Because southern Illinois is so resource rich, there a wide variety of federal, state and nongovernmental groups with interests here. Often, these groups may be available to help private landowners as well. Currently, groups partnering with Let the Sun Shine In include:
Mission: To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
Landowners interested selling property that is within the purchase boundary of the Shawnee National Forest should contact the Forest Service.
The Forest Service also supports and helps guide forest restoration work on private lands adjacent to the Shawnee National Forest through various ‘cross-boundary’ grants.
Mission: We work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
In the past, the Fish and Wildlife Service has supported and helped guide forest restoration work on private lands in the Let the Sun Shine In project area through ‘open canopy’ grants.
Mission: We deliver conservation solutions so agricultural producers can protect natural resources and feed a growing world.
Landowners with questions about USDA forest restoration programs are encouraged to contact their local NRCS office. There are several program options and there is often grant funding to help off-set landowner cost-share payments.
Mission: To manage, conserve and protect Illinois’ natural, recreational and cultural resources, further the public’s understanding and appreciation of those resources, and promote the education, science and public safety of Illinois’ natural resources for present and future generations.
Landowners should contact their District Forester with questions about forest management, forest management planning, and for guidance on enrolling land in the FDA program.
Mission: Conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.
Landowners interested selling property that is within the Let the Sun Shine In project area should contact The Nature Conservancy of Illinois.
Mission: The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
Landowners specifically interested in NWTF programs should contact the NWTF District Biologist for Illinois or the NWTF Forester for southern Illinois.
Mission: To provide practical education you can trust to help people, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future.
University of Illinois Extension Forestry organizes educational events, produces publications, and conducts applied research on forest management issues. The Extension Forestry program also provides technical assistance to landowners.
Mission: To provide leadership and organization to varied grassroots organizations who need help executing vital conservation work, while providing a trustworthy avenue for federal and state partners to accomplish big picture goals in Southernmost Illinois through an experienced grant partner.
Landowners with general questions about Let the Sun Shine In can contact the Program Coordinator.
Mission: To act on issues that impact rural and community forests and to promote forestry throughout Illinois.
Landowners that join the IFA have access to a wide variety of benefits and resources and connections to other landowners and forestry professionals.
Mission: To overcome the barriers preventing landowners from using prescribed fire, including liability concerns, lack of training and equipment, limited resources and the absence of a crew.
Landowner members of SIPBA receive 1) Professional guidance and assistance with burn preparation, 2) Quality training in every aspect of prescribed fire management, 3) Access to specialized prescribed burn equipment, and 4) Assistance on burns from experienced and well-trained crews
Mission: To cooperatively address the short and long-term effects of non-native invasive plants across jurisdictional boundaries within the 11 southern counties of Illinois.
The CWMA provides cost-share assistance for invasive species control (when available), educational materials, and public outreach through workshops and training days for private landowners and managing agencies.
A Vision for the Future
Oak-dominated forests cover hundreds of thousands of acres in; Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky, making-up an area known as the ‘central hardwoods’. These oak forests support many other species directly or indirectly – from deer and turkeys, to migrating songbirds, to wildflowers and pollinators. As such, a loss of oaks would be bad news for the species that depend on them.
The Let the Sun Shine In program is making great conservation strides in Illinois and is poised to do big things. As these successes continue to mount, we look forward to exporting this cutting-edge approach to neighboring states with oak forests and similar problems. And that could add up to letting a lot of sun shine into oak forests and making a BIG Difference!!