Category: Notes from the Field (Page 1 of 2)

OKES will be working with the support of the Xerces Society to provide pollinator gardens, native planting areas, and bee lawns to Carbondale residents!

The city of Carbondale has recently revised city codes to support and encourage pollinator-supportive landscaping. The city of Carbondale recognizes these three classifications of pollinator-supportive landscapes: Pollinator Gardens, Bee Lawns, and Native Planting Areas (the different classifications can be found here:

We are very excited to announce Ozark Koala Ecosystem Services will be working with the support of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to offer Carbondale residents high quality and deeply researched options for implementing all three types of pollinator landscapes as well as literature and direction to citizen science projects that can make these plantings more fun and engaging.

OKES often works on large scale and high value natural areas, but we see significant public outreach value in these small but highly visible private projects. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about how we can help you make your pollinator dreams a reality! Pictured and labeled below are some of the many native and pollinator friendly plants that you could have in your yard. 

How to contact us: 


Office Phone- (618) 694-5471

For more information on the Xerces society follow this link: 

For more information on what native plant species are best for our region follow this link:—Midwest_web.pdf

For more information on what pollinator habitat includes or might look like follow this link:

For more information on natural lawn care and what you can do to support pollinators visit this link:

*some of these sites mention that nonnative plants can be used in these plantings. While nonnative plants can be beneficial we would like to reiterate that native species do prefer and thrive with native plants and they are more “valuable” to the local ecosystem in the long run. 

Snowberry clearwing hummingbird moth (Hemaris diffinis) on ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata)
📷:Amy Frailey
A monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
📷:Amy Frailey
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
📷:Amy Frailey
A ruby throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) on cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
📷:Amy Frailey

The Benefits of Snags and Wildlife Trees

The term “snag” is used to describe a standing dead or dying tree. While snags may appear to be value- less, they are actually very important for the survival of many wildlife species especially in the winter months. They provide habitat for animals such as raccoons, woodpeckers, opossums, squirrels, owls and many more species. Snags and cavity holes will stay warmer than the outside air, provide safety, shelter, and even food for some animals. Ideally, in a healthy woodland there would be around 5-7 snags per acres. Good habitat and den trees in Southern Illinois include but are not limited to American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Beech trees (Fagus spp.), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), and any hardwoods (Quercus spp. and Carya spp.). You can create snags by girdling unhealthy trees, girdling is when you cut into the bark (into the cambium layer) around a tree 1-2 times about 6 inches apart from each other and then depending on the species apply herbicide into the cut. Girdling will allow the tree to slowly rot away in a more controlled way. Labeled below are some pictures of snags, cavity holes, and the animals that use them found around Southern Illinois. 

An example of a large snag
📷:Amy Frailey
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
An example of a snag or wildlife tree
📷:Amy Frailey
Barred owl (Strix varia)
📷: Amy Frailey
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)
📷: Amy Frailey
Yellow Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
An Example of a cavity hole
📷: Amy Frailey

Natural Oak Regeneration

Oak regeneration is a very good sign of a healing ecosystem. Check out this patch of oak regen on a property our company has managed for a few years. Invasive species removal, forest stand improvement, and prescribed fire is giving this lot a new lease on life.

Fults Hill Nature Preserve

In 2021, the IDNR contracted work out to OKES to conduct invasive species management on Horseshoe Prairie located at Fults Hill Nature Preserve in Monroe County. This was part of an ongoing restoration effort to help the prairie parcels thrive and to minimize competition with aggressive invaders that will crowd out natives if given the opportunity. Our job was to remove Sassafras, Sumac, and other species that do not belong on a hill prairie thus giving our natives a chance to flourish. The pictures below show Horseshoe Prairie before OKES conducted invasive species management, during the treatment, and after the work was completed.

Our Forester and Operations Manager Jeremy took this photo of Horseshoe Prairie before OKES started working

Jeremy also took this photo shortly after the crew finished conducting invasive species management

Drone shot Mission Timber took of Horseshoe Prairie in the Spring after OKES cleared Sassafras (Sassafras spp.), Sumac (Rhus spp.), and other problematic species that were taking over the prairie

Mission Timber’s Drone view of Horseshoe Prairie at Fults Hill Nature Preserve

A Response to an Inaccurate “Opinion” about Invasive Species

By Rob Stroh

Edited by Andy West

I read an opinion article in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper a few months ago, and it has bugged me ever since so here is my response. It was an article about how we shouldn’t bother treating invasive species, because “Almost all species, at some point, arrived from somewhere else.” He was proclaiming that the government should not be spending money on a problem that will “fix itself”. His main argument was that invasive species are just “relative newcomers” and if they would have arrived 100,000 years ago they would have naturalized by now. I agree with him. It is true exotic species have not changed, but what has is the number of exotics arriving and the ecosystems that are here to greet them.

In order to explain let’s put ourselves in the role an exotic species that arrived 100,000 years ago. We would first have to make the long trip from Europe to North America before humans traveled from continent to continent. If we made it a crossed the vast ocean, a 3,475-mile journey, we would have accomplished an extraordinary feat! However, when we arrived it was to a land that hadn’t been affected by humans. Ecosystems functioned the way they should and all niches were filled. This would make it difficult for us to find the resources we need to survive. Compounding the problem, if the climate wasn’t right for all of us to flourish, many of us would die. If a strong few had the right traits to necessary to survive and we were lucky enough to find a niche that could be exploited, we would be able to establish a population. This would have been very unlikely occurrence.

Eileen Eck controlling a garlic mustard population at Larue Pine Hills in southwest Illinois

Eileen Eck treating a garlic mustard infestation at LaRue-Pine Hills in southwest Illinois

Why wouldn’t it be the same for exotic species today if we give them enough time? There are some differences in this story told above and the story told today. The first is the ease with which species are now transported. Everyday exotic species make that 3,475-mile journey by catching rides in the cargo and ballast water of ships and more are brought over as garden plants, or for erosion control. Not all of these exotic plant become invasive. However, it only takes one species to severely alter a native ecosystem. The second difference is the shape of our current environment. At the time of European settlement approximately 307,000 acres of wetlands, 19.5 million acres of prairie and 14.7 million acres of forest existed here. To date we have lost 90% of the wetlands, 99.9% of prairie communities, and 36% of our forests. (IDNR, 1996)  Healthy, functional ecosystems have been converted to farms and urban areas. I’m not knocking agriculture and cities. Civilization as we know it wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for our ability to feed ourselves and live together. However, we must acknowledge that we have changed the dynamics of our ecosystems. Ecosystems affected by humans are weaker and dysfunctional. Gaps left in destabilized ecosystems are vulnerable to colonization by invasive species. In my opinion, since we are responsible for making the mess, we are responsible for cleaning it up as well!

Invasive species are vastly different than our native plants and animals. By taking advantage of our weakened ecosystems, they multiply uncontrollably, and rob resources to form massive monocultures that drastically change the dynamics of our native ecosystems. So something needs to be done. We can’t sit back and witness the collapse of our natural areas.  Mistakes and accidents happen, but we are still responsible for the mistakes we make.

For more information on the species of plants are currently invading our state. Visit this site for a full list of the invasive species in Illinois


Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 1996. Illinois Land Cover, An Atlas. Critical Trends Assessment Project –                            Phase 2. Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, Illinois.

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