NATIVE ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION
History of the Restoration Site
Role of Buffer Sites in Preserving Biodiversity
Project Goals and Purpose
Restoration Strategy and Methods
--Lists of Plants
Education and Outreach
The 5-acre buffer property represents a microcosm of the original landscape
features of Northeastern Illinois. Here, the traces of the once vast wilderness still hang on.
Beneath dozens of presettlement bur oak trees, the prairie tree of Illinois, lies the potential
to rediscover and expand one of the rarest ecosystems in the world.
We know from the shape of the lower branches, that these oaks once grew in a savanna, where
sunlight was unblocked and open spaces allowed them to spread their branches perpendicular
to their trunks.
There is evidence that this property was once part of the territory of the first peoples of Illinois. Their
trails criss-crossed this region marked by trail trees they arched to determine compass
directions or trail systems. One of these trees remains nearby.
Before asphalt and turf grass paved this region, the complex root systems of wetland plants held
rain where it fell. The spongy soils of Chicagoland marshes and streams created incubators for waterfowl,
mammals, insects, songbirds and hundreds of native plant species.
As we see the return of healthy grasses and wildflowers to the stream corridor, we also see the
return of the red-tailed hawk, monarchs in migration, red fox, coyote, the Kirtland's warbler -- a federally listed
songbird, tower crayfish and assorted amphibians.
The previously mowed lawn on the eastern section of the property lends itself
ideally to the establishment of a prairie nursery.
Hickory Lane Estates seen above represents the last sizeable land with ecological potential left to preserve in
west central Cook County. (The barren area beyond HIckory Lane Estates is the 275-acre Hinsdale/Sexton
landfill identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a hazardous waste site.)
aerial photo by Steve Kiebler