In 1820, Illinois contained 22 million acres of prairie, but due to modern intensive agricultural practices, only a few thousand remain today. Of high quality, remnant prairie, there are only 2,300 acres which mostly persist along railroads, in cemeteries, and in ground that is not fit for farming (DNR, 2014). Prairies are part of the history and culture of Illinois. The rich soils that grow so much food for people all over the country were formed under prairie landscapes. These grassland habitats have a lot of potential to continue providing ecosystem services for the citizens of Illinois, but first we have to recognize those ecosystem services and realize the value of the sustainability of prairie landscapes. Faculty at the University of Illinois Veterinary School and at the Illinois Natural History Survey have aimed to do just that through a prairie restoration project on the Veterinary Medicine campus.
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Projects Updates for Vet Med Prairies
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The goal of this project would to be to plant a tallgrass prairie garden that mimics the natural prairie growth of Illinois. The garden would go in two locations front of the Basic Sciences Building and be about 10200 sq ft. The garden would consist of 40-50 different plants and consist of around 10000 seedlings. This project will create an area of native habitat on our campus, help educate and engage students about the prairie landscape, integrate with educational opportunities and serve as a pilot for future initiatives of this kind. Therefore, the Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of funding the project for $21,700.