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Habitat Management

Grasslands and Prairies

The pre-European settlement Illinois prairie was a sea of tall grass and dazzling flowers that supported a diverse wildlife community, including birds, butterflies, game species, and more. About 60 percent of Illinois, approximately 22 million acres, once was prairie. Now about 2,500 acres remain.

The Illinois Wildlife Action Plan (IWAP) guides the conservation of wildlife and their habitats for the people of Illinois. The plan focuses primarily on non-game species, especially vulnerable species, known as the Species in Greatest Conservation Need. The IWAP is organized by habitat into seven Campaigns, each with its own strategic plan for increasing the quality and quantity of wildlife habitat in Illinois. These plans are implemented across the IDNR and by partner organizations and agencies, collectively known as the Illinois Wildlife Action Team.

The Farmland and Prairie Campaign is working to expand and improve grassland habitats in agricultural landscapes. The Farmland and Prairie implementation team is focused on two main goals:

  1. Significantly increase the abundance of grassland wildlife including endangered, economically significant, and declining species within highly focused project areas. To reach this broad goal, the campaign team has focused on the following initiatives:
    • Establish five additional grassland Bird Conservation Areas.
    • Establish an additional 1 million acres of grassland, emphasizing upland habitat. Establish and maintain treeless grasslands larger than 0.5 miles wide and ecological connectivity among grasslands and other habitat patches.
  2. Restore and manage high-quality examples of all prairie communities within all natural divisions within which they occur.


Illinois Department of Natural Resources Link
The National Great Rivers Research & Education Center Link 2wav Link