aims to restore one-time wetland
Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in northwestern DuPage County
is proof that model airplanes and dog training can co-exist
with endangered species. And now it's the site of an ambitious
project to restore abandoned farm fields to a natural wetland
State Rte. 59 to Army Trail Rd., about two miles north
of North Ave. Head west on Army Trail; just past the
railrd. tracks, turn right on Powis Rd. The road to
the parking area will be on your right.
2,600 acres, Pratt's Wayne Woods is one of DuPage County's
largest preserves. Some surrounding land is owned by the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources; all told, there
are nearly 4,000 acres of protected land in the immediate
of the preserve is open land prairies and meadows.
Brome grass and fescue are common here. The land is drained
by Brewster Creek in the north and Norton Creek in the south.
Diverse wetlands line each stream, especially in the preserve's
western half. Bur reeds, arrowhead, river bulrush, and many
sedges can be found. Near the parking lot are a lake and
three ponds; all were dug as gravel pits earlier this century,
when the land was privately owned.
don't dominate the preserve, but there is a remnant of a
savanna, about 22 acres, with black, bur, and white oaks,
in the northwest corner. Several other stands of trees
two or three acres each, consisting primarily of cottonwood,
elm, and cherry are spread throughout.
the surviving wetlands are healthy, the area where Brewster
Creek enters the site in the northeast corner has long been
a drained farm field. Many area conservation and nature
groups have begun a joint project to restore this one-time
spring, district staff removed the first drainage tiles.
As the ground slowly becomes saturated and standing water
returns, wetland plants will either naturally recolonize
the area or be planted there.
time, the Brewster Creek Wetland Restoration Project will
expand to other areas of the creek. Expect to see striking
changes within two or three years. Beaver are common; deer,
fox, and coyote are also present. Birds in the winter include
downy woodpeckers, northern harriers, and rough-legged hawks.
Less frequently, visitors may see snow geese, northern shrike,
and when the ponds aren't frozen over diving
ducks like goldeneyes. The breeding season brings a number
of rare birds to the preserve, including Henslow's sparrows,
yellow-headed blackbirds, sandhill cranes, pied-billed grebes,
and great egrets.
about that diverse recreation? Visitors can hike, cross-country
ski, and ride horses on over 12 miles of trail. The ponds
and lake are stocked with catfish and bass (the largest
catch on record is a 28-lb. flathead catfish). There's a
campground (for youth groups only) and an equestrian jump
area in the northwest corner. The eastern portion is home
to a dog training area (the only place in the park where
dogs are allowed off-leash) and a model airplane field.
Permits and/or registration are required for horses, camping
and model aircraft flying. Add to that bird watching, mushroom
hunting, botanizing, photographing, and just plain hiking,
and this becomes one busy piece of ground, yet an area where
the natural ecosystem is getting healthier each day. Call
the Forest Preserve District at (630) 942-6075 for more