In 2017, through the advocacy of the Prairie State Conservation Coalition, Illinois Environmental Council, TLC and dozens of nonprofit conservation land trusts, the Natural Areas Stewardship Act (NASA) was approved by the state legislature in 2017.
NASA is a grant program that allows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to allocate up to $2 million a year that nonprofit conservation land trusts, like TLC, can apply for to help manage Illinois Nature Preserves. There are over 600 Nature Preserves in the state, and many are on private land. NASA was designed to help ensure that funds are available to take care of these areas and keep them from degrading.
2021 was the first year NASA funds were available. Fifteen application were submitted for the $500,000 in funding. Eight were approved, including TLC’s proposal for $60,296 for restoration work at five Illinois Nature Preserves: TLC’s Yonder Prairie, TLC’s Irish Oaks, TLC’s Boloria Meadows, Woodstock’s Westwood addition to Yonder Prairie, and Spring Hollow.
The funds will help improve Blanding’s turtle habitat at Yonder Prairie and Irish Oaks, improve wetland hydrology at Boloria, manage invasive plants that threaten the native wetlands, prairies and wetlands at Spring Hollow, and remove more invasive brush at all the sites.
To help increase the pace of brush removal by a factor of four, TLC was granted funds to purchase a Kubota Mini Skid Steer and attachments like a grapple, bucket and mower.
Look out buckthorn and honeysuckle! David and Megan are coming for you!