Improvement Projects


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 »

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. View drone photos of the new wetlands.

During the course of the project, trails will be open for public use. Intermittent closures of some sections of the preserve and lakeshore will be required during construction for public safety. Trees will be removed for basin expansion, wetland creation, stream restoration and stormwater management. Over 1,000 native trees and shrubs will be planted as part of the project. Please use caution, slow down and look for signs and work crews along the way. Anticipated completion is spring 2020, with maintenance and monitoring continuing through 2025. View concept plan »  Overall improvement map »

Questions, comments, updates? Contact Justin Kirk, 312-751-3171.

Wetland Mitigation Bank and New Trail Construction

The Lake County Division of Transportation(LCDOT) has constructed a new section of trail and is in the process of restoring 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. Visitors of the preserve are now 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. View concept plan »  Overall improvement map »

Questions, comments, updates? View LCDOT updates or call 847-377-7400.

Ethel's Woods | Antioch

A 0.7-mile section of the Millennium Trial runs along the western edge of the preserve. Other public access improvements to the 500-acre preserve include toilets, a 0.8-mile gravel loop trail and four scenic overlooks. Future plans include a pedestrian tunnel under Route 45 to safely connect Ethel's Woods to Raven Glen Forest Preserve via the Millennium Trail.

Although preserve improvements are complete, restoration activities will continue for a few more years while we finalize our efforts to return the area to a natural landscape.

Background | Public Access Improvements

At their February 13, 2019, meeting, the Lake County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners awarded a $824,522 contract to Campanella & Sons of Wadsworth to build trails and parking at the preserve.  
Major multi-year land restoration efforts included restructuring an earthen dam to slowly drain a man-made lake as well as ecological restoration of the historic North Mill Creek stream channel. Funding assistance for this restoration work was provided by a $1 million Clean Water Act grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

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

Fort Sheridan | Lake Forest

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.

Lakewood | Wauconda

Lakewood Master Plan Approved

In January 2020, our Board of Commissioners approved a master plan for Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. Engineering work begins this year, followed by construction in 2021. Want Progress Updates? Email

View Project Documents
Approved Master Plan »    Executive Summary » 
* NOTE: Documents will not open in Safari browser or from iPhones.

Project Background

In 2018, we initiated the master planning process to evaluate existing conditions and uses of Lakewood. The plan identified potential recreation, education and conservation improvements for the preserve. Learn more »

Project Area
Acquired in 1968, Lakewood has 2,835 acres and is the largest forest preserve in Lake County. It contains a diverse mix of land uses, facilities and natural resources. When combined with adjacent 1,039-acre Ray Lake Forest Preserve, contiguous holdings in this area total 3,874 acres or over six square miles. Lakewood is located east of Wauconda and lies within parts of Wauconda and Fremont Townships. The preserve is intersected by Illinois Route 176, Ivanhoe Road and Fairfield Road.

Project Goals and Objectives 
The new master plan for Lakewood supports the methods and systems needed to reach our 100-Year Vision and Strategic Plan by providing leadership and sound conservation practices, and by promoting an active, healthy lifestyle for people of all abilities to enjoy.

  • Provide an improved public access and recreation experience that is ADA compliant, properly sized, accommodates future needs, and reduces short-term and long-term operating costs.
  • Provide a new, more efficient design that consolidates uses within a smaller footprint, supports educational programs and community events, and satisfies current and future public access needs.
  • Replace and/or renovate critical operational infrastructure.
  • Dedicate new areas for restoration consistent with natural resource goals.

Questions or Comments? Contact Director of Planning and Land Preservation Randy Seebach at 847-968-3262 or via email:

Millennium Trail and Greenway

Learn about a preliminary engineering study for the construction of a pedestrian tunnel under U.S. Route 45 in Antioch to safely connect Raven Glen Forest Preserve to neighboring Ethel’s Woods Forest Preserve via our Millennium Trail.

View map »

Questions, comments, updates?  Contact Project Manager Jeff Sloot, 847-968-3277.

Rollins Savanna | Grayslake

Public Access Improvements

At their April 9 meeting, our Board of Commissioners awarded a $393,791 contract to Copenhaver Construction, Inc. of Gilberts, Illinois to build a trail connection from the existing preserve trails to the intersection of Rt. 45 and Dada Drive starting this spring.  
Planned public access improvements to the 1,221-acre preserve include 0.5 miles of gravel trail and pedestrian safety improvements to the intersection at Illinois Rt. 45 and Dada Drive to connect existing Gurnee trails to Rollins Savanna. Weather permitting, these improvements are expected to be completed and open to the public in summer 2020.
A small portion of the preserve that currently has no public access will be closed during construction. Existing trails at Rollins Savanna will remain open throughout the construction period.

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

Schedule: The anticipated opening is summer 2020.

close (X)