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Lake County Forest Preserves | Preservation, Restoration, Education and Recreation

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Improvement Projects

Buffalo Creek | Long Grove

Reservoir Expansion and Preserve Improvements

The Lake County Forest Preserve District, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and the Village of Buffalo Grove are collaborating to reduce flooding and provide additional public access improvements at Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve near Long Grove and Buffalo Grove. When complete, properties downstream of the preserve near Lake Cook Road and Arlington Heights Road will see additional flood relief as a result of the project. Visitors of the preserve will enjoy 1.2 miles of additional trails that will provide two new loops east of Schaeffer Road, seven new boardwalks, two scenic overlooks and a 30-car expansion of the existing parking lot. Approximately a half-mile of the existing trail in a flood prone area will be relocated to higher ground to increase accessibility for longer periods and reduce long-term maintenance costs. Nineteen acres of new wetlands and 35 acres of prairie/savanna will be added as part of the restoration of the basin. Construction is expected to begin in early spring 2018. View concept plan »  Overall improvement map »

Questions, comments, updates? Contact MWRD, 312-751-3247.

Wetland Mitigation Bank and New Trail Construction

The Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) will construct a new section of trail and restore native vegetation on the western 65 acres of Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve as part of a wetland mitigation bank. The proposed bank will be used as compensation mitigation for unavailable wetland impacts associated with LCDOT’s road improvement projects within the Des Plaines River Watershed. Additional restoration work on the preserve's western 65 acres will re-establish and rehabilitate native wetland habitat by returning the former farm fields to a sustainable natural condition. When complete, visitors of the preserve will be able to enjoy an additional 1.1 miles of new trails connecting an adjacent residential area and the Village of Long Grove’s soccer fields to the extensive network of existing trails within the preserve. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2017. View concept plan »  Overall improvement map »

Questions, comments, updates? Contact LCDOT, 847-377-7400.

Fort Sheridan | Lake Forest

Public Access Improvements

Portions of the preserve closed to the public on May 30, 2017. Construction for public access improvements began in early June, following May Board review of bid proposals. Public access improvements for Fort Sheridan were approved by the Lake County Forest Preserve Board in November 2015 as part of the Master Plan for the preserve. During construction, all portions of the preserve north of Fort Sheridan’s historic district and south of Vattman Road entrance drive to the cemetary will be closed to public access. Respect all blockades and closure signage. Do not move blockades or attempt to access closed areas. Respecting the closure will keep work moving apace and allow the site to reopen sooner. View closure map »  Learn more »

New features include:

  • The Main entrance (Gilgare Lane) will be widened to two full lanes, and will lead to a new 45-vehicle parking lot with five accessible spaces and an evaporator toilet.
  • The North entrance (Vattman Road) will have a new paved trailhead and an evaporator toilet.
  • 1.6 miles of mown turf trails will be reconstructed with improved drainage, durability and two new boardwalks.
  • The Hutchinson Trail will become an accessible trail from Sheridan Road all the way to the new Lake Overlook by adding two new boardwalks and converting the woodchip section to a paved surface.
  • Three scenic observation areas will be added with new and relocated interpretive exhibits.
  • The Janes Ravine bridge will be enhanced to maximize its years of useful service.
  • The remaining portion of George Bell Road will be removed. The sidewalk and curbs along Simonds Way will be connected.

Project update September 22, 2017:

  • The project is on schedule for reopening a portion of the preserve in the summer of 2018.
  • Progress is being made on many items, including the entry drive, parking lot, pond expansion, turf trail, timber bridges, and overlooks. Boulders selected by Forest Preserve planners are being incorporated into the overlooks as gateway and seating elements.

Project Background

In March 2015, the Planning and Restoration Committee reviewed two concept plans that explored a wide range of ideas for public access and natural resource restoration improvements at Fort Sheridan. After extensive review and discussion, the Committee authorized staff to schedule the second Public Open House and offer the public an opportunity to view and provide input on the Concept Plans. Approximately 240 people attended the Open House on April 8, 2015. Learn more »

In addition to the comments received from the Open House, staff and Commissioners continued to receive written comments via multiple written communication methods including an online forum, emails and letters. More than 500 public comments were received in response to the Concept Plans that were presented in March. All comments were compiled into a Public Involvement Booklet, which was distributed to the Committee on July 6, 2015.

During summer 2015, additional data on visitor and parking lot use patterns at the preserve was collected to assist staff with the development of a revised concept plan. After a thorough review of the additional survey data and comments received from the public, Commissioners, staff and community partners, a revised concept plan was prepared that best represents the core mission of the Lake County Forest Preserves, and is consistent with the agency's Vision and Strategic Plan.

At their November 10, 2015, meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved the Master Plan for public access improvements and habitat restoration. View Board agenda item, plan details, and budget.

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Project Manager Michael Haug, 847-968-3275.

Restoration Program

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), working through the Great Lakes Fish and Ecosystem Restoration program (GLFER), is collaborating with the City of Lake Forest, Lake County Forest Preserves, Lake Forest Open Lands, and Openlands on a large-scale coastal ecosystem restoration project. Extensive construction and restoration work will be conducted in the uplands, ravines and along the Lake Michigan lakeshore. The project will extend from Lake Forest Open Lands property to the north of Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve and south through the Openlands property. During the course of the project, closures of preserve sections and lakeshore will be required for public safety. Project schedule and construction details »

  • Construction within McCormick and Janes Ravines and along the lakeshore has begun. This work requires complete closure of lakefront access at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, now through June 2017
  • Habitat restoration has begun within the uplands and ravines. This work will continue through June 2016, and will require brief, intermittent closures only during times of restoration activity. Watch for signs from the contractor and the Lake County Forest Preserves identifying the closed areas
  • From late 2017 through 2018, work will occur on in-water structures. Closures may be required

After the restoration efforts above are completed, ACOE and its contractor will conduct maintenance and adaptive management in these areas until 2021. This work will include the management of invasive species, and may require brief closures of preserve sections.

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Lynne Whelan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Public Affairs, 312-846-5330.

Lyons Woods | Waukegan

Trail Extension to Green Bay Road

The Lake County Forest Preserves, City of Waukegan, Waukegan Park District, and the Village of Beach Park have partnered to plan and implement a 2.3-mile long multi-use asphalt trail. The trail will connect the Robert McClory Bike Path at Lyons Woods Forest Preserve to the Green Bay Road right-of-way. The proposed trail will travel through the existing ComEd utility corridor and pass through Bevier Park and Callahan Park. This 2.3-mile trail is the first phase of a longer 6.9-mile regional trail that will continue west through Waukegan Savanna Forest Preserve, eventually connecting to the Des Plaines River Trail at Sedge Meadow Forest Preserve.

The project received federal funding assistance through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Transportation Alternatives Grant Program administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Project Manager Greg Walenter, 847-968-3274.

Schedule: The anticipated opening is summer 2018.

View project plan »

Millennium Trail | Antioch and Wadsworth

Trail Extension to Connect Van Patten Woods and Pine Dunes

We are partnering with the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) to construct a 1-mile section of the Millennium Trail along Russell Road connecting Pines Dunes Forest Preserve and Van Patten Woods Forest Preserve. LCDOT has previously completed the western 0.5-mile section of this proposed connection from old US Route 41 to frontage road on the east side of I-94. Work under this contract will construct the remaining 2,800 feet of paved trail within the LCDOT right-of-way along Russell Road. When complete, this segment of the Millennium Trail will connect the Des Plaines River Trail "Mile 0" and equestrian parking lot at Van Patten Woods with the recently completed equestrian friendly trails at Pine Dunes.

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Project Manager Greg Walenter, 847-968-3274.

Schedule: The anticipated opening is spring 2018.

Nippersink | Round Lake

New Trail Connection

Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) and their contractor Lake County Grading will construct a new trail connecting an existing trail at Nippersink to Cedar Lake Road. Part of the new trail will pass through the former RV site on Route 120. Large culvert replacement at Cedar Lake Road is also planned for 2017. This work is part of a reconstruction of Cedar Lake Road from Route 120 to Nippersink Road scheduled for 2018. 
View closure map »  Learn more »

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Project Manager Jeff Sedig, Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., 630-820-1022, or Matt Mitchell, LCDOT Resident Engineer, 847-377-7400.

Obey Construction and Closure Signage

For your safety, during times of construction and closures please use caution, follow detours and obey all posted signs and fencing.


Off-Leash Dog Parks

Planned Improvements

If dogs could talk they would no doubt tell us they love living in Lake County. What’s not to love, with four great dog exercise areas and a new one on the way? Good news for our lucky canines is that these romping grounds will get even better over the next several years. Learn more »

In 2014, we conducted a public online survey to find out what features people would like in a new off-leash dog area opening at Waukegan Savanna Forest Preserve. Your comments helped shape the design features for the new dog area. They also guided improvement plans underway for our four existing off-leash dog areas. By incorporating your feedback, studying the latest national dog park design trends and complying with the ADA 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, there are great things in store for dogs and their owners.

News, updates and closure information related to these projects will be added here as it becomes available. Updates also will be emailed to dog permit holders and to anyone requesting construction news. 

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Project Manager Greg Walenter, 847-968-3274.

Waukegan Savanna Dog Park | Waukegan

Canines will soon have another 11-acre off-leash dog area in northeast Lake County where they can exercise, play and socialize. Located within Waukegan Savanna, the entrance to the new dog area will be at the northeast corner of Delany and Yorkhouse Roads. Learn more »

Plans for the new off-leash dog area include:

  • Shade shelters
  • A separate enclosed area for dogs less than 25 pounds
  • A 60-car parking lot
  • Toilet and drinking water for dogs and people
  • The dog area is the first phase to be implemented in the Conceptual Master Plan for Waukegan Savanna

Construction on the new Dog Park at Waukegan Savanna Forest Preserve is progressing as scheduled. The new turn lanes on Yorkhouse Road, parking lot, evaporator toilet and concrete walkways are all complete. Perimeter fencing and shade shelters will be installed this fall. Grass seeding and other landscaping work is underway. The grass establishment period will continue through most of 2018. The anticipated opening is late fall 2018.

Spring Bluff | Winthrop Harbor

New Trail and Habitat Restoration


Thanks to an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 0.7 miles of new trails will bedeveloped at 229-acre Spring Bluff Forest Preserve in Winthrop Harbor, converting an existing asphalt roadway to a recreational trail. The new trail will connect to existing trails at adjacent Illinois Beach State Park via the 7th Street bike lanes. The project also includes building a wildlife education and observation deck and completing habitat restoration work within the preserve. Spring Bluff is primarily wetlands with oak savanna and prairie. The land being restored is part of a greater ecological complex that supports multiple natural landmarks, including the recent designation as a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance, nine endangered plant and animal species, and 114 bird species. Expected project completion is late 2018. View map »

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Project Manager Greg Walenter, 847-968-3274.

Schedule: The anticipated opening is late 2018.

We are working on projects and plans that will help create new trails and improve public access and natural resource restoration at preserves throughout Lake County. Check closure and construction status »

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