The Vermilion County Conservation District conducts the most extensive forestry research projects of any conservation and forest preserve district in Illinois. College interns utilize the Tree Research Area at Forest Glen Preserve as an outdoor laboratory. The TRA celebrates its 38th year in 2014 and has served as host to the 1998 and 2012 National Walnut Council meeting.
Tree Research Area (founded in 1976); located at Forest Glen Preserve:
- Black Walnut Demonstration Area shows growth differences for type of management applied (also plots on green ash, white oak, yellow poplar, red oak, sugar maple, sweet gum, and black cherry).
- Thinning studies.
- Illinois Walnut Council butternut planting and “super” walnut seed planting.
- National Walnut Council black walnut seed source study.
- Pollard demonstration.
- Nitrogen “fixing” plots, Univ. of Illinois Forestry Dept.
- Mulching demonstration.
- Tree shelters.
- Deer browse studies.
- Lacebark (Chinese) elm studies, Vermilion County Soil and Water Conservation
- Shiitake mushrooms (TRA site).
- NRCS Direct Seeding Demonstration Plot
- VCCD Foundation Memorial Forest
- Illinois Walnut Council seedling spacing study
- Hardwood Tree Improvement Regeneration Center (HTIRC) studies – Purdue University
Shiitake Mushroom Research (initiated in 1986); original site located at Kennekuk County Park; sites also at TRA and Michael G. Reddy Arboretum. The goal is to provide information to area woodland owners for an alternative cash product from thinned oak trees for timber stand improvement (TSI) purposes. The project utilizes many different strains and records best producing strains for eastern Illinois. Mushrooms are sold and provide income for the Vermilion County Conservation District Foundation who initially funded the project.
Michael G. Reddy Arboretum (founded in 1977); located at Forest Glen Preserve; a 40 acre arboretum of specimen plantings of trees and shrubs; tracks the hardiness zones of many trees not usually grown in Illinois; currently over 600 different species grown; specializes in native Illinois trees.
Joseph G. Ellis Habitat Area (founded in 1987); funded with an initial gift of the Joseph G. Ellis memorial fund; part of Michael G. Reddy Arboretum; 2 acre site which specializes in wildlife trees and shrubs suitable for backyard plantings; butterfly garden; bird nest boxes.
Savanna Restoration Area; a 22 acre site adjoining the Doris Westfall Prairie Nature Preserve; joint project of Eastern Illinois Univ. Botany Dept., VCCD, and Illinois Native Plant Society; goal is to reestablish one of Illinois’ most endangered ecotypes, the “oak savanna”.