Landowners and conservation come together to restore wetlands and provide construction mitigation credits
When the O’Hare International Airport set out to expand their runways, they needed to secure off-site wetland mitigation credits. They turned to Openlands, an Illinois-based conservation organization, to restore wetlands at five sites in the Des Plaines River Valley, including the 205-acre (83-hectare) Drummond site. The challenge? Most of Drummond’s plant communities were dominated by non-native and invasive species.
Working with Openlands, our team set out to restore the site—owned and managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS)—to diverse, native plant communities that matched the hydrology and geology of the site. We completed site assessment, planning, and monitoring as well as drain tile disablement and the removal of invasive and weedy species. Removing some of the invasive plants, such as exotic cattails and common reed, proved very challenging, and this service has required targeted herbicide treatments through both equipment-mounted and hand-held herbicide wicks.
After seeding and planting, our crews provided grow-in maintenance over several years to promote the development of the slow-growing native species and continue to manage the invasive perennial plants. With this restoration project, the USFS is one step closer to restoring the western portion of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and O’Hare met their obligations for wetland mitigation. The site, with its restored wetlands and prairies, is now home to an abundance of native plants, pollinators, and shore and wetland birds.
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