The Division of Natural Heritage identifies and tracks high-quality natural areas, endangered and threatened species, and other rare natural features. Field staff conduct field surveys and monitor natural communities and endangered and threatened species. The Natural Heritage Database tracks the status and location of Endangered and Threatened Species while the Illinois Natural Area Inventory identifies and tracks high-quality natural areas. The Wildlife Preservation Fund also supports monitoring and research of Illinois' natural heritage.
The Division strives to protect areas it has identified as high-quality natural communities, habitat for endangered and threatened species, and rare natural features. By working with the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission, these areas can be protected as Nature Preserves, Land and Water Reserves, or Natural Heritage Landmarks. Information collected by the Division identifies high-priority areas for protection and guides public land acquisition.
The Division also protects Illinois' endangered and threatened species. The Endangered Species Protection Board designates species as endangered or threatened and advises on their protection. The species are protected under the Illinois Endangered Species Act by restricting the possession, harm, and trade of the species.
The Division defends protected threatened and endangered species and natural areas against numerous threats. The Natural Heritage Database provides information for natural resource review of development projects in EcoCAT. The Endangered Species Program regulates the possession and taking of threatened and endangered species. Field staff monitor protected natural areas for threats and damage to their natural condition.
The Division works to maintain, restore, and recover Illinois' natural heritage. Field staff conduct prescribed fires, remove invasive species, and otherwise manage natural areas that would lose their unique characteristics and quality without these efforts. The division prepares and conducts endangered species recovery plans, along with the Endangered Species Protection Board and the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. Such efforts may include biological research, habitat improvement/creation, as well as species reintroduction.