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L&C and NGRREC Habitat Strike Team Earns New Grants, Funding

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Article by: Jan Dona, L&C Media Services, jdona@lc.edu

EAST ALTON, IL – Lewis and Clark Community College and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center recently received grants and funding totaling $420,000, which will be used to expand full-time staff and expand the capability of the Habitat Strike Team.

The Strike Team, whose major funding partners include the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Illinois Habitat Fund, Illinois Recreational Access Program (IDNR-IRAP) and the Division of Natural Heritage, has conducted habitat management and restoration work on both private and public lands since its inception in the spring of 2016.

The team is closely linked with L&C’s Restoration Ecology program, directed by Assistant Professor Scott Moss, by employing several graduates and providing students with career experience through paid internships. Along with Moss, student volunteers often help the Strike Team with various restoration projects throughout the year and assist on volunteer workdays hosted by local partners such as The Nature Institute.

The relationship between the two programs benefits both in several ways. For example, the Restoration Ecology program provides native plants to supplement the Strike Team’s restoration projects. In return, the Strike Team provides Restoration Ecology students chainsaw training days in the woods of the Godfrey campus.

“The partnership of these two departments at L&C provides stacked benefits to the citizens of Illinois and its flora and fauna,” NGRREC Manager of Special Projects Ted Kratschmer said. “Not only is the Habitat Strike Team providing direct habitat management and improvement with these funds, L&C is also training practitioners who have a solid set of skills and are prepared for jobs in this high-demand field.”

Ultimately, the habitat improvement conducted by the team also improves conditions for wildlife species and even aquatic species.

“Sometimes we are asked why it is important for us to work on habitat management when we are a river research and education center,” NGRREC Director of Environmental Education Sarah Fisher said. “It may not be obvious at first, but research clearly shows that good upland habitat and habitat management leads to improved water quality in our rivers.”

Habitat management involves manipulation of landscapes, which provides the perfect opportunity for applied research, which is central to NGRREC’s mission.

To date, five student research projects involving habitat management associated with strike team and IDNR management activities have been completed through NGRREC’s summer undergraduate internship program. In 2021 alone, three more students will complete projects funded by NGRREC and the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

For more information about L&C Restoration Ecology program, contact Moss at jkmoss@lc.edu.

For information about NGRREC’s Habitat Strike Team, contact Justin Shew at jshew@lc.edu.

For information on NGRREC’s summer research internship programs, contact Fisher at saafisher@lc.edu.