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.
Described by our natural resource experts as “some of the finest rolling topography found in Lake County,” Pine Dunes 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 and Chicago Wilderness have identified these habitats as critical nesting and foraging areas for a variety of birds and other wildlife species.
Preserve Benefits from Mitigation Project
In 2013, we entered an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA) for the mitigation of impacts associated with the construction of the O’Hare International Airport Western Access Project. The agreement provided access for ISTHA to construct public access improvements and to implement wetland and upland restoration at Pine Dunes to meet the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mitigation requirements.
The collaboration was successful. ISTHA restored 80 acres of wetlands and 235 acres of adjacent savanna and prairie habitat. The work provided critical habitat for savanna species such as the red-headed woodpecker, eastern bluebird and least flycatcher, and for wetland birds, frogs and salamanders.
In addition to the habitat restoration work, the mitigation project also provided for public access improvements for the benefit of preserve visitors.