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Video series about Illinois forests

 
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I just found a nice set of videos about Illinois forestry HERE:

https://www.youtube.com/@illinoisextensionforestry602/videos

While it is specific to Illinois, the lessons apply to much of the United States.  The presenter spent much of his time on Southern Illinois, the most wooded area of the state.  He explained how Southern Illinois has an extremely diverse forestry setting, with applications lying to many other regions of the country.  I found the video interesting, particularly this one HERE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zFaKuX8xeM

This second video explains the long-term history of forests in Illinois, how they have changed and how they are doing today (mostly he likes their condition).  It was interesting to see just how much forestry is in this prairie state.


Eric
 
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Talk about diving down a rabbit hole!
I first watched the one about pruning. I’m glad to see that the methods I learned on my own, with plenty of mistakes along the way, are correct.
Thanks for posting this!
 
Eric Hanson
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You are certainly welcome Jeff!!

I have been a lifelong resident of Illinois, but in two distinct regions.  For my childhood years I grew up in the plains of Illinois where I envied anyone who even had a tree in their backyard!  I did spend some time in Southern Illinois and got to know it’s beautiful forests and hills.  

By chance I went to college in Southern Illinois and absolutely fell in love with the region.  By even further chance I spent my entire career in Southern Illinois, having now spent more time in the southern part of the state than the rest.

When I found this video I was intrigued.  Of course I am familiar with the Southern Illinois forests and hills and the flat expanse of Central Illinois farmland, but I did not realize that even today there is quite a bit of forest land left over in the land otherwise put to crops.

Glad you liked it!!

Eric
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:....  For my childhood years I grew up in the plains of Illinois where I envied anyone who even had a tree in their backyard!  I did spend some time in Southern Illinois and got to know it’s beautiful forests and hills.  



Eric,   What region of Illinois is considered 'plains'?....I'm assuming it would have been tall-grass prairie before you arrive at the Mississippi River?  Or was it on the eastern side of the state?  I spent some schooling years in southern WI and just figured that most everything east of the great river was woodland except where it had been logged and converted to farmland many decades ago.  On the other hand, I do recall my father mentioning hunting pheasants on the Kettle Moraine areas not far from Milwaukee, WI, so open grassland certainly was to be found for sure.  A friend during school mentioned that his mother was a professor at Southern Illinois U. in Carbondale and his descriptions of the woodlands there really made me want to visit that area some day but never got around to it....now living so far from there.  Sounds like a great location!
 
Eric Hanson
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Hi John,

So prior to Columbian times, Northern and Central Illinois were a roughly 50-50 mixture of tall grass prairie and forest.  And it was not exactly natural.  Native Americans used fire to extensively modify their surroundings, with any path of ground transitioning between grass prairie, Savanna, Open Forest and Dark Forest over the course of several decades to a couple of centuries.

Southern Illinois was a bit different as it is ruggedly hilly and not so conducive to human modification—at least for Paleolithic Stone Age peoples.  As a result, the forests grew taller and thicker.

European-American inhabitation changed things, largely because of greater and constantly improving technology combined with settlement as opposed to nomadic existence.  Forests were cut (especially in Central and Northern Illinois), used for lumber, fuel, or just to clear land for crops.  Southern Illinois lost Forest cover as well but not as much.  The worst period was from about 1880-1920.  

The good news is that since 1920, forests have significantly recovered.  And you are right about Southern Illinois, it is a real hidden gem.  There is a barely known national forest—the Shawnee National Forest—that dominates the landscape.  I live immediately to the north of the Shawnee National Forest.  The area is hilly and beautiful.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Also for context, I live just outside Carbondale and I teach there.

Eric
 
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Eric, I’m also an Illanoyan. But up near the Wisconsin line. Southern Il is indeed nice, much like the Missouri Ozarks where we lived for a time.
I also like the hilly woodlands of the NW corner of the state ~ Jo Daviess County, that was spared the last glacier.

I enjoyed the video where he talked about the effects of the most recent glaciers on the state’s geography/geology. We live tucked up near one of the westernmost of the long glacial ridges/terminal morraines the Wisconsonian glaciers left.
In fact, the second highest point in the state is less than a mile from us. In the panic after 9/11, the .gov built a supersecret radar station there.

Because of that, there is some nice relief, and quite a lot of forest land, which helps break up the corn and bean fields.

It is quite mind boggling just how much rock was scoured off the Canadian shield, ground into gravel and sand, and moved down here like a giant conveyor belt. And when the conveyor stopped, it left huge deposits. There is a lot of gravel mining done around here.

Aaand, what I learned in geoligy courses at UI is a little bit sobering. We are only in a warm pause between glaciers. A few hundred thousand years from now, this area may once again be under a mile of ice.
 
John Weiland
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Eric Hanson wrote:.....you are right about Southern Illinois, it is a real hidden gem.  There is a barely known national forest—the Shawnee National Forest—that dominates the landscape.  I live immediately to the north of the Shawnee National Forest.  The area is hilly and beautiful.
Eric



One of the better uses of the marriage between drone technology and the internet is the ability to find overhead video of such wonderful places and spaces.  There are some decent videos made across the Shawnee Natl. Park to wet the hiking appetite of any outdoor adventurer.  Because we in the midwest 'fly-over' states tend not to have have proper mountains to speak of, river valleys and glacial hills are our landscape relief.  Even that patchwork of corn and soybeans in Iowa gives way to some interesting valleys, mostly tributaries to the the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers flanking the state.  When my wife and I moved to the flat FLAT Red River Valley in northern Minnesota, we joked about downhill skiing on the sugarbeet piles just to bring back the memories of living in the Western states for a spell. :-)  And to stay on the topic of forests in flatland, there is indeed downhill skiing in North Dakota....one beautiful spot being in the Pembina River Gorge, that swings into NE North Dakota from Canada.  But, with the exception of this current mild winter, I can't help but be a bit envious of the shorter winter and more mature forests of your location in southern Illinois.  (And also not far from Cahokia Mounds, yes?)
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

It would appear that we have more geography in common than at first appeared.  My grandparents lived in that unbelievably flat sugar beat growing zone.  Travis country near Herman, MN.    My wife hails from Freeport, IL, and I have family that lives in central Iowa.  And you are absolutely correct about Iowa not being flat, it has some nice, gently rolling terrain.  Central Illinois was terribly flat.

And again, you are right about SI being truly beautiful.  The Shawnee National Forest is barely known outside the region.  But in my opinion it has one downside—we get too little snow!  I know that may sound odd, but I absolutely love snow and I miss good, wind-blown Northern snow.

Eric
 
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