The Hine’s Emerald is the only dragonfly on the US endangered species list. It was placed on the Illinois State List of Endangered Species in 1991 and placed on the Federal Endangered Species List in 2005. At one time, the Hine’s emerald was
probably found in Indiana. However, it has not been observed in Indiana recently. This dragonfly spends its larval life (2-4 years) in shallow wetlands. In the US, many wetlands have been drained for development, a process that has destroyed much of the habitat for this dragonfly. The Hine’s Emerald is currently confined to Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. One of the sites in Illinois is McMahon Woods, just Southwest of Midway Airport.
A $500,000 grant was recently awarded to restore habitat for the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly. This meant logging a number of trees and returning part of McMahon Woods back into McMahon marsh, the natural state of the area. The trees, in the area were a result of human intervention in the natural ecosystem. The original marshland site was converted into farms, then abandoned and allowed to grow into a woodlot. Removal of the trees have caused concern among some nearby residents who worry about habitat for birds and other wildlife. However, the trees interfere with the drainage and formation of rivulets in the soil that are the oviposition sites for the dragonflies.
Managing habitat is critical to support endangered species. It is a complicated task. People rarely agree about land use. However, attempts to preserve our biodiversity require habitat restoration.