Service helps coastal habitat enhancement of Illinois' Spring Bluff Preserve
November 22, 2017
Coastal wetland and prairie at Spring Bluff Nature Preserve. Photo courtesy of Lake County Forest Preserves.
Thanks to funding from the Great Lakes Coastal Program in 2014, work is finishing up on a large-scale project to enhance coastal habitats at the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s Spring Bluff Preserve in Illinois near Chicago.
Located along the western coast of Lake Michigan, and just south of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, Spring Bluff is part of a larger complex of coastal wetlands and natural areas that lie centrally between, and within, the greater metroplex formed by the cities of Chicago and Milwaukee. The approximately 4,500-acre bi-state complex is commonly called the “Chiwaukee Prairie and Illinois Beach Lake Plain.”
The Chiwaukee Prairie-Illinois Beach Lake Plain straddles several managing jurisdictions from Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Waukegan, Illinois. This unique complex supports a mosaic of some of the richest and most diverse wetland and coastal habitat assemblages in the Great Lakes Region, which led to its designation as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention in 2015.
"Lake County Forest Preserves has long been known a leader in restoring wetlands in its part of the Chicago Region,” said Mike Redmer, wildlife biologist in the Service’s Chicago Ecological Services Field Office. “This has been particularly apparent in their stewardship of the Spring Bluff Preserve, where they have identified ways to address and recognize conservation needs of the greater bi-state wetlands complex to which Spring Bluff belongs."
“The Coastal Habitat Restoration project funded by the U.S .Fish and Wildlife Service's Coastal Program at Spring Bluff Nature Preserve has resulted in enhancement of 135 acres of coastal wetland and 40 acres of sand savanna habitat,” stated Debbie Maurer, Manager of Ecological Restoration for Lake County Forest Preserves. “This habitat is important for providing breeding and foraging areas rare wildlife, such as the Illinois State-listed Blanding’s Turtle, and for annual migratory stopover by hundreds of species of birds.”
The Great Lakes Coastal Program recently highlighted urban opportunity areas in its five-year strategic plan. This project highlights the types of initiatives and able partnerships that can be developed around wetlands in urbanized areas.