Save The Prairie Society


History of the Restoration Site
  --Evolution of Illinois   Native Ecosystems
  --Local Natural and   Human History

Role of Buffer Sites in Preserving Biodiversity

Project Goals and Purpose

Restoration Strategy and Methods

Site Biodiversity

Education and Outreach

Project Participants

Evolution of Illinois Native Ecosystems

The geology of the planet and the ever-changing climate on Earth tell a history of dramatic and violent adaptations over the course of millions and millions of years bringing us to the world we know today.

The Chicago area has been shaped by ice, fire and water. For 500,000 years, glaciers have advanced over our region and then receded. Each advance left the landscape changed.

As recently as 15,000 years ago, glaciers covered northeastern Illinois. Over time, these mile-high glaciers melted and receded, and tundra colonized the land. Gradually, the tundra was replaced by boreal forests of pine and spruce. As the climate grew milder and drier, oaks and hickories, the native hardwoods of the present day, moved in and prairie expanded its range into Illinois from the south and west.

Fires started by lightning and Native Americans maintained this natural harmony, nurturing ecosystems of incredible vastness and beauty where biodiversity flourished ­ until modern man disrupted the balance.

video photo by Valerie Spale