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Midewin considers establishing Bison herd

Open house on idea planned Wednesday

Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 8:57 a.m. CDT

WILMINGTON, Ill. — The United States Forest Service will hold an Open House Wednesday, April 3, for community members to come and learn more about the proposal to establish a bison herd on Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

The Open House will be held between the hours of 3 and 8 p.m. at the Midewin Welcome Center, located at 30239 S Illinois 53, Wilmington.

Staff and partners from the National Forest Found-ation will be available to explain more about the proposal, the environmental assessment process, and answer your questions. 

The Forest Service at Midewin National Tall-grass Prairie (Midewin) is proposing to establish a small herd of bison on the Prairie and will be preparing an environmental assessment for Bison Herd Establishment in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In partnership with the National Forest Found-ation (NFF), the forest service is proposing to develop a bison grazing area on approximately 1,200 acres.

A herd of bison would be established and allowed to graze on an experimental basis, to determine the success of prairie ecosystem restoration using bison grazing practices.

Establishing a herd of bison on Midewin will also bring more visitors to the site to view these iconic symbols of our heritage.

The proposed project site is located east of Illinois 53, in the pastures south of the Iron Bridge Trailhead and north of Prairie Creek.

Bison were removed from the tallgrass prairie ecosystem over a century ago. Public interest in bison on Midewin has been growing since the mid-1990s, when Midewin was first established.

Scientific literature frequently refers to bison as a keystone species in the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

The Midewin Prairie Plan provides guidance and direction to use bison on an experimental basis to meet habitat and restoration objectives.

Researchers also support bison establishment. Many partners and universities are interested in studying the effect of bison grazing when restoring grassland bird habitat.

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