Community Invited to Support Efforts, Public Open House Aug. 2

Beginning in fall, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and several partner agencies will restore 2.3 miles of Spring Brook, a tributary of the West Branch of the DuPage River that runs in part through St. James Farm and Blackwell forest preserves.

The large-scale project will replace a straight ditch of deepened channels created decades ago with the twists and turns typical of a naturally occurring waterway. These new meanders will connect the creek to the floodplain, allowing nutrient-rich floodwaters to more easily flow into surrounding forest preserves and newly created wetlands which will revitalize the floodplain’s natural ability to temporarily store and filter stormwater. The project will also enhance dryer, higher ground along the creek by clearing invasive, nonnative vegetation and replacing with native species.

Members of the community are invited to learn more about the Spring Brook initiative during the Urban Stream Research Center Open House on Saturday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville on Butterfield Road 0.25 mile west of Winfield Road. Visitors will be able to explore the water with ecologists to collect crayfish and aquatic insects and learn about invasive aquatic species and native water-loving plants. They’ll also find out about rain barrels and simple landscaping techniques they can use at home to support the health of rivers and streams. For more information on this free, all-ages event, call 630-933-7227.

“Our rivers connect our communities, and we invite neighbors and supporters from all around the region to become active participants in this restoration effort,” says John “Ole” Oldenburg, the director of the District’s Office of Natural Resources. “We’ll be working with DuPage County Stormwater Management to seek community-wide input for a watershed plan, The Wetlands Initiative to lead volunteers in hands-on restoration projects within St. James Farm, and The Conservation Foundation to share information on conservation practices for homes and businesses.”

Other community partners for the restoration project include the Wheaton Sanitary District, the Illinois Tollway Authority and Wills Burke Kelsey Associates, Ltd.

Restoration work will take place in several phases over multiple years. The project will bolster the health of the greater West Branch of the DuPage River watershed, where several miles of the river have already been restored.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County owns and manages 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs welcome over 4 million visitors. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube pages.

Photo attachment: Restoration work along Spring Brook will benefit aquatic life such as this freshwater mussel.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County