The reforestation will consolidate a large forested block along the Embarrass river south of Charleston Illinois at the Warbler Ridge Conservation Area owned by Grand Prairie Friends, a land trust in east central Illinois. Together with the adjacent Fox Ridge State Park, over 3,000 forested acres are preserved, a rarity in this heavily agricultural area. This forested block is regionally important for neotropical migratory songbirds such as cerulean warblers as well as the bat species targeted in the restoration.
Eco Logic developed a planting plan and tree lists based on soil type for the floodplain and upland fields in the project area. Guidelines for sequencing, installation of seed and trees, and maintenance were included in the plan.
In former floodplain agricultural fields along the Embarrass River, Eco Logic started planting the first round of container-grown trees in the fall of 2018. Additional tree plantings occurred in spring of 2019, fall 2019 and spring of 2020. All plantings received a seeding of Virginia wild rye to initiate the establishment of a native herbaceous layer. The fall plantings were relatively small plots of containerized trees installed in flood prone areas, while the spring plantings were bareroot trees that covered the majority of the acreage. The trees suffered significant deer browse in 2019, so Eco Logic worked with Grand Prairie Friends to develop a solar powered electric fencing plan to protect the trees from further deer browse.
Several upland fields totaling approximately 40 acres will be planted with bare-root trees in the spring of 2021. This will conclude the initial reforestation.