Ancient prairie, home to endangered bees and rare plants, may soon be razed by airport
A growing group of people are fighting to save a rare Illinois prairie from imminent destruction.
Illinois, the Prairie State, was once dominated by 22 million acres of grasslands, home to an almost unimaginable diversity of plants and animals. But now, only one-ten-thousandth of the state’s original prairies, or roughly 2,500 acres, remain.
One of the rarest grassland types, dry gravel prairie, is the most endangered: Only 18 high-quality acres remain. Now, Chicago-Rockford International Airport plans to destroy Bell Bowl Prairie, which contains five acres of this precious biome, as part of a planned expansion.
But a growing coalition of environmental groups, scientists, and advocates—including local middle schoolers—are fighting to protect this habitat. Among other reasons, they point out that Bell Bowl hosts nearly 150 plant species and supports a wide variety of birds and insects, including endangered