The NWTF regularly works with private landowners to improve wildlife habitat. According to Stacy Lindemann, an NWTF forester, they routinely help landowners restore land overtaken by invasive plant species or used for farming back to a forest attractive to wildlife.
“What we find is invasive species, like autumn olive, reed canary grass and even certain trees, choke out native, beneficial species, such as oak, hickory and herbaceous (non-woody) ground cover. In an existing forest, we remove less desirable trees, which aids in increasing the growth rates and mast production of the more desirable hard-mast species,” Lindemann said.
Lindemann helps landowners develop their forest-management plans, basically outlining what’s needed to manage their timber to improve wildlife habitat. Partners, such as the Illinois Recreation Access Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through initiatives like the Conservation Reserve Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program, help with funding, she added.
Recently she worked with a landowner in Fayette County, Illinois, who owns about 600 acres, 300 of which is in timber.
“We worked with him on a long-term plan to make the property more wildlife friendly,” Lindemann explained. “We went in and removed invasive species and some trees, and let the native trees take hold and grow again. What is amazing is it really doesn’t take long after a project is implemented to start seeing more wildlife on the property. On this particular parcel, turkeys and other wildlife, including deer, quickly starting using the property. Getting rid of nonnative invasive species made a huge difference.”
Since 2012, the NWTF and partnering agencies have completed nonnative invasive species control on hundreds of acres in 11 counties of southern Illinois. The NWTF also worked projects at several state parks, including Ramsey Lake State Park in Fayette County and Forbes Lake State Park in Marion County.