Illinois is called the Prairie State. More than 60% of the state was once a sweeping vista covered by wild flowers and tallgrass. But as European settlers came to Illinois and began to farm the fertile land, the prairie began to disappear. By 1900, most of the Illinois prairie was gone – and along with it the huge grassland ecosystem with its native plants and animals.
Today, Nicor Gas and others in the state are doing their part to restore portions of the state to their pre-settler condition for future generations to enjoy.
- We have restored areas of native vegetation at our corporate headquarters site in Naperville, Ill., and on our transmission pipeline right-of-way in the Village of North Aurora, Ill.
- In cooperation with Openlands, a nonprofit organization that works with corporations to convert turf grass to native landscapes, Nicor Gas restored several acres of unused land adjacent to our Elgin, Ill., facility in 2005. The site is within a small industrial park flanked by single-family homes and facing a busy commuter rail station. This prairie restoration project has received awards from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chicago Wilderness, Clean Air Counts and Southern Gas Association.
Our prairie restoration efforts have a number of environmental advantages:
- Once established, native plants such as prairie grass and wild flowers help reduce carbon emissions from the atmosphere by absorbing it from the air and trapping it in the plants.
- Natural landscapes help control water runoff, protecting our drinking water aquifers from environmental contaminants, such as pesticides and fertilizers.
- Natural landscapes provide a visually pleasing habitat for native wildlife species such as songbirds and butterflies for all to enjoy.
- Prairie grass and wild flowers reduce maintenance costs because they do not require pesticides, fertilizers or watering, and native landscapes do not need to be mowed like a conventional lawn. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lawnmowers emit 5 percent of the nation's air pollution.