Landowners needed for ‘prairie island habitats’

Patches of prairie will help endangered native species thrive, Natural Area Guardians say

An environmental group maintaining the remnant prairies within Whiteside County is looking for homeowners and land owners who are interested in creating “prairie island habitats” to help expand repositories of native prairie plant species.

The Natural Area Guardians’ vision is to create a network of such habitats that allow native forbs and insect species to migrate among the prairie island locations, to help to maintain the genetic integrity of native plant and insect species.

For example, one NAGs member recently spotted a rusty patched bumblebee in his sand prairie in the southeast corner of the county. More prairie islands throughout the county will help connect and support such endangered species.

There is no minimum space requirement, but at least 30 square feet is recommended.

NAGs also is partnering with the Andresen Nature Center in Fulton to advise and provide support for anyone interested in creating a prairie.

Call the center at 815-208-7059, or stop by at 409 N. Fourth St., where a reconstructed prairie in various stages of development is on site, for information and guidance.

A NAG information table also will be set up at the center during the Fulton Fall Festival Saturday and Sunday.

Limited quantities of starter seeds – bergamot, blazing star, compass plant, mountain mint, pale purple coneflower, quinine and yellow (gray) coneflower – and instructions for creating a prairie will be available.