Nachusa News: Endangered Bee Spotted in Prairie Planting
Un-bee-lievable! A researcher at Nachusa Grasslands spotted a rusty patched bumble bee, which is a federally- and state-endangered species. The bee was discovered in a prairie planting, which shows that Nachusa’s prairie restoration efforts are thriving and providing habitat for wildlife.
As pollinators, bumble bees are a keystone species group that help wildflowers reproduce, which in turn provide seed and fruits for other species. Rusty patched bumblee bees were once abundant across 28 states, have plummeted due to loss of habitat, disease, a changing climate and other factors. Bumblebees are among the most important pollinators of crops such as blueberries, cranberries, and clover, and almost the only insect pollinators of tomatoes according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Thanks to the Friends of Nachusa Grasslands for funding the grant that made this research possible!
Why You Should Visit
Blanding’s turtles and many other uncommon or rare animals call Nachusa home. Grassland birds — including grasshopper sparrows, dickcissels and Henslow’s sparrows — perch in the colorful prairie grasses, alongside the state’s largest populations of federally-threatened prairie bush clover. And in October 2014, bison returned to Nachusa. In total, the preserve is home to 700 native plant species and 180 species of birds.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
In 1986, recognizing Nachusa offered the best opportunity in the state to restore a large and diverse grassland, the Conservancy purchased the core of the preserve. So far, more than 3,500 acres have been protected at Nachusa Grasslands through acquisition or conservation easements.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Staff and volunteers from throughout the region work together to preserve and restore Nachusa. Volunteers have donated more than 200,000 hours of labor to the restoration and management of this marvelous example of prairie grassland. These specially-trained volunteers help the Conservancy conduct controlled burns, monitor wildlife, stop the spread of harmful, non-native species and harvest thousands of pounds of seed every year. They help harvest more than 2,500 pounds of seed from the many remnant habitats on the preserve. The seed is used for future prairie plantings and restorations.
We receive many inquiries from visitors interested in seeing Nachusa's bison herd. Please note: The bison can be viewed from the public roadsides only. The herd roams across 1,500 acres of rolling land and are often not visible from the road. Binoculars are helpful. No hiking is permitted inside the fenced bison unit. The other units of the preserve are open dawn to dusk for hiking.