Connecting habitat fragments are thought to be good for wildlife (as opposed to small disconnected pieces). One of the ways Illinois is trying to connect habitat is through a program called Corridors for Tomorrow, initiated in 1993.
The Illinois Interstate highway system is the third largest in the nation, with about 1,900 miles of corridors, 370 interchanges, and 31 open or proposed rest areas. Associated with this system is about 135,000 acres of land. These corridors are in state ownership and are subject to far less pressure from economic and ownership changes than most land in the state. – Corridors for Tomorrow
The traditional way to manage highway roadsides is to plant non-native species along with herbicide usage and mowing. As we grow into an age of mainstream conservation, an alternative use of this area is to provide habitat for Illinois’ birds, plants, mammals, and insects.
The Illinois Department of Transportation program called Corridors for Tomorrow has planted 5,500 acres of flowers and grasses to simulate the historic prairie landscape. Todayâ€™s roadside prairie is a mix of native and nonnative species chosen for visual interest and the ability to thrive under roadside conditions.
Corridors for Tomorrow also constructed perches for raptors along highway corridors. During the course of the project 20 of these were placed along selected Interstate highways in Illinois.
Illinois’ goal with this program, combined with other ongoing programs, is to establish over 10,000 acres of native grasses and wildflowers along our highways.