Urban Stream Research Center at Blackwell Forest Preserve
Freshwater aquatic organisms are the top five most imperiled and vulnerable species in the United States. Freshwater mussels are at the top of the list. Limited facilities that are devoted to the study of stream systems and propagation of freshwater mussels exist in the U.S.
In 2008 the Forest Preserve District’s Board of Commissioners announced plans to build the Urban Stream Research Center at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville. The center opened in 2012 and is located near Spring Brook #1 Creek, near the preserve’s 13-acre recreational area and archery complex.
The Urban Stream Research Center — the only one of its kind in Illinois — serves as the Forest Preserve District’s facility for monitoring DuPage County’s streams and conducting research about water quality and aquatic species. At the center, ecologists plan to reintroduce through propagatin methods and translocations native freshwater mussels and nongame fish species to county streams to augment populations that were once historically abundant in the Des Plaines River watershed. It also serves for partnering with local conservation groups, universities and other institutions on collaborative and applied research work in these same areas. The center is closed to the public.
Today the Forest Preserve District manages over 1,100 acres of aquatic habitats, including lakes, streams and rivers flowing through DuPage County’s forest preserve boundaries. As part of its conservation mission, the District seeks to develop solutions for stream-restoration practitioners toward improving the physical, chemical and biological health of urban-stream systems in the county.
The Urban Stream Research Center building and aquaria were funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and represents a partnership between the DuPage County Stormwater Management Division and the Forest Preserve District.