Save The Prairie Society


History of the Restoration Site

Role of Buffer Sites in Preserving Biodiversity

Project Goals and Purpose

Restoration Strategy and Methods

Site Biodiversity
  --Lists of Plants
    --Naturally Occurring
  --Survivorship Statistics

Education and Outreach

Project Participants

Site Biodiversity

The 5-acre buffer property represents a microcosm of the original landscape features of Northeastern Illinois. Here, the traces of the once vast wilderness still hang on. Beneath dozens of presettlement bur oak trees, the prairie tree of Illinois, lies the potential to rediscover and expand one of the rarest ecosystems in the world.

We know from the shape of the lower branches, that these oaks once grew in a savanna, where sunlight was unblocked and open spaces allowed them to spread their branches perpendicular to their trunks.

There is evidence that this property was once part of the territory of the first peoples of Illinois. Their trails criss-crossed this region marked by trail trees they arched to determine compass directions or trail systems. One of these trees remains nearby.

Before asphalt and turf grass paved this region, the complex root systems of wetland plants held rain where it fell. The spongy soils of Chicagoland marshes and streams created incubators for waterfowl, mammals, insects, songbirds and hundreds of native plant species.

As we see the return of healthy grasses and wildflowers to the stream corridor, we also see the return of the red-tailed hawk, monarchs in migration, red fox, coyote, the Kirtland's warbler -- a federally listed songbird, tower crayfish and assorted amphibians.

The previously mowed lawn on the eastern section of the property lends itself ideally to the establishment of a prairie nursery.

Hickory Lane Estates seen above represents the last sizeable land with ecological potential left to preserve in west central Cook County. (The barren area beyond HIckory Lane Estates is the 275-acre Hinsdale/Sexton landfill identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a hazardous waste site.)

aerial photo by Steve Kiebler