Project Wingspan Across Chicagoland

Landscape & Biodiversity Enhancement for Native Pollinators of the Chicago Wilderness Region 2020 - 2023

Program Overview

Project Wingspan Chicagoland is a native plant materials development program created to increase the quality, quantity, and connectivity of habitat for imperiled native pollinators of the greater Chicago Wilderness Region including the monarch butterfly, the endangered rusty patched bumble bee, and a plethora of other native pollinating species. The program addresses threats of species extirpation from habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation by amplifying the supply of local genotype native seed to support habitat enhancement and restoration efforts.

It is widely accepted that the paramount threats stemming from habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation require concerted biodiversity conservation efforts. One of the greatest challenges to successful habitat restoration is the lack of available local genotype, or genetically appropriate, native plant material. PW Chicagoland will address this challenge by producing an increased supply of local genotype plant seed, prioritizing species that are highly valued and in demand, yet not readily available through the native seed market. The plant materials produced through the program will be used to support diverse restoration projects within multiple environmental settings including prairie, savannah, wetland and woodland edge.

Project Wingspan Chicagoland will work to advance the Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision of achieving a thriving and interconnected network of approximately one million and a half habitat acres by providing necessary vegetative propagules that are currently difficult to obtain. By employing this strategic method Project Wingspan Chicagoland, with the support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and in cooperation with Core Program Partners, will strengthen ongoing habitat restoration and enhancement efforts, help support vital wildlife areas, and achieve multiple conservation goals.

Through the efforts of restoring habitat for native pollinators, Project Wingspan Chicagoland will also be providing essential habitat materials for countless grassland, savannah, and wetland edge species that are also dependent on these habitat types, (e.g. mammals, reptiles, birds, and other beneficial insects and including Illinois T/E and species of concern).

Core Program Partners

Core Program Partners currently include Pollinator Partnership (P2), The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (GDDF), Illinois Department of Natural Resources Mason State Nursery (IL DNR MSN), The Wetlands Initiative (TWI), The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC), Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (MNTP), and Audubon Great Lakes (AGL).