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 33rd year in 2009 and served as host to the 1998 National Walnut Council meeting and will host the 2012 meeting.
Tree Research Area (founded in 1976); located at Forest Glen Preserve:
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 next boxes.
Savanna Restoration Area; a 22 acre site adjoining the Doris Westfall Prairie Nature
Preserve; joint project of Eastern Illinois Univ. Botany Dept., V.C.C.D., and Illinois
Native Plant Society; goal is to reestablish one of Illinois' most endangered ecotypes,
the "oak savanna".