Destruction of an Ancient Prairie in Rockford, Illinois

sent to Earth First! Newswire

On March 9, 2023 in Rockford, Illinois construction at Chicago Rockford International Airport, began to expand its cargo plane capacity and destroy part of the “Bell Bowl Prairie”.

The $50 million expansion would expand its cargo capacity by 50,000 square feet, servicing tenants like Amazon and UPS. A new cargo bay and its service roads would sever the already diminished prairie, which is home to countless wildflowers, song birds, and even the federally endangered rusty patched bumblebee.

After being stalled by activists and petitions for over a year, they rush to lay the groundwork before March 15th – as they will be forced to halt construction between March and October when the federally endangered rusty patched bumble bee will begin foraging on the prairie (as it has done for thousands of years). As more and more construction equipment arrives in the next week or so, it will force the parties involved to question what more could have been done?

The new “revised” plan, signed off by the The Federal Aviation Administration, boasts how it will “save” and additional 6.2 acres of prairie compared to the original….while simultaneously building a road through the section found to be the highest quality and most ecologically diverse. Carved by the retreat of the last glaciers, the ancient “Bell Bowl Prairie” predates this airport by several millennia. Since then, the midwest prairie ecosystem has already been reduced to barely 5% of its original size by some counts, and to an unbelievable 1/100 of 1% in the state of Illinois.

In this moment of grief, I am forced to grapple with what is being sacrificed in the name of business. Hundreds of thousands of years of irreplaceable connections between soil, roots, fungi, and all things that rely on them, to be destroyed in a blink of an eye. This image of bulldozers and excavators conjured up a profound sense of anger and hatred I haven’t had much time to sit with. But, I realize the stark difference between us and them. This anger rises because I value life, because I love the birds and the bees. Something they will never, ever understand.

Posted in Biodiversity Loss, Infrastructure, News, Ports.

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