Tour District's Urban Stream Research Center at Sept. 15 Open House

News Release

Tour District's Urban Stream Research Center at Sept. 15 Open House

Only Center in Illinois for Propagating Freshwater Mussels

(Aug. 28, 2018) — See firsthand how ecologists at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Urban Stream Research Center at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville are working to help improve the region’s watersheds and raise common and endangered aquatic species at an open house on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visitors can view the District’s efforts to raise freshwater mussels, federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonflies, and state-endangered Blanding’s turtles, and meet some of the crayfish, insects and fish that call the county’s waterways home. Tour the lab and talk to aquatic wildlife experts about the District’s conservation efforts to expand populations for some of the most endangered animals in the United States.

Registration is not required for the free all-ages open house, and visitors can reach the Urban Stream Research Center from Blackwell’s Butterfield Road entrance. For more information, call 630-206-9626.

“Education is such a vital part of our mission, and the Forest Preserve District does all it can to make learning about our environment both interesting and fun for all ages!” said Forest Preserve District of DuPage County President Joe Cantore.

The five most imperiled and vulnerable species in the United States are all freshwater aquatic organisms, and freshwater mussels are at the top of the list. In 2017 the District released 24,377 mussels at 37 locations across 18 miles along the West Branch DuPage River and two tributaries to boost low natural populations of these animals, which play vital, irreplaceable roles in the overall health of aquatic habitats in waterways.

Mussels act as filter feeders by taking in large amounts of water, filtering out bacteria, algae, or decaying plant or animal matter before passing the clean water back into the river. Just one small adult mussel can filter more than 6 gallons of water in one day.

At the center, which opened in 2012 and is the only one of its kind in Illinois, ecologists survey stream habitats and aquatic species and work to augment populations of native freshwater mussels once historically abundant in the Des Plaines River watershed by using propagation methods, They also partner with local conservation groups, universities and other institutions on collaborative and applied-research work in these same areas.

The District manages more than 1,000 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 resources for stream-restoration practitioners that improve the physical, chemical and biological health of urban-stream systems in the county.

The center’s building and aquaria, which are normally closed to the public, were funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and in partnership with DuPage County Stormwater Management.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 4 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, blogFacebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.


The Forest Preserve District offers a monthly e-newsletter that includes timely information about projects, programs and events in our DuPage forest preserves. Subscribe to our e-newsletter, and get the latest nature news straight to your inbox.