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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Chicago Partnership Leads to Progress

Region 3, March 5, 2013
Prescribed fire helps restore native vegetation in fire-adpated communities like those found at Waterfall Glen.
Prescribed fire helps restore native vegetation in fire-adpated communities like those found at Waterfall Glen. - Photo Credit: n/a
Waterfall Glen after prescribed fire, fall 2012.
Waterfall Glen after prescribed fire, fall 2012. - Photo Credit: n/a
Adult male Hine's emerald dragonfly
Adult male Hine's emerald dragonfly - Photo Credit: n/a

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chicago Illinois Field Office is working with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and Illinois State Tollway to pool resources toward an ongoing effort to conserve and restore portions of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. The unique area has a long history of natural and cultural preservation beginning with the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1973, the National Park Service transferred over 2,200 acres of surplus government land to the county for no cost through its Federal Lands to Parks program. Today the preserve, only 20 miles outside of Chicago, provides thousands of people with great opportunities to enjoy nature in one of the area’s most scenic places. The preserve also has a range of natural communities with a high diversity of native plant and wildlife species. Waterfall Glen’s prairies, savannas, and oak-maple woodlands contain 740 native plant species, over 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles and another 300 of invertebrates. The portion of the preserve that will be restored is also one of only seven areas in Illinois that provides breeding habitat for the federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana).
This restoration project is focused on the management and enhancement of vegetative diversity, floristic quality, and structure of herbaceous vegetation by targeting invasive species such as common reed (Phragmites australis australis), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), cattails (Typha spp.), and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Restoration being employed includes mechanical clearing, herbicide application, prescribed burning, and other management practices approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Chicago Field Office has provided funding to improve approximately 16 acres of native marsh that contains breeding habitat for the Hine’s emerald dragonfly. The Illinois State Tollway is funding 32 acres of marsh and upland habitat enhancement, which included mechanical clearing, herbicide application and a prescribed burn that was conducted this last fall. The Forest Preserve District plans to use aerial herbiciding techniques to suppress invasive wetland plants on an additional 35 acres of land within and adjacent to the Hine’s emerald dragonfly habitat later this year. Together these ongoing efforts will lead to greater conservation benefit than if these actions had been pursued separately.

Contact Info: Kristopher Lah, (847) 381-2253 ext.15, Kristopher_Lah@fws.gov