When AES assessed the IDNR-designated Illinois Natural Area remnant on the private property of the Stronghold Retreat Center, the landowner understood their role as steward of this ecological jewel. In response, the Retreat Center engaged AES to conduct a comprehensive Natural Resource Inventory and Ecosystem Management Plan for the historic 326-acre property.
The property occupies picturesque forested blufflands of the Rock River in Northern Illinois, featuring unique savanna and hill prairie communities harboring some of the state’s most rare biological diversity. Investigations included mapping of natural and cultural features, and floristic quality and ecosystem health assessments.
Among the goals of the plan is the stewardship of healthy and attractive ecological settings that will continue to provide a naturally beautiful and inspirational setting for the Stronghold environmental education, and camp and retreat activities.
The plan also integrates ecosystem management principles into the site’s sustainable timber management program, balancing the need to protect critical habitat for regional and migratory songbirds and other wildlife, and important educational and recreational opportunities.
AES developed an extensive Geospatial Database using high-resolution aerial imagery for conducting field interpretation and mapping investigations, and as a tool for long-term management and education.
- Upland Habitat Assessment
- Natural Resource Inventory
- Natural Resource Management Planning
- Aerial Imagery + Mapping
- Geospatial Data Management
- Threatened + Endangered Species
Ecosystems Management Plan | Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center