Sunflowers at Illiniwek Forest Preserve serve crucial purpose

HAMPTON, Illinois-- The sunflowers at the Illiniwek Forest Preserve are in full bloom. They were planted four years ago by a forest preserve ranger to help serve an important purpose.

People love them for the photo opp but they're also helping pollinators like butterflies and bees, offering them a source of food.

Ross Smith says pollinators are declining in population at a drastic rate, putting agriculture and food sources at risk. He also planted a plot of native plants at the forest preserve to help boost pollinator numbers.

Besides helping out these little insects, Smith says they also add a pop of color.

"They make people happy," Smith says. "This is a pretty straight stretch of highway. So if they get people to slow down and check stuff out, they might come into the park and check stuff out, enjoy the public lands we have in Rock Island County."

Smith says the sunflowers will be in bloom through the middle of next week.

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