and black locust trees, which are not originally native to Central Illinois. The area was also an old dump site from decades ago, riddled with broken glass and sharp metal.
With help from conservation supporters, staff transformed the site to an oak hickory savanna. Such a savanna is more appropriate for the location bordering a wetland and prairie, and will be safer and more suitable for wildlife. Savanna habitats have become increasingly rare in Central Illinois. Savannas are arguably one of our most “endangered” habitats. They consist of expansive trees loosely dotting a carpet of prairie grasses and shorter native plants below their shady canopies.
After removing invasive trees, brush, and trash, the area was (will be?) reseeded with native prairie grasses and wildflowers. This will benefit many species of birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.