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District to Host Public Open House on Proposed Nature Preserves

Runners explore the trails at Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville, where an important grassland habitat supports rare birds.

Runners explore the trails at Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville, where an important grassland habitat supports rare birds.

On June 25 at 7 p.m. the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County will host a public open house at the Danada House at 3S501 Naperville Road in Wheaton to present the benefits of pursing state nature preserve status for parts of Belleau Woods Forest Preserve in Wheaton and Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville.

The two-hour open house will feature a presentation at 7:15 p.m. that will outline the key habitats nature preserve status would protect and the positive effects this designation has had at Churchill Woods and West Chicago Prairie forest preserves. District staff will then answer questions and gather feedback from attendees. Individuals will also be able to submit feedback via email through June 27 at forest@dupageforest.org.

District ordinances already dictate the preservation of rich, natural habitats, but nature preserve status would provide an extra layer of protection for future generations. The District would continue to own, manage and maintain these areas as it has in the past, but individuals who destroy natural resources or violate other regulations would be subject to state penalties.

The proposed section of Belleau Woods, the 68 acres south of Roosevelt Road, contains over 300 species of native plants among an upland oak forest, floodplain forest and prairie and has remained undeveloped since the District received the land in 1965. The proposed area of Springbrook Prairie contains the largest grassland community in DuPage County — roughly 1,800 acres — and supports 11 threatened species of birds, including short-eared owls and northern harriers. It also has one of the healthiest streams in the area. Springbrook Prairie’s off-leash dog area, model-aircraft field and picnic areas would not be part of the nature preserve and would continue to operate as they do today. Within the nature preserve area, however, dogs, horses and bicycles would need to remain on the maintained trails, a requirement similar to current District regulations.

Information on these two sites is at dupageforest.org under “District News.” Individuals with questions on the open house should call the District’s Office of Natural Resources at 630-933-7227.

The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission helps private and public landowners protect high-quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species through voluntary dedication. Statewide, these high-quality areas are home to more than 20 percent of Illinois’ endangered species. For more on the nature preserves system, visit www.dnr.state.il.us/inpc.

Established in 1915, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County manages over 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year, over 4.3 million visitors enjoy the District’s 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers, and scores of scheduled programs and events. To learn more, call 630-933-7200 or visit www.dupageforest.org.

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