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Success Story

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative-Update

Publish Date
wooded area

Read ahead to find out more about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

Location: Cook County, Illinois Watershed: Lake Michigan Focus Area: Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s Turnbull Woods, Eggers Grove, Powderhorn Lake, and Powderhorn Prairie Time frame: 2017-2018 NRCS Investment: $70,700.00 Land Use: Wet Forest, Lake, Prairie and Sand Savannas and Marshes Conservation Practices: The newfound relationship and cooperative agreement provided funds to remove the invasive species, develop long-term management techniques to maintain control, and use outside help, staff, an

One of the ways USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Illinois accomplishes great things on the land is by working hand-in-hand with private landowners, local units of government, and other organizations. State Conservationist Ivan Dozier explains, “By developing cooperative agreements with partners, NRCS is part of many important improvements that benefit natural resources that are part of the Great Lakes right here in Illinois.” NRCS works with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County for the last three years to address problems associated with invasive species.

The Forest Preserves’ partnership with GLRI and NRCS has led to a sustained effort to restore highly valuable and rare natural communities along the southwestern rim of Lake Michigan. Because of the intense urbanization of this region, our natural areas have been disappearing and those that remain are subject to impacts. However, because the urbanization has been so recent, our natural areas retain excellent remnant character and are therefore highly restorable.

In 2018, with GLRI funds, we have been able to re-seed a valuable woodland, Turnbull Woods, which sits adjacent to the Chicago Botanic Garden and Mary Mix McDonald Woods. This woodland site is a highly visited and highly visible preserve located just north of Chicago. This work helps to heal the woodland after invasive brush removal.

We were also able to remove invasive brush at the globally rare dune-and-swale habitat at Powderhorn Prairie and Marsh Preserve. This is a biologically rich site that contain over 300 species of native plants and rare insects and fishes.

At Eggers Woods, we were able to remove invasive trees and brush from the western portion of the site – effectively removing the greatest pocket of invasive brush at the preserve. This has improved habitat and protected the entire preserve from future invasion. This project is so important for conservation in our region, turning back the damages of past decades and restoring three biological gems to their former glory.

The NRCS GLRI funds have been targeted for key work at critical sites. Because there is keen interest in these three sites, conservation goals have been established for each and these funds allowed us to address components of those goals. Although not sufficient to address all goals at once, these funds have been used strategically to impact the next phase of restoration, moving us closer to the end goals.

Two communities benefit the most directly from this work. The conservation community – including volunteers, Non-Government Organizations, and agencies (Calumet volunteers, Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, Audubon, NRC, INPC, ILDNR, USFWS, and others). They all benefit greatly by being able to restore key conservation areas in this rare landscape situated along a critical avian flyway. The other beneficiary are all the people who live and work in nearby local communities. They receive benefits from enhanced access to nature and the restoration of highly used open space. A win-win for everyone and everything involved!

According to Chip O’Leary, Deputy Director, Resource Management Department, “Work done in 2018 with NRCS has moved parts of three critical conservation areas in the Lake Michigan watershed into a state of greater ecological health, accomplishing goals we could not achieve without this partnership. Additionally, we have been able to imbed this work into a larger conservation plan to benefit the greater Calumet region working with a number of other conservation partners. This project has also helped us to provide a safer and more inviting venue for the public to experience nature in their own back yards.”


For more information, visit the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative webpage.