Exotic Species Removal
You may see changes take place at Macon County Conservation District areas. As part of an effort to improve or restore natural habitat we may be removing exotic and invasive species of plants.
Exotic species are those plants and animals that are from somewhere other than Macon County. Many of the problem exotic plants that we see in the conservation area are from Europe and Asia. Some of these exotics are very invasive and take over choking out native plants and displacing the animals that depend on those native plants for their survival. Removing exotic species is done by cutting, herbiciding or prescribed burning.
Natural Area Restoration Work Taking Place:
On January 12-13, 2016 staff will be removing a short row of Osage Orange trees from the south end of Rock Springs Nature Center. These trees are between the volunteer parking area and Nearing Lane. Detour signs will direct you to the main parking lot and Rock Springs Nature Center on those days. The area will be closed due to the use of chainsaws and heavy equipment.
We are removing these trees for a several of reasons. One, these trees “hide” Rock Springs Nature Center from the public. We are very proud of the Nature Center and hope to make it more visible and accessible to the public. We have heard several stories of first time visitors driving by the building as they enter on Nearing Lane, parking in the parking lot, and then being unsure of where the Nature Center is located. We hope that by opening up this view, visitors will better visualize the building’s location and take advantage of all we have to offer.
Removing the hedge trees will also improve the view of the prairie on the far side of Nearing Lane. We are very proud of this beautiful prairie and want it to be more enjoyable as people enter and exit the Nature Center.
Finally, the Osage Orange tree (what is locally called a hedge tree) is an exotic and marginally invasive species. They are not native to Illinois. We do recognize the historic value of these trees in that they were used by generations of Illinoisans as an early natural “barbed wire.” The trees were regularly pruned to keep them short and to encourage the thorns to grow on the new branches. The mature trees have become a part of the Macon County landscape and have an element of ancient mystery and strength. We do not have any intention, or method, of removing every hedge tree in the district. As a matter of fact, further down the same hedge row we offer historic interpretation of these trees at Homestead Prairie Farm. If you enjoy hedge trees, we will continue to have many of them here at Rock Springs Conservation Area alone.
Initially we will seed this area in oats to secure the soil, decrease run off, and make it less of a muddy mess. In time, we hope to seed it in native grasses. If you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you for your patience as we strive to make the Macon County Conservation District the best it can be.