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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.

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

Public Access Improvements

At their February 13 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 starting this spring.  
 
Planned public access improvements to the 500-acre preserve will include an entrance drive from Miller Road, a 25-car parking lot, toilets, a 0.7-mile gravel loop trail, and four scenic overlooks. A 0.7-mile section of the Millennium Trail will run along the western edge of the preserve. Weather permitting, these improvements are expected to be completed and open to the public in summer 2019.
 
Located in Antioch, Ethel’s Woods currently does not have public access as it undergoes a major multi-year land restoration effort, which includes 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.

Schedule: The anticipated opening is summer 2019.

View map »  Learn more »
 

Fort Sheridan | Lake Forest

Public Access Improvements

The grass trail loop at the north end of the preserve is closed to the public for construction. It is being rebuilt with improved drainage, durability and new grass surface.  Within this loop, the bridge over Janes Ravine is receiving maintenance repairs along its entire structure. Respect all blockades and closure signage. Do not move blockades or attempt to access closed areas. Respecting the closure will allow the site to reopen sooner.

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

View closure map »

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

Master Plan Project

The Lake County Forest Preserves has initiated the master planning process for Lakewood Forest Preserve. The master plan will evaluate the existing conditions and uses of the preserve and will identify potential recreation, education and conservation improvements at the preserve. Learn more »

Project Area
Lakewood is one of Lake County’s oldest preserves and contains a diverse mix of land uses, facilities and natural resources. At 2,826 acres, Lakewood is the largest single preserve in the Lake County Forest Preserves, and with the adjacent Ray Lake site (1039 acres), the contiguous holdings total 3,865 acres, or over 6 square miles. The site is located east of the Village 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

We approved a “100-year Vision for Lake County” (Vision) in 2015. The new Master Plan for Lakewood Forest Preserve will support the methods and systems needed to reach the Vision by providing leadership, sound conservation practices and promoting an active, healthy lifestyle for people to enjoy. The Master Plan goals that support the Vision include Leadership, Conservation, Public Access and Connections and Organizational Sustainability. Learn more »

Leadership Goals
The master plan will consider needed changes and recommendations that will improve the natural and developed landscape. The plan will adapt to economic changes that have affected the Lake County Forest Preserves; the plan goals will align the preserve in a way that serves as a model of best practices for natural resource management and universal and sustainable design.

Conservation Goals
Lakewood is identified to be the core of the 10,000-acre Lake-McHenry Wetland Ecological Complex by the Green Infrastructure Model and Strategy for Lake County, Illinois, 2016. This complex will include a 1,000-acre woodland that will include a continuum from savanna to woodland. Natural resource habitat restoration areas will be increased to reach this goal.

Public Access and Connections Goals
Lakewood will continue to provide access to recreation and education facilities and programs. Existing facilities will be evaluated to determine needed repairs and upgrades to meet current standards. New trail and facility opportunities will be considered that are accessible for use by people of all abilities. Decisions will be based on striking the proper balance between providing quality recreation opportunities and reducing long-term maintenance costs.

Organizational Sustainability Goals
The plan will prioritize protecting, restoring and managing natural and cultural resources. Decisions regarding activities and infrastructure will look toward reducing long-term operational costs and providing economic sustainability.

Project Timeline

The Inventory and Evaluation portion of the project is concluding. Our staff have evaluated the current conditions of the preserve. Existing facility conditions and current use patterns will be considered when developing a plan or conceptual design proposal. Learn more »

A Conceptual Plan, anticipated to be complete by early spring of 2019, will explore a range of ideas and opportunities that are consistent with the project goals. A public Open House will be scheduled to provide the opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed plan and discuss the ideas with Lake County Forest Preserve planners and restoration ecologists. The final Master Plan is anticipated to be approved by the Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners early summer of 2019.

Construction work will follow plan approval. While construction is expected to begin in 2020, the actual timing of the construction will vary depending upon the decisions made during the planning process and the available funding.

Questions or Comments?Contact Randy Seebach, Director of Planning and Land Preservation, 847-968-3262 or email at: LAKEWOOD@lcfpd.org.

Project Updates: To sign up to be placed on our project email list please email LAKEWOOD@lcfpd.org.

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.

Representatives from the Lake County Forest Preserves and project consultants will introduce the project, present the preferred improvement plan and project schedule, answer questions, and seek public input and comments.

The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. If you need special assistance or require certain accommodations in order to attend, please contact Jeff Sloot, Project Manager, at 847-968-3277 or jsloot@LCFPD.org by November 9.

Public Information Flyer »

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 spring 2019.

Spring Bluff | Winthrop Harbor

New Trail and Habitat Restoration

Spring_Bluff_Rendering

Thanks to an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Program 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. This project is supported by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program through a federal grant from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. 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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