Open Water

Little Red Elliot files 163


The Forest Preserves contain many bodies of open water. While very few historically had standing water, most of them were artificially created. Many sloughs and lakes, including Long John Slough in Willow Springs and Busse Lake in Schaumburg, were created decades ago by damming slow-flowing deep-water swamps or small stream systems. Others, such as Flatfoot Lake and Powderhorn Lake in Chicago, are actually “borrow pits,” giant holes excavated when sand, gravel or soil was removed for highway construction many years ago.


Although modern changes have transformed the aquatic landscape in the preserves, many species have become naturalized there and now rely on the habitat. Forest Preserves staff also manage 40 fishing areas, stocking a number of them with sport fish such as rainbow trout, sunfish and channel catfish.


Lakes. Though some bodies of water bear the name, there are no naturally occurring lakes in the forest preserves. Maple Lake was a wet prairie until it was dammed many years ago. Busse Lake is actually Busse Reservoir, created by damming Salt Creek.


Ponds and sloughs. Smaller than lakes, these small water bodies are found throughout the forest preserves, notably in the Palos Preserves, but in many other preserves as well. Some are natural, but many have been created by modern hydrological changes.

>>>See it at Crabtree Lake in Barrington Hills; Paul Douglas Preserve in Hoffman Estates; Ned Brown Preserve South in Elk Grove Village; Beck Lake in Mount Prospect; Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills; Little Red Schoolhouse (Long John Slough) in Willow Springs; McGinnis Slough in Orland Park; Powderhorn Lake in Burnham; Wampum Lake in Thornton.

Read more about the ecosystems of the Forest Preserves of Cook County:

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County