By Jason Beverlin
Deputy Director of the Illinois River Program
July 2009 — As part of our wetland restoration at Emiquon, we’re working to control invasive species, which will allow native plants to flourish. This summer we’ve been focusing on removing invasive plants that choke out native growth and diminish biodiversity. Our preserve staff has created a master list of invasive species, such as the highly destructive Japanese knotweed, and ranked them in order of our top priorities for eradication.
The best way to keep an eye on invasives at Emiquon is to drive around the levee to get a bird’s eye view, since the preserve encompasses so many acres. It’s important that we spot these plants as early as possible, since it’s easier to remove them before they spread. We continually mow plants like Canada and musk thistles in the spaces between tree plantings, and we spray herbicide and cut plants by hand in areas that are near trees or otherwise unreachable by tractor.
We’ve been getting a lot of visitors during these warm summer months. Dickson Mounds Museum has given out more than 2,200 fishing and boating permits, and the fishing at Emiquon has been great. We were recently rated the number seven site for bass fishing in Illinois by the Prairie State Outdoors website for having large, healthy fish, despite this being our first fishing season! But the people visiting the preserve aren’t the only ones enjoying the lakes—plenty of waterfowl have been stopping by too. From state-threatened black-crowned night herons nesting in the shrubbery to a group of young pelicans on summer migration, there’s always something new to see at Emiquon.