Sprawl Closing in on Wolf Road Prairie — Aerial Photos

Wolf Road Prairie is acclaimed as one of Illinois’ most significant natural areas. The properties known as Hickory Lane Estates are west and upstream of the preserve. There are five properties in Hickory Lane Estates that have been acquired as buffer to protect Wolf Road Prairie. One is the three acre corridor (shown here) owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Another is 10 HIckory Lane owned by Save the Prairie Society. Three additional 5 acre properties in Hickory Lane were purchased by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources along the western border of the prairie. These properties protect biodiversity and the watershed at Wolf Road Prairie.

The open space east of Wolf Road Prairie is a part of the floodplain which connects to the Mayfair Reservoir before draining into Salt Creek.



Protecting Wolf Road Prairie with Buffers

The wetland at Wolf Road Prairie (shown below) fulfills two vital functions. It holds flood waters like a huge sponge and provides habitat for birds, insects and animals dependent upon wetland ecosystems for nesting, feeding and migratory stopovers. Wetland plants also act as clarifying and purifying filters to improve water quality.

The red square in the photo below identifies one of the properties acquired by the Department of Natural Resources. Notice the stream corridor which meanders through the property and connects the prairie to the upstream watershed.

The three acre corridor connection to Hickory Lane adjacent to the Department’s acquisition is a recovering prairie remnant owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The Prairie Triangle restoration area at 10 Hickory Lane is owned by Save the Prairie Society and is visible in the lower left corner. These three properties show how coordinated acquisition strategies can create contiguous open space protection through the cooperation of state and county conservation agencies and non-profit landowners.

Experts recommend that Wolf Road Prairie be protected through buffer acquisition and ecosystem restoration.



Protecting Stream Corridor and Wetland

The recent townhouse development visible in the upper right hand corner of the photo below is an example of encroachment by sprawl into the Wolf Road Prairie Watershed and Eco-Region.

A portion of 10 Hickory Lane (owned by Save the Prairie Society) is shown here — west of Hickory Lane Drive.

This aerial photo allows you to trace the route of the stream corridor as it meanders through Hickory Lane Estates into Wolf Road Prairie. You can also identify restoration areas on the conservation buffer properties which appear golden and textured in contrast to Eurasian turf lawn.