Springbrook Prairie and Belleau Woods Receive Nature Preserve Designation

Three sites within the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County were recently granted state nature preserve status by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. Parts of Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville were designated as state nature preserve, and parts of Belleau Woods Forest Preserve in Wheaton and a smaller site within Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve were granted state land and water reserve status.

The District began the process for approval of special state protection in the summer of 2012. Only high quality natural areas are eligible for nature preserve designation.

The 118-acre Belleau Woods Land and Water Reserve lies north and south of Roosevelt Road. Its 300 species of native plants grow among an upland oak forest, floodplain forest and prairie, which have remained undeveloped since the District received the land in 1965. Three species of sensitive forest birds and 18 species of woodland birds have been confirmed as breeding. Numerous Illinois species in greatest need of conservation and regionally rare species of birds, mammals and native plants have also been found here.

Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve contains the largest grassland community in DuPage County and has one of the healthiest streams in the area. Springbrook Prairie Nature Preserve and Springbrook Marsh Land & Water Reserve, both within Springbrook Prairie, comprise 1,650 of the preserve’s 1,824 acres and supports 11 threatened species of birds, including short-eared owls and northern harriers.

Over 2,645 acres of District land has been protected as state nature preserve or land and water reserve, or 11% of the District’s total holdings. This includes parts of Churchill Woods in Glen Ellyn, West Chicago Prairie in West Chicago, Pratt’s Wayne Woods in Wayne, Meacham Grove in Bloomingdale, Des Plaines Riverway in Burr Ridge and Swift Prairie in Addison.

District ordinances already dictate the preservation of rich, natural habitats, but nature preserve status would provide an extra layer of protection for future generations. The District would continue to own, manage and maintain these areas as it has in the past, but individuals who destroyed natural resources or violated other regulations would be subject to state penalties. At Springbrook Prairie, the off-leash dog area, model-aircraft field and picnic areas would not be part of the nature preserve and would continue to operate as they do today. Within the nature preserve area, however, dogs, horses and bicycles would need to remain on the maintained trails, a requirement similar to current District regulations.

The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission helps private and public landowners protect high-quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species through voluntary dedication. Statewide, these areas are home to more than 20 percent of Illinois’ endangered species. For more on the nature preserves system, visit the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission's web page at http://dnr.state.il.us/inpc.

Image © FPDDC

This map outlines the nature preserve areas at Belleau Woods and Springbrook Prairie forest preserves.

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