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Newly Restored Wetlands at Illinois Central College Receive Care from Volunteers

Members of The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) visited ICC’s East Peoria campus on Thursday, June 4, to plant flora in the newly restored wetland. Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment, which is why taking care of them is important.

Wetlands are also widely used as a way to provide opportunities for education. Academic programs at ICC, like Environmental Sciences, are fortunate to have the unique ability to use these wetlands to teach nature conservation to students. Last summer, ICC constructed a wetland on its demonstration farm at the East Peoria Campus. ICC ag students are now able to conduct field trials on water conservation at on-campus research plots, the demonstration farm and the wetland.

“We have the great ability with the Demonstration Farm to expose students to hands-on research on how these different practices tie to the environment, as well as how they affect agriculture,” said Pete Fandel, ICC Professor of Agriculture. “Everyone benefits from a project like this — students, farmers, and the community at large.”

A total of 19 marsh species were introduced by the TWI volunteers. The wetland plants were selected for their ability to establish quickly and their tolerance to the changing water depths. Plants are a key component in the success of the constructed wetland. The wetland vegetation not only provides habitat, but it is essential for the microbial activity that will make denitrification, the loss or removal of nitrogen or nitrogen compounds specifically, possible.

“Similar to the horticulture areas on ICC’s campus, we want the wetland and adjacent prairie areas to be an attractive nature location,” said Jill Kostel, Senior Environmental Engineer and Project Manager for TWI. “The 36 species of native forbs, grasses, and legumes selected for the prairie areas should be attractive for wildlife, pollinators, and people visiting the site.”

We look forward to continuing this partnership with TWI to preserve these important areas and do what’s necessary to care for this environment.

For information on the environmental science programs at ICC, visit icc.edu/environmentalscience. For more information regarding the wetland construction, visit smartwetlands.farm.