Botanists in the Biological Surveys and Assessment Program conduct surveys within IDOT project areas throughout Illinois for significant botanical resources. Individual project areas range in size from only a few acres to tens-of-thousands of acres that span several counties, and commonly encompass numerous native vegetation types in a variety of habitat conditions.
Two primary objectives of these botanical surveys are to search for species listed as threatened or endangered by the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board and to identify natural areas with remnant vegetation types that retain composition and structure similar to pre-European settlement conditions. Natural communities such as these often harbor many of the state’s rarest plant species. Our surveys have contributed many new records of threatened and endangered species and high-quality natural communities throughout the state.
Communities surveyed can range from wetlands, such as calcareous seeps, bottomland forests, and marshes, to dry upland habitats such as woodlands, prairies, and cliffs. Habitats in IDOT project areas are characterized regardless of condition, but when native plant communities are found that possess noteworthy quality, detailed floristic surveys are conducted. Data collection includes taking GPS coordinates for mapping, completing a thorough species lists for each vegetation type, and collecting plant specimens for documentation. These surveys help IDOT grow and maintain our transportation infrastructure in a way that helps ensure our most irreplaceable natural resources are preserved for future generations.