Fulton County is located in the U.S. State of Illinois. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 883 square miles, of which 866 square miles are land and 17 square miles 1.92% are water. The largest city in the County is Canton and the smallest is Marbletown which contains one house.
Fulton County is positioned in west central Illinois between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The County is bounded on the southeast by the Illinois River. The topography is made up mostly of rolling farmland that is well known for corn, soybean, and livestock production. The area also contains wooded areas, rivers, lakes, and streams. Significant wetlands are preserved along the Illinois River. The Emiquon wetland complex was recently designated as a wetland of international importance.
Although the County is agricultural in nature, the majority of employment is in the educational services, medical and healthcare fields. These are followed by jobs in retail sales, manufacturing, and construction.
The County is served by U.S. Routes 24 and 136, and Illinois Routes 9, 41, 78, 95, 97, 100, and 116. The County contains one public-use airport: Ingersoll Airport (CTK), located in Canton. In addition, Fulton County is located just 30 minutes from Peoria International Airport and access to Interstate 74.
Political districts in Fulton County include: Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, State House District 91, State House District 94, State Senate District 46, and State Senate District 47.
Invasive alien species are plants, animals, or other organisms that are introduced to a given area outside their original range that cause harm in their new home. Because they have no natural enemies to limit their reproduction, they usually spread rampantly. Invasive alien species are recognized as one of the leading threats to biodiversity and impose enormous costs to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and other human enterprises, as well as to human health. The cost to control invasive species and the damages they inflict upon property and natural resources in the U.S. is estimated at $137 billion annually.
Illinois has been invaded by a number of harmful exotic plants and animals. Listed below is a quick look at some of the worst current and potential invaders listed by name, type, origin, and extent of damage.
Asian Carp – Fish – Southeast Asia: Asian carp is a term that refers to several species of carp introduced to North America with varying degrees of harm. Some, such as the common goldfish, pose little harm while others, such as the bighead, silver, and black carp pose larger harm. Silver and bighead carp are filter-feeding fish and consume plant and animal plankton. Asian carp can grow to large sizes; some as large as 110 pounds, though the average size is around 30-40 pounds. Bighead and silver carp are voracious eaters, capable of eating 5-20 percent of their body weight each day. They consume plankton—algae and other microscopic organisms—stripping the food web of the key source of food for native fish. Black carp differ in that they consume primarily mollusks, and threaten native mussel populations. They can grow to seven feet in length and over 100 pounds.
Zebra Mussel – Mollusk – Caspian Sea region of Asia: accidentally released in 1988 from ship ballast water into Lake St. Clair, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio Rivers, Lake Michigan, & 20 other lakes. Voracious filter feeders that out-compete native animals; fouls boats & clogs intake pipes at power plants and municipal water sources.
Dutch Elm Disease – Fungus – Asia: one strain of the disease arrived in the 1930s in Cleveland, OH on infected elm logs from Europe; a more virulent strain arrived in the 1940s. American elms originally ranged in all states east of Rockies- most of this area is infested. Elms were once the nation’s most popular urban street tree but have now largely disappeared from both urban and forested landscapes. It is estimated that Dutch Elm Disease has killed over 100 million trees.
Gypsy Moth – Insect – Europe: imported for silk production to the East Coast; escaped captivity in 1860s; found primarily in northeastern Illinois; Lake County was quarantined; serious defoliator of oaks and other forest and urban trees; biological controls have been fairly successful against it.
Pine Shoot Beetle – Insect – Europe: first detected in the U.S. in a Christmas tree farm in Ohio in 1992; present in parts of 12 states in the Midwest and East Coast; attacks new shoots of pine trees, stunting their growth; may also attack stressed pine trees by breeding beneath the bark at their base.
Soybean Aphid – Insect – Asia: first detected in the U.S. in 2000; found in Wisconsin, Michigan, Northern Illinois, & Eastern Minnesota; capable of extensive damage to soybeans and also a vector of a number of plant virus diseases.
Garlic Mustard – Weed – Europe: brought by settlers as a vitamin-rich winter herb; ranges from Canada south to Virginia and west to Kansas and Nebraska; grows earlier in spring than native plants, allowing it to dominate forest understory and crowd out natives.
Federal, State, and local government agencies need to work together to implement and enforce existing policies and procedures, and strive to make prevention a top priority.