Night Heron Marsh: Butterfly and Pollinator Habitat Improvements
(Posted 9/28/17; completed 12/31/20)
The Forest Preserve District has started work to create and improve 87 acres of butterfly and pollinator habitat at Night Heron Marsh Forest Preserve near Eola Road and Liberty Street in Aurora. The project will remove an existing hay field, restore wetlands and develop a pollinator-rich prairie.
The work is part of the collaborative 12-agency Fox Valley Monarch Corridor Project, led by The Conservation Foundation. The corridor extends over 975 acres and will restore 10 multi-acre sites and hundreds of “stepping stone” sites on private land in neighborhoods and business parks to connect breeding and migration habitats of butterflies and other pollinators.
The District will control nonnative, aggressive and invasive plants on 64 acres and convert 23 acres of former agricultural land to prairie at Night Heron Marsh. The entire area will then be seeded with native plants, including milkweeds and other nectar producers.
Nectar is important to adult butterflies and other pollinators because it fuels them through the fall migration and winter hibernation. Milkweeds are vital to the early stages of the monarch butterfly life cycle because they’re the only plants they eat as caterpillars.
The District received a $40,000 matching grant from the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund to fund its portion of the project and an additional $10,000 from Openlands through the ComEd Green Region Grant Program.
The Conservation Foundation received a nearly $250,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create and improve monarch butterfly habitat along the Fox River. The grant is funded by the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund and is financially supported by Monsanto Company as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Forest Service. For more information, visit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The ComEd Green Region Program awards grants to public agencies to support their efforts to plan for, protect and improve open space in ComEd’s service area of northern Illinois, recognizing the open space is a crucial qualify of life component. For more information, visit Openlands.
The project began in 2017 and is expected to be completed by late 2018.