Biological assessment and monitoring of properties enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in Illinois has been lacking. To remedy this situation, scientists from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Natural History Survey teamed up in 2009 to conduct a pilot study to make general botanical assessments of 11 sites comprising 17 private properties in central Illinois enrolled in CREP. Each site was visited once, and a list of plant species and general vegetation structure were noted. Sites ranged from being dominated by native herbaceous species like common goldenrod to being dominated by tree species like silver maple and eastern cottonwood. Native plant species were generally more abundant than non-native species, but invasive species like reed canary grass, field thistle, and amur honeysuckle were present on some sites and could pose future management concerns. Compared to randomly selected wetland and grassland sites sampled as part of the Critical Trends Assessment Program (CTAP), the CREP sites were more botanically rich and diverse, but as sites mature without management or disturbance, plant diversity is expected to decline.
|INHS Technical Report 2010 (09)