Fermilab native habitat certified as a Conservation@Work site by The Conservation Foundation

Conservation Foundation President/CEO Brook McDonald (left) presents the Conservation@Work sign to Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. Photo courtesy of The Conservation Foundation

Conservation Foundation President/CEO Brook McDonald (left) presents the Conservation@Work sign to Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. Photo courtesy of The Conservation Foundation

Editor’s note: The following is a press release issued by The Conservation Foundation.

Fermilab became the latest campus to receive Conservation@Work certification by The Conservation Foundation, recognizing it as one of the largest natural areas in the region.

Conservation Foundation President/CEO Brook McDonald presented Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer with a Conservation@Work sign at a brief ceremony at the trailhead of the Margaret Pearson Interpretive Trail at the Batavia campus on Thursday, July 23.

Started nearly 40 years ago when prairie preservation pioneer Robert Betz pushed the first native plant into the ground, the 2,500 acres of native prairie at the Fermilab campus continues to be a work in progress.

“It is one of the largest expanses of restored woodlands, wetlands and tall-grass prairie,” said Dan Lobbes, The Conservation Foundation’s director of land preservation. “It’s really an amazing accomplishment in terms of managing natural areas within an urban setting. I give a lot of credit to Fermilab’s staff and the strong group of volunteers that put in so much time and energy.”

The Conservation@Work concept — using hardy Midwest plants as well as other techniques to capture and clean rainwater — has been eagerly embraced by workplaces because it saves on upkeep costs, reduces the amount of mowing and chemicals used in their landscape, helps control stormwater, and creates a beautiful haven for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, worked with Betz, a Northeastern Illinois University biology professor, on his vision of a restored prairie of native plants found on the prairies of Illinois during presettlement days (prior to 1850).

Wilson believed the prairie — and Fermilab’s bison — would link this global center of science and technology with the natural history of this place.

The Conservation Foundation also helps homeowners reduce maintenance by creating native habitats for wildlife in their own backyards with the Conservation@Home program.

The Conservation Foundation is one of the region’s largest and oldest private conservation organizations, with more than 4,000 members and donors and more than 500 volunteers who contribute 20,000 hours per year.

Work is focused in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties to preserve and restore nature in your neighborhood. Find out more at The Conservation Foundation website.