Environmental advocates are racing to try and save the Bell Bowl Prairie, a rare swath of Illinois prairie scheduled for destruction as part of the Chicago Rockford International Airport expansion.
Why it matters: It's part of just .0001% of prairie land remaining in the state.
- It supports a fragile ecosystem of endangered plant and animal life, including the black-billed cuckoo, the large-flowered penstemon and an important pollinator called the rusty patched bumblebee.
- Construction was halted when the bumblebee was spotted on the land this summer but is set to resume on Nov. 1.
The latest: Prairie advocate and Natural Land Institute executive director Kerry Leigh urged airport authorities to consider environmental mitigations such as permeable road surfaces to retain storm water in the area.
- Environmental advocates have sent thousands of letters to elected officials and a petition to Gov. JB Pritzker.
What they're saying: Prairie supporters floated an alternate concept Tuesday to redesign the path of the airport road to reduce wildlife destruction. But so far, Leigh tells Axios they have heard "nothing back."
- "We assume airport officials will not respond," Leigh said. "And it makes me sad that they do not understand the value of what's here."
The other side: Airport officials tell Axios they completed all of the environmental assessments required to build on the land and are working to relocate endangered plants, including the large-flowered beardtongue, prairie dandelion, prickly pear, aromatic aster and others.
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