If you have visited Griswold or Fort Daniel Conservation areas recently, you may have noticed some changes. The Conservation District is currently working on major restorations at each site.
At Griswold, a five-acre restoration area has been cleared of all invasive and nonnative shrubs, resulting in a savanna-like ecosystem, which is a prairie with a few scattered trees. Historically, Griswold would have had very few trees, if any, due to its topography and soil type. This site was formed when the Illinoisan glacier receded, leaving behind a cone-shaped hill of gravel, known as a glacial kame. This is what we refer to as a gravel prairie and fire would have determined what plant species survived. Woody species, such as trees, would not have been able to survive these intense, frequent fires.
Fort Daniel Conservation Area is going through a different type of change – from agriculture to prairie and wetlands. In 2019, the Conservation District acquired 173 acres south of the existing Fort Daniel boundary. There were approximately 113 acres in agriculture and by the end of this year, all 113 acres will have been planted as native prairie. Multiple wetlands will also be installed at this site as part of a partnership with the City of Decatur. The goal is to slow down runoff and reduce the amount of sediment that gets into Big Creek and ultimately Lake Decatur.
While these restoration projects may look unsightly in the beginning, over time they will develop into beautiful prairies, savannas, and wetlands.