Boots On The Ground Conservation

Our mission is to restore and manage native grasslands.

The 2017 Winter Conference

Come to beautiful Galena, Illinois, for this annual celebration of prairies and savannas. Landowners, volunteers, educators, students, scientists and professionals will share information and ideas, so that everyone in attendance will come away enthused, inspired, and better equipped to keep the future bright for habitat conservation and preservation. The conference highlights include:

♦ A variety of sessions for participants to learn the basics or expand your knowledge in specific areas covering land management, grassland restoration, and prairie fauna.
♦ The chance to share your ideas and concerns about the challenges facing land managers now
and in the future.
♦ Panel discussions focused on moving forward through partnerships, non-traditional liaisons, and volunteer recruitment.
♦  Jeff Walk of The Nature Conservancy will discuss how climate change has and will affect habitat preservation.

♦ Bob Palmer of Effigy Mounds National Monument will look back at some of America’s most important conservationists and how we can learn from them to positively affect our future.
♦ Come meet new people with similar passions and renew connections with colleagues.
♦ Enjoy social time which will include a concert by talented local musicians — and if you are musically inclined, bring your instrument and jam with them!
♦ Come for aSunday field trip, hosted by the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, to see bald eagles, a rare prairie, and other unique features of Northwest Illinois.

You can find all the conference details here, register for the conference by mail here or register online here. The registration deadline is February 22, 2017.

Why Restoration Takes Time

Relationships in the soil become stronger during restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really connected. These connections need time to literally grow, and fungi are the star performers. A European research team has shown the complete network of soil life for the first time.

Earthworms, fungi, nematodes, mites, springtails, and bacteria are all very busy underground. All soil life together forms one community. Under natural circumstances, that is. All the known groups of soil organisms are present from the start, but the links between them are missing. Because they don't interact, the community isn't ready to support a diverse plant community yet.

Fungi turn out to play a very important role in restoration, appearing to drive the development of new networks in the soil. After six years, about 10% is fungal biomass and 90% is from bacteria. Still, already at that stage, about half the carbon -- being the food -- goes to the fungi. After 30 years, that share has risen to three quarters of the carbon stored. Fungi really are the drivers in natural soils.

Understanding how these networks form is critical to fully understanding the process of ecological restoration. You can read all about it here.

Seed Shed Doings, February 2017

Of course, we have also been busy with organizing the 30th Anniversary TPE Prairie Conference in partnership with the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation to be held March 4, 2017.  If you haven’t signed up yet, the deadline is February 22. For all the details, go to the TPE website.

We look forward to seeing all of you there!