Mulligan Solar donated $70,000 to the Conservation Fund to support the Hill Prairie Habitat Restoration Project. The project is a partnership between the Conservation Fund, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and private landowners, among others.
Located about eight miles west of the Mulligan Solar facility, this project will establish and enhance up to 70 acres of grassland and prairie habitat. This area currently has very limited flower and nectar resources and diminished nesting areas for wildlife, including native bees and other pollinators.
The Hill Prairie Habitat Restoration Project will help restore an extremely rare habitat type known as Loess Hill Prairie. Hill prairies in Illinois have been in major decline since the 1950s, mainly due to the invasion of shrubs and trees that overtake native species. Current estimates find there to be less than 530 acres of this type of prairie remaining in Illinois, so this contribution will meaningfully increase the number of hill prairie acres in the project area.
The project will provide critical habitat for a number of state-listed threatened or endangered species, with a significant benefit for the monarch butterfly, a candidate for listing as a federally threatened or endangered species. The habitat created will also benefit local game species (such as turkey, deer, rabbits, and squirrels), bat species that require open prairie areas for foraging, and reptile species such as the ornate box turtle and eastern box turtle.
The increase in habitat will not only benefit wildlife, but also help reduce erosion and sedimentation into the river system. The native plants will allow better infiltration of water into the ground, which will reduce the amount of runoff impacting surrounding lands, in turn reducing the amount of sedimentation being introduced into the riverine system.