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Hadley Valley restoration largest undertaken by Forest Preserve
Dec 20, 2007
Bruce Hodgdon, Media Liaison
Forest Preserve District Of Will County
Pertains to Spring Creek Greenway, New Lenox, Joliet, Homer Glen, Lockport
The largest restoration effort ever by the Forest Preserve is underway at Hadley Valley, in Joliet and New Lenox. This 500-acre restoration includes returning an old farm field into the wetland and forested area it once was. Spring Creek runs through the heart of the site and was drastically altered and drained for farming. This project will return Spring Creek to its original, meandering course, transform the farmland back to wetlands and prairie by planting native plants, and recreate forest areas.

The site is bordered by Farrell Road on the west, Route 6 on the south, and I-355 on the east. This project began in spring 2007. A 3.75-mile bike trail and parking area off of Gougar Road will be constructed at the site as well in 2008. The bike trail will link the Joliet Park District's Pilcher Park. In the future, the trail will expand east from I-355 to Messenger Woods and Messenger Marsh in Homer Glen.

This huge project comes with a price tag of $9.94 million. Eighty-four percent of this comes from outside sources, including $2 million from the Illinois State Toll Authority for wetland mitigation; $2.5 million from the Toll Authority for tree mitigation; $3 million from the O'Hare Runway Expansion Project for wetland mitigation; $400,000 from a state grant for access; $240,000 from an adjacent developer for trail construction, and $200,000 from the City of Joliet for trail construction. The Forest Preserve's contribution is $1.6 million.

The scope of the restoration can be seen by what the funds are providing. This includes the planting of 303,000 wetland plants and 33,700 native trees and shrubs; the construction of 17,850 feet of meandering stream; the prairie seeding of 465 acres; and the construction of 3.75 miles of crushed limestone trail, two trail bridges, one parking area for 50 cars and 10 horse trailers, and a drinking fountain and latrine.

Considering the scope of this project, the restoration will require five years of management before its qualities are realized. But cyclists, equestrians, and picnickers should be able to enjoy the trails and picnic areas in 2009.

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