With a theme this year of “Monarch Magic,” the volunteer day featured planting native species that are great nectar sources for monarchs such as Sullivant’s milkweed, rattlesnake master, and marsh blazing star.
The Wetlands Initiative, an Illinois-based nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the wetland resources of the Midwest, has worked closely with the Forest Service to carry out on-the-ground habitat restoration projects at Midewin since 1997.
Beginning in 2016, TWI has expanded its work at Midewin, tackling a $6.7-million restoration project in collaboration with the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation that will ultimately transform 1,800 acres back to a rich prairie–wetland landscape.
Once complete, the new restoration will create a vast corridor of wetland and prairie habitats that will also provide unique educational and recreational opportunities for the public.
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, named after a Potawatomi Native American word for “Grand Healing Society,” was designated as the nation’s first National Tallgrass Prairie in 1996.
Under long-term management by the U.S. Forest Service, Midewin was once the site of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant and is now being returned to the healthy wetland and prairie landscape once found across Illinois.
At 30 square miles, it is the largest prairie restoration effort east of the Mississippi River and the largest protected open space for the public to visit in the Chicago metropolitan area.
All five participating companies have locations within 10 miles of Midewin, and all previously sent volunteers to the prairie.