2018 Illinois Indigenous Plants Symposium

Shawnee Natural Areas: Hotspots of Diversity

April 13-15, 2018

John A. Logan Center for Business and Industry
800 Mary Logan Rd.
Carterville, IL
(Directions are at the bottom of this page)

Cost: $25.00 per person by March 31, 2018, $30.00 afterwards
(cost includes lunch)

Download Symposium Booklet (pdf)

Online registration (credit, debit, or Paypal)

To register by mail, download the symposium booklet. A registration form can be found on the last page

Registration Information and Policies

We accept registrations by mail, in person, or online. Registration fee includes a box lunch. We cannot guarantee lunch for registrations at the symposium site.

Registration Deadline April 10,2018
Register early to guarantee your spot and lunch for the conference.

Cancellations will be accepted until Friday March 16, 2018. NO REFUNDS AFTER MARCH 16, 2018.
Requests for refunds can be made in writing and sent to:
INPS – Southern Chapter
Attn: Symposium Registration
P.O. Box 271
Carbondale, IL 62903

The symposium is made possible by the southern chapter of the  Illinois Native Plant Society in collaboration with John A. Logan College, US Forest Service at the Shawnee National Forest, Southern Illinois University Department of Plant Biology, Green Earth, and University of Illinois Extension.


Friday, April 13, 2018
2:00 PM Guided Jackson Hollow Hike

Saturday, April 14, 2018
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Registration
9:00 AM: Opening remarks
9:05 AM – 10:00 AM: Keynote Address – Gerould Wilhelm
10:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Break/Visit Vendor Area
10:15 AM – 10:40 AM: Session I
10:45 AM – 11:20 AM: Session II
11:25 AM – 11:50 AM: Session III
11:50 AM – 1:20 PM: Lunch/Visit Vendor Area
1:25 PM – 1:55 PM: Session IV
2:00 PM – 2:35 PM: Session V
2:35 PM – 2:50 PM: Break/Visit Vendor Area
2:55 PM – 3:30 PM: Session VI
3:35 PM – 4:10 PM: Closing Remarks – Jody Shimp

Sunday, April 15, 2018
10:00 AM: Guided hike to Trillium Trail, Giant City State Park

Keynote Address: Dr. Gerould Wilhelm

Why are Natural Area Remnants Important to Save and Manage?

Dr. Wilhelm will discuss the unique and irreplaceable nature of remnant natural areas.  He will explain that all things made by Man rust and crumble; that they cannot replicate themselves.  Living things made by the Creator thrive in consilience with hundreds of other things in community; if properly understood and cared for they can replicate themselves. With each passing generation, with each passing season, the living world is subtly different from the previous iteration yet sublimely adapted to its place and time—a system continuously capable of adapting to the subtle vicissitudes of change at the rates at which mountains rise and fall; each species population and system can renew itself.  With every acre of remnant land we let languish with improper attention, replace with industrial-scale agriculture, urban and suburban development, and other such ephemeral artifacts, we diminish the earth’s vital capacity for renewal and condemn our posterity to a world of soullessness and diminished tomorrows. He will note that there is hope for Man if he readdresses himself to a congenial, nurturing relationship with the living world.

Understanding Natural Areas Track

Session I – Reflecting Upon the Protection of Natural Areas in the Shawnee National Forest
Andy West

Illinois has one of the Nation’s oldest natural area programs.  Since the late 1960s, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission staff worked to protect some of the finest examples of our state’s original landscape, Shawnee National Forest sites in the Shawnee and Ozark Hills of southern Illinois.  Later, the comprehensive Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (1975-1978) identified 79 sites on the Shawnee with significant natural areas, rare species habitats, and outstanding geological features.  In 1983, the Illinois Department of Conservation (predecessor of IDNR) presented protection and management recommendations to the Shawnee Forest Supervisor.  The Shawnee’s ecological areas, Research Natural Areas, and other protected sites are unique in the National Forest System; they are models of State-Federal cooperation. Today we reflect on the people, places, perceptions, and programs that inspired natural area preservation within the Shawnee.

Session II – Why Shawnee National Forest’s Natural Areas are Unique – in Biodiversity and in Management
Matt Lechner

Session III – Grassland Communities of Barrens and Hill Prairies
David Gibson

Grass-dominated ecosystems exists within the matrix of forests in southern Illinois. These Hill Prairies and Barrens are open environments that contain a rich diversity of native plants.  This presentation will cover the history of grassland communities of southern Illinois, discuss the classification of these communities and highlight some of the plant species that can be found within them.

Session IV – What’s in a Wetland? Preserving the Plant & Animal Communities of the Cache River Wetlands
Erin Medvecz

The awe-inspiring cypress-tupelo swamp is filled with hidden treasures. Rare plants abound and the diversity of insects astounds. This presentation will delve into the history of the swamp in southern Illinois and why its preservation is vital, focusing on the flora and fauna that thrive in this system.

Session V – Illinois Natural Areas Inventory Update: A Project to Find New Natural Areas in Illinois
Chris Benda

In 2008, an update to the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) was instituted and lasted for 3 years. This statewide, systematic scan for areas of high biological significance yielded almost 200 new high quality natural communities across the state. In southern Illinois, 50 new natural areas were proposed and are discussed in this presentation.

Session VI – Regional and Statewide Significance of Natural Areas on Shawnee National Forest
Bob Szafoni, Okaw Grove Ecological

Shawnee National Forest owns 80 designated Illinois Natural Areas totaling over 15,000 acres.  These Natural Areas support high quality natural communities and rare species habitats important to the conservation of biological diversity on Forest Service lands.  A Regional and Statewide analysis demonstrates that Shawnee Natural Areas are also extremely significant in protecting and maintaining biological diversity at these larger, landscape levels.  Indeed, for some natural communities and rare species, Shawnee NF Natural Areas support the only remaining examples of the state’s biodiversity in southern Illinois or the entire state of Illinois.

Getting more Technical Track

Session I – Setting Stewardship Priorities for Natural Areas on Shawnee National Forest
Bob Szafoni, Okaw Grove Ecological

Shawnee National Forest owns 80 designated Illinois Natural Areas totaling over 15,000 acres.  These sites present a significant challenge to managers who must assign limited resources to maintain and enhance these sites’ important and unique biological values.  Shawnee Natural Areas were scored on a number of factors and, through a multi-metric analysis, were divided into 3 levels of Planning and Stewardship Priority.   A separate Validation Process confirmed the results of the priority breakdown as provided by the assessment.  Suggestions for follow-up actions are provided.

Session II – Illinois’ extirpated flora with a focus on southern Illinois species.
Paul Marcum

While the number of species in the Illinois plants increases with every new addition to Mohlenbrock’s flora, the fact that species have and continue to become extirpated is often lost in the shuffle.  With well over 2,000 native plant species, Illinois is a very biodiverse state.  Habitat loss and loss of native species; however, have been great with more than 100 extirpated native plant species.

Session III – 35 years of changes to the natural areas of Southern Illinois
John Wilker

The Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) identifies high quality natural resources reminiscent of what Illinois may have looked like prior to European settlement. The Inventory was first completed in 1978 and has recently been updated allowing us to compare trends across 35 years. Results indicate that appropriate management can maintain quality of natural communities while lack of management leads to degradation of natural quality.

Session IV – Ecological Forest Restoration; Good for Plants, Good for Birds
Larry Heggemann, Central Hardwood Joint Venture, Delivery Coordinator

Larry will discuss the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture’s role in bird conservation in the region, their focus on ecological restoration and management of open woodland natural communities and how these fire-mediated forest habitats benefit several declining bird species.

Session V – Vegetation composition, structure, and diversity patterns of two dry sandstone barrens in southern Illinois
John Taft

Barrens, savanna-like openings in wooded landscapes, are gradually vanishing due to woody encroachment. This long-term study compares changes in the ground cover, shrub, and tree strata at Gibbons Creek Natural Area in Pope County treated with prescribed fire with a nearby fire-free control site. As predicted, ground-cover species richness and cover increase with fire and gradually decline at the control site. These changes are correlated to changes in density of woody plants. An emerging ground cover in closed barrens is a minor floristic subset of the open barrens, suggesting that species survival in the seed bank is selective. Unexpectedly, warm-season prairie grasses continue to decline at both study sites.

Session VI – The interactive effects of prescribed fire and stiltgrass on native tree regeneration in Shawnee National Forest
Ron Salemme

Prescribed fire is a tool that is commonly used by land managers worldwide for a variety of reasons ranging from reducing fuel loading to promoting the growth of fire-adapted species. Previous studies have found that stiltgrass has a positive feedback with fire resulting in increased fire intensities and higher stiltgrass biomass. This research focuses on that positive feedback and its effects on native tree regeneration in Shawnee National Forest.

Closing Remarks: Jody Shimp

Natural Areas on the Shawnee National Forest: a 30-year Chronology

The Shawnee National Forest is helping Illinois protect its natural heritage. It’s biologists, ecologists, botanists and other resource managers are, as prudent managers, concerned with preserving and enhancing biodiversity in their highest quality sites. This presentation will focus on the notable steps taken over the past 30 years to preserve, protect and manage the Forest’s natural areas. In addition, some thought will be given on the future natural areas on the Shawnee National Forest.

Friday, April 13, 2018, 2:00 P.M.

Trail Hike: Jackson Hollow – The Crown Jewel of Southern Illinois Canyons

Southern Illinois is filled with rugged sandstone canyons, each with its own blend of bluffs, waterfalls, rock shelters, glades, and boulders. Of these canyons, it’s hard to top Jackson Hollow northeast of Vienna for the sheer insanity of rock formations crammed into one hollow. This blog post was done in March of 2014. Read more and see photographs of the hollow on: www.semissourian.com/blogs/pavementends/entry/57431
Directions: From John A. Logan College in Carterville, take Highway 13 east towards Marion for 3.0 miles. Turn right (south) on Highway 148 and follow for 9.2 miles to Interstate 57. Follow Interstate 57 south for 0.5 miles then merge on to Interstate 24 south. Follow for 7 miles and exit on Tunnel Hill Road. Turn left (east) on Tunnel Hill Road for 6.7 miles to Highway 45. Turn left (north) on Highway 45 for 4 miles to Ozark. Turn right (east) on Ozark Road and follow for 6.4 miles to Trigg Tower Road. Turn right (south) and continue for 3 miles to the Jackson Hollow sign on the left (east) side of the road.

Download “Natural Areas of the Shawnee National Forest”

Sunday, April 15, 2018, 10:00 A.M. Trail Hike:

Trillium Trail At Giant City State Park

Interpretive Features Each season on Trillium Trail offers something different. In winter, many of the bluffs become visible and unique ice formations appear. In the spring, enjoy wildflowers and breathtaking waterfalls. Summer brings lush green vegetation and cool blasts of air from between the rocks. The fall delivers bright colors of leaves visible from the bluffs.
Directions: From John A. Logan College in Carterville, take Highway 13 west towards Carbondale for 5.1 miles to Giant City Road. Turn left (south) on Giant City Road and follow for 10 miles to Giant City State Park. Follow the signs in the park to the nature preserve where the Trillium Trail trailhead and parking lot is located.

Download “Giant City – Trillium Trail”


Speaker Biographies

Dr. Gerould Wilhelm is a botanist, taxonomist, and ecologist.  After an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology at Florida State University, and a stint as a conscript in the Army, he joined the staff of the Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, Illinois, in 1974.  He received his Ph.D. in botany in 1984 at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.  His dissertation focused on the vascular flora of the Pensacola Region in northwest Florida and southwestern Alabama.  Noted for his development of the Floristic Quality Assessment (FQA) methodology, which has become widely adapted for use in many states and provinces, he has co-authored with Laura Rericha, a compendium on local plants: “Flora of the Chicago Region: a Floristic and Ecological Synthesis,” which includes insects and other animals that have direct relationships with the 3149 local plant species.  He is also engaged in the study of the lichens of the Chicago region.

K. Andrew (Andy) West has worked in conservation for more than 40 years.  He served as a district biologist for Illinois DNR’s Natural Heritage Division in southern Illinois for 15 years, then was site superintendent of Trail of Tears State Forest for another 15. Following the 2005 IDNR purge, he worked briefly as a technician and a botanist/ecologist for the Shawnee National Forest, then 3 years as a wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.  He returned to southern Illinois in 2009 to found Ozark Koala Ecosystem Services, a natural resource management and consulting company. While with IDNR, he (with Max Hutchison of the INPC) conducted an extensive survey in 1981 of the Shawnee National Forest’s natural areas, then wrote and submitted protection and management reports for those sites in 1983.  He has a BA and MA in botany, and an interdisciplinary PhD (Zoology, Forestry, Political Science, and Law) from SIU Carbondale. K. Andrew West, is the Proprietor of Ozark Koala Ecosystem Services, Marion, Illinois

Bob Szafoni has over 30 years’ experience in natural areas identification and stewardship.  He has written plans and/or implemented stewardship on natural community types statewide.  He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from University of Illinois and is retired from the IL Department of Natural Resources where he served as the Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Project Manager for over 10 years.  Prior to that he was an IDNR Natural Heritage Biologist and has worked at the Illinois Natural History Survey.  He currently is an ecological consultant, land trust board member, as well as managing his own woodland in east-central Illinois.

Matt Lechner serves as the Natural Resources Program Manager for the Shawnee National Forest. Matthew has worked for the Forest for the past 15 years with a strong focus on ecological restoration and natural area management. Past positions include serving as an aquatic ecologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Austin Texas and Forest Fish Biologist for the Sequoia National Forest. Matthew has a Master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University.

Paul Marcum is a life member and current President of the Illinois Native Plant Society (INPS) and is a representative from the Forest Glen Chapter. He has been active on the INPS board since 2008. Professionally, Paul is the Assistant Project Leader for Botany with the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) Wetland Science Program. In this capacity he co-coordinates activities within the group and conducts environmental surveys for potential Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) projects. Paul has been fortunate to research and publish numerous manuscripts and technical reports on Illinois natural areas and rare species. He received a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Marshall University (Huntington, WV) in 1999 and a B.S. in Natural Science from Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, OH) in 1996. His master’s thesis was titled: Clarification of the hybrid origin of Carex x deamii Herm. (Cyperaceae), based on macro- and micro-morphological characters.

David Gibson is Distinguished Professor of Plant Biology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He teaches courses on grasslands, plant population ecology, principles of ecology, and forensic botany, and conducts research on plant population and community ecology of grasslands and forests, with a focus on community assembly and exotic species. He is author of two books, including Grasses and Grassland Ecology published by Oxford University Press.

John Wilker holds Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and Master’s Degree in Plant Biology from SIUC. John has been employed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources since 1995. He is the current Natural Areas Program Manager with over 22 years of experience identifying, managing and conserving natural communities. He also has 15 years of experience teaching biology and field ecology at Lincoln Land Community College and University of Illinois at Springfield as adjunct faculty.

Erin Medvecz is a University of Illinois Extension Educator in Energy and Environmental Stewardship at University of Illinois Extension and Secretary of the southern chapter of the Illinois Native Plant Society. Erin has a Master’s degree in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the College of Saint Benedict. Her research and work has focused on invasive species and prairie ecosystems, yet a short-term position with IDNR at the Cache River Wetlands Center expanded her horizons to include wetland communities.

Larry Heggemann received a BS in Wildlife Management from the University of Missouri, Columbia and has over 35 years of experience in managing both public and private lands as a wildlife biologist and private land conservationist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. In his position as the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture Delivery Coordinator, he is focused on working with partner agencies and NGOs to implement conservation programs and projects critical to achieving the Joint Venture’s bird habitat and population goals for the Central Hardwoods Region. This includes work related to the restoration and management of hardwood forest and woodlands in the southern Illinois region.

Chris D. Benda is a botanist and past president of the Illinois Native Plant Society (2015-2016). A native of Minnesota, Chris moved to Illinois from California in 2004 and received a Master’s Degree in Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign in 2007. He was a regional ecologist for the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory Update in southern Illinois from 2008-2012. Chris teaches the Flora of Southern Illinois at Southern Illinois University in the summer and a variety of classes at The Morton Arboretum. He is an accomplished photographer and author of several publications about natural areas in Illinois. He is also known as Illinois Botanizer and can be reached by email at botanizer@gmail.com

Dr. John Taft recently retired as the Botany Coordinator for the Biological Surveys and Assessment Program, University of Illinois – Illinois Natural History Survey. His principal duties with the Biological Surveys Group include coordination of the botanical survey program.

Ron Salemme earned his B.S. in Forestry from Humboldt State University and his M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois. His research focuses on the interactive effects of non- native grass invasion and prescribed burning on tree regeneration, and prescribed burning effects on soil carbon cycling in eastern deciduous forests.

Jody Shimp has been working in Illinois natural areas for the past thirty years as a volunteer, researcher, ecologist, and administrator. Jody spent a majority of his career working as a biologist and administrator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Natural Heritage. Currently, he is working with the Shawnee Resource, Conservation, and Development Area as a coordinating an effort to restore oak ecosystems in southern Illinois. He completed a M. S. in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1996. Shimp is a life member of the Illinois Native Plant Society and is serving on the Board of the Southern Chapter. Shimp has also served on the Board of Directors for the Natural Areas Association.


Vendor Registration

Educational Exhibit, no sales (display table) – $50
Vendor with items for sale (1/4 page ad and display table) – $100
Sponsor (1/2 page ad, display table, and 1 complimentary lunch) – $200
Booklet advertising only (Business card size) – $50

Online Registration (credit, debit, or Paypal)

Mail-In Registration (cash or check)

We will provide one (1) table 4′ x 8′ for your display.

If you have any questions, please contact: indigenousplants@hotmail.com


From I-57 in Marion (east), go west on Illinois Route 13. Turn right on Greenbriar Rd– there is a traffic light, school sign, but no street sign. Turn right on Logan College Rd, then make 1st left on Mary Logan Rd. Make the second right on Mary Logan Road. The center is at the end of the parking lot. Follow the signs to the atrium.

From Carbondale (west) go east on Illinois Route 13. Turn left on Greenbriar Rd – at the traffic light, school sign. Proceed same as above.