All about prairie conservation efforts in Central Illinois

May 18, 2010

Summer 2010 Journal Project: Stay Tuned!

Good day today. After I photographed the Vet Med Prairie I returned to pillage materials out of a gondola that is next to the bridge site. Then a planner came by and we had a lively discussion. He put together a lot of the sesquicentennial exhibit.

I had a few words to say about the north end component. He explained that there were very few north end pictures available at the archives. We went on to discuss the bridge and its demise and railroading generally. He seems to have a sympathy for rails and has European experience with them. We exchanged information. I asked about the Ice House on Randolph and if it was to become a detention pond for the Washington watershed. He didn’t know. He had to leave.

I went to the ice house and noticed that the Norfolk Southern tracks had some ties that had been recently worked on. I was afraid that that may mean an out with the rail siding but no, they are using the line for local freight and a train came by with about twenty cars on it. It moved over the repaired section very slowly. Canadian National had a derailment on a parallel line. I followed the “local” round and saw that it was turning north and not going to Urbana. It was indeed on a NS line that goes to Urbana. That means the rail roads are working with each other to gather business because this was a CN train on NS tracks and CN was repairing NS tracks. Good. The freight must have come from Mahomet. I will find out.

I answered emails, then realized I had to have a North American Prairie Conference abstract in by the 14th. I formulated the text and whittled it down to 225 words and sent it off before the cock crowed at midnight, if they crow at midnight, and the date changed to May 15:

PRAIRIE PRESERVATION WHERE THERE IS NONE: When, I arrived in Illinois from Australia, some years ago, I was looking for the local prairie ecosystem. I found it hard to find. I started to put prairies in the context of their geology and history. I realized that most locals were also immigrants and that they did not know much about their ecosystem. In six generations they have had to survive, and develop their farmland and urban resources. The newer generations are now seeking a more intimate appreciation of their natural landscape. I began teaching subjects such as “Reading the Landscape”. Interested individuals emerged and helped established not for profit agencies to acquire railroad rights of ways and to care for remnant prairies. These groups have done an excellent job of educating the public. They have been preservationists rather than specialists but they get specialist help. We are most concerned about preserving the gene pool but our educational interests range into associated studies at universities, colleges and into the education of concerned citizens. We need team approaches that bridge institutions and disciplines. We also a need to train team leaders and support personnel for without these individuals we cannot have the impact that is needed for community action. I will give examples of some of the challenges we have met including the archiving of information for future generations.