FT2 - Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Day: Saturday 7/7
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Trip Leader: Eric Ulaszek
Email Address: ulaszek@fs.fed.us

Trip Limit: 20

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is the largest contiguous tract of public land in northeastern Illinois. Created from 19000 acres of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, less than 5% of this site is covered by native vegetation, but there is an ambitious project underway to restore the entire site to native prairie ecosystem, including large tracts of restored grassland landscapes. The field trip will include stops at and walks through several ongoing landscape-scale, high diversity habitat restorations of prairie, wetlands, and oak savanna. A portion of the trip will focus on the work behind these restorations, looking at equipment, native seed production and processing, native plant propagation, and invasive plant control. Stops will also feature remnant native plant communities, including the globally rare dolomite prairie, home to many range-restricted plants, including several species disjunct from ranges in the Ozarks and Nashville basin. Dolomite prairie also features different dominant grasses and characteristic forbs than typical tallgrass prairie, because of the combined effects of shallow soils, poor drainage, summer droughts, and chemical properties of the bedrock. Some of the locally rare plant species we will cncounter in the dolomite prairie include Eleocharis compressa, Carex crawei, Minuartia patula, Deschampsia cespitosa, Aster oblongifolius, Malvastrum hispidum, Satureja arkansana, Cyperus acuminatus, and Muhlenbergia cuspidata. Exposed bedrock pavement in dolomite prairie pavements supports some regionally uncommon lichens, liverworts, and mosses. Midewin also supports significant populations of many grassland birds, and expect to see and hear bobolinks, dicksissels, grasshopper sparrows, and other species that are declining in or have disappeared from midwestern landscapes.Not strenuous; no climbing involved. There will be some foot travel off trails in rank herbaceous vegetation or on saturated soils. Hats, sun screen, binoculars, hand lens, insect repellent, water, and shoes/boots with ankle support highly recommended.

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