On November 20, the Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners approved a single land purchase that offers multiple benefits to outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife alike.
The $10,237,500 land buy adds 315 acres to Pine Dunes Forest Preserve bringing that preserve’s total acreage to 751. Pine Dunes is one of five preserves and one state natural area that comprise a 5,300-acre regional trail and greenway in northern Lake County near the Wisconsin border. The newly approved property purchase is located in Newport Township along Edwards Road between Hunt Club Road and Old U.S. Highway 41, and south of State Line Road.
"Acquisition of this property is part of a long-range effort to preserve and connect a network of natural lands and trail systems in northern Lake County. Its large size and location in the region offer us a significant opportunity to create multiple trails within the preserve for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and provide a major link for the countywide Millennium Trail," said Ann Maine, President of the Lake County Forest Preserves. "We'll also be able to conduct extensive restoration projects to improve wetland and grassland bird habitat, and protect and expand oak savanna communities here."
The seller has agreed to grant a trail easement across adjoining property they retained so that future preserve trails can extend to Old U.S. Highway 41 and link to a planned Illinois Department of Transportation trail that will run along Russell Road to just east of Interstate 94.
Ideally situated, the new land would eventually bridge the gap between neighboring preserves Prairie Stream, Dutch Gap, Raven Glen, Ethel's Woods and the Millennium Trail to the west of U.S. Highway 41, and Van Patten Woods, Oak-Hickory, Wadsworth Savanna and the 31-mile Des Plaines River Trail (DPRT) to the east of the highway. Such a complex network of connected open spaces would provide vital and diverse habitat for a variety of plants and animals, and a rare opportunity to create a regional trail system that links to the DPRT and offers miles of continuous trail travel through the county.
About the Land
Described by Forest Preserve natural resource experts as “some of the finest rolling topography found in Lake County,” the new property features a pristine mix of prairie, savanna and oak-hickory woodlands, as well as scenic streams, marshes, sedge meadows, vernal ponds and other wetland communities.
Approximately 70 percent of the land is upland habitat, while the remaining 30 percent is wetland communities. The Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Chicago Wilderness, and the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation have identified these habitats as critical nesting and foraging areas for a variety of birds and other wildlife species.
The land transaction is contingent on a final closing in approximately 60 days. If successful, the addition will join more than 29,600 acres that create your Lake County Forest Preserves.
This land purchase meets continuing land acquisition goals to preserve more open space, provide habitat for endangered and threatened species, protect and restore wildlife habitat, create new trails, and improve public access to new and existing preserves. Funds from the voter-approved November 2008 referendum make the purchase possible.