Advertisement

Environmentalists fight to save Bell Bowl Prairie land

Jennifer Kuroda’s fought for months to save Bell Bowl Prairie as the Chicago Rockford International Airport looks to destroy the land with a multi-million dollar airport expansion project.
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Only days away from a decision, the prairie state could be losing a 10,000-year-old prairie that sits right next to the Chicago Rockford International Airport, filled with unique plants and animals, even endangered species.

The Bell Bowl Prairie is home to many plants and insects, including the Rusty Patch Bumblebee, a federally endangered species in Illinois. But, starting Nov. 1, construction crews will have the green light to bulldoze over one of Illinois’ oldest prairies.

“The plant life that’s there is absolutely incredible and you can’t recreate that somewhere else,” said Jennifer Kuroda with Sinnissippi Audubon Society.

Jennifer Kuroda’s fought for months to save Bell Bowl Prairie as the Chicago Rockford International Airport looks to destroy the land with a multi-million dollar airport expansion project.

“There is a federally endangered species out there called the rusty patch bumblebee and we’re very interested in protecting this species as well as all the threatened and endangered plants and birds that visit this location too.”

Kuroda says some have suggested digging up plants in the prairie and relocating them, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

“It’s just not realistic and they keep presenting this idea like it is but in most cases prairie’s that have been tried to be relocated like this before, end up dying within a year.”

Restoration and ecologist expert Holly Jones says Illinois has lost 99.99% of prairie land to agriculture and development.

“It’s one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems itself and it’s really our moral imperative to protect what’s remaining.”

Deputy Director of Operations and Planning for the airport, Zack Oakley released a statement saying the airport has worked with multiple agencies to make sure they’re doing everything right to save the bees.

“RFD is the leading economic driver in the region with more than 8,500 jobs for large and small business within the airport property and is ranked as the 17th largest cargo airport in the country and the fastest-growing cargo airport in the world,” Oakley said. “The current construction projects will result in additional economic growth and jobs for the region.”

The Bell Bowl Prairie makes up five acres of land in Winnebago County. There are only 18 acres of prairie land similar to this, left in Illinois.

Residents will hold a save Bell Bowl Prairie public meeting at the Burpee Museum in Rockford Wednesday at 6 p.m.

They will discuss what can be done before the Nov. 1 deadline.

Copyright 2021 WIFR. All rights reserved.