Spring Brook Restoration

Restoring a Creek's Natural Functions

The Forest Preserve District and other conservation-minded agencies, homeowners and volunteers have worked to bring meandering streams and rebuilt wetlands back to our landscape. Just this fall, the District completed over 3,200 feet of restoration on Spring Brook — a tributary of the West Branch of the DuPage River — within St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville. The story of this creek’s restoration and the promise of its function to improve stormwater management is worthwhile, because it enhances the quality of our lives in DuPage County. 

Long ago, farmers straightened and deepened the majority of Spring Brook at the preserve to dry up their agricultural fields to yield crops.

Our restoration has reconfigured the creek, adding twists and turns to slow its flow and reduce erosion not only in the preserve but also downstream. The creek bed contains gravel, cobble and boulders to offer habitat for fish, microinvertebrates, mussels and other wildlife. Shallow stretches allow water to overflow the banks during heavy rains and into a restored floodplain. We’ve also re-engineered old drainage-tile channels to allow the former fields to again hold water — and the forest preserve to store more stormwater and offer valuable efuge for Wilson’s snipes, marsh wrens, Virginia rails, soras and other wetland specialists.

Depending on funding, a second phase of Spring Brook’s restoration at Blackwell Forest Preserve may begin in 2017 or 2018.

It will take some time, but with the help of our partners and neighbors, the Spring Brook watershed can once again produce rich yields throughout the two preserves and DuPage County.