The Urban Stream Research Center (USRC) serves as the Forest Preserve District’s facility for aquatic conservation programs and is the only facility of its kind in Illinois. Located where Springbrook Creek enters the West Branch DuPage River in Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, the building opened in 2012 and was funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is the result of a partnership between DuPage County Stormwater Management and the Forest Preserve District.
The center’s main purpose is to augment common native freshwater mussels that were historically more abundant and diverse within the Des Plaines River Basin.
As part of the Aquatic Species Recovery Program (ASRP), native freshwater mussels, which are the most imperiled and vulnerable species in the country, are propagated, reared and released into known historical watersheds, where they are then monitored.
The ASRP also focuses on installing aquatic plants along river and streams to improve fish and aquatic invertebrate habitat, erosion control, nutrient uptake and sequestration, as well as aesthetics.
The Forest Preserve District manages over 1,100 acres of aquatic habitats, including lakes, streams and rivers. The center also serves as a field research station, partnering with local conservation groups, universities and other institutions on collaborative and applied research in aquatic conservation that seeks solutions to problems facing urban rivers and streams. The District’s Aquatic Monitoring and Research Program surveys the aquatic species and character of rivers and streams on District property.
The center facilitates the Aquatic Invasive Species Program, a volunteer program that monitors lakes and streams for the invasive zebra mussel and provides outreach education to prevent their spread.
In addition to the aquatic species recovery efforts and other programs, the center also supports the incubation of state-endangered Blandings turtle eggs and rearing of federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae.
To learn how you can help local aquatic species by donating your time as a volunteer, visit our Volunteer page.