Through diverse research projects, the Prarie Research Institute benefits the environment and citizens of Illinois.
1. Providing critical expertise on infrastructure projects
The Prairie Research Institute works statewide with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) on all infrastructure projects. Natural history scientists identify wetlands and survey the plants and animals present in areas of road and bridge work. Geologists evaluate potential environmental hazards and determine how these hazards may affect IDOT’s plans for future land use. Archaeologists assess how improvements and expansion of transportation infrastructure may impact archaeological sites and cultural heritage. In effect, IDOT can't proceed with new bridges, highways or infrastructure projects without the help of the Prairie Research Institute.
2. Contributing essential data to public projects
Through the usage of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technologies, the Illinois State Geological Survey provides high-resolution digital elevation data for all Illinois counties. This data helps communities understand flood risk, analyze watersheds, evaluate habitats, and make other land-use decisions and is available online, free of cost.
3. Keeping cultural resources intact
Archaeologists and scientists from the Prairie Research Institute helped the Forest Preserves District of Cook County create a master plan for management of its cultural and archaeological resources. Additionally, they provided advising on management of natural resources, restoration activities, removing invasive species, improving habitat for native species. PRI archaeologists surveyed over 4,020 acres of land and found thousands of archaeological artifacts ranging from pottery to stone tools.
4. Evaluating the condition of Illinois’ forests, wetlands and grasslands
The Critical Trends Assessment Program monitors the biological condition of Illinois' forests, wetlands and grasslands. Stakeholders are provided with information on past and current conditions of different types of land in the state with help from the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Prairie Research Institute. This program is supported by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and is the first comprehensive state-wide assessment of its kind.
5. Providing data on mines and groundwater
The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) provides records of more than 700,000 wells drilled throughout Illinois. This includes about 300,000 water wells and 170,000 oil and gas-related wells. It also offers an online Coal Mines in Illinois viewer to help landowners understand the consequences of their proximity to mines.
To learn more about the Prarie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, visit their website to explore more projects.