West Branch DuPage River Corridor Habitat Improvement Project Begins

News Release

Work Begins on West Branch DuPage River Corridor Habitat Improvement Project

(April 12, 2017) — The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is moving forward with plans to improve the West Branch DuPage River through four forest preserves to create an ecologically healthy and more contiguous river corridor.

Dubbed the West Branch DuPage River Corridor Habitat Improvement Project, plans call for creating a more contiguous habitat along the river through West DuPage Woods, Blackwell, Warrenville Grove and McDowell Grove forest preserves in the communities of West Chicago, Warrenville and Naperville.

The project will build upon previous enhancements vital for floodwater storage and conveyance, water filtration and ecological habitat.

This work is part of a larger initiative within the West Branch DuPage River watershed that includes the Klein Fen river restoration and wetland mitigation project at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett, an upcoming river restoration project at Mallard Lake Forest Preserve in Hanover Park, and the restoration of Spring Brook Creek, a tributary that flows through St. James Farm and Blackwell forest preserves in Warrenville.

“This work will provide improved ecological resource management leading to biological health, natural areas resiliency, progress toward improved ecosystem services, and enhanced preserve aesthetics,” said District Natural Resources Director Erik Neidy.

“This project will benefit residents of DuPage County and complete efforts to make the river corridor an ecological asset,” said Forest Preserve District of DuPage County President Joe Cantore.

A 2013 intergovernmental agreement between the District and DuPage County allowed several grant-funded stormwater and ecological improvement projects to be completed along the West Branch in Warrenville and McDowell Grove forest preserves.

Various improvements were also made along the West Branch DuPage River during the Superfund thorium remediation process. Construction operations and restoration efforts were extensive in areas where thorium remediation occurred, but the improvements were not comprehensive and contiguous throughout the District preserves along the river corridor.

Areas adjacent to and between the projects also require improvements to create a continuous habitat corridor. Furthermore, previously restored areas require maintenance to keep them healthy and control invasive species. An ecologically healthy and continuous river corridor will be substantially easier to sustain and will provide improved ecological services compared to a dissected corridor in poor ecological health.

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 62 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
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