What may appear to be a messy operation by the Jarrett Prairie Center, the Restoration Department is actually reclaiming an ecosystem that has been lost in time.
A savanna is a grassy area with a few trees. It is a very unique and rare habitat in Northern Illinois. Defined loosely, if a person is standing under a scattering of Oak trees, then it can be called a savanna.
Sunlight broken and scattered by the Oak canopy creates a niche environment suited for a blend of grasses, flowers, and animals that are rare or missing from either true prairie or forest habitats.
We are fortunate to have a sample of remnant prairie on the shallow soil found on top of the hill near the Jarrett Prairie Center. Through time and a lack of constructive fires, the savanna became something else…a closed canopy forest. Black cherry, hackberry, and sugar maples are all fire intolerant species which shaded the grasses and flowers so we lost them. Eventually, honeysuckles and other non-native shrub species flourished without competition or any disturbance and we risked losing the prairie remnant as these species began to close the gap between the two ravines.
It is the goal of the Restoration Department to reclaim the area and, to the best of their ability, recreate the conditions to allow the savanna ecosystem to flourish!
Please forgive the appearance as we go forward on this project. When completed, please be sure to come and enjoy the species that call the savanna their home.
If you have questions or would like more information on savanna ecosystems, please call our Restoration Department Superintendent Russell Brunner at 815-234-8535 x219.