Forest Preserves undergoing three major restoration projects

Since the creation of the Forest Preserves of Cook County in 1913 and our first land acquisition in 1916, our mission has been to acquire, restore and manage lands for the purpose of protecting and preserving public open space with its natural wonders, significant prairies, forests, wetlands, rivers, streams and other landscapes with all of its associated wildlife, in a natural state for the education, pleasure and recreation of the public now and in the future.


Staying true to that mission, along with using the Next Century Conservation Plan and the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan as guides, the Forest Preserves have been making great strides in restoration in an effort to bring even more land to good ecological health.


A couple projects currently underway or beginning soon include Portwine, Deer Grove West and Cranberry Slough.


Portwine Restoration


This is a three-year project that began in 2013. Plans include targeted brush clearing and tree removal, including invasive tree species. In total, the Portwine restoration project will restore 259 acres of plant and animal habitat, encouraging the growth of grasses, sedges and wildflowers. These will provide food and shelter to a greater diversity of wildlife, as well as reducing soil erosion.


Deer Grove West


This five-year, 238-acre restoration project will include brush clearing and tree removal work, which will increase light levels on the ground in order to facilitate restoration of the specific areas within the project zone, and allow for improved oak regeneration and growth of other native plant species. Additionally, the restoration work will include removal of invasive and aggressive native species of plants, as well as some hydrological restoration, repairing and providing erosion control on wetlands and streams.


The Deer Grove West restoration project comes on the heels of a major restoration project at Deer Grove East. In 2008, a 180-acre restoration project began at Deer Grove East that removed invasive trees and shrubs that congested woodland habitats and prevented sunlight from reaching ground-level plants. Various native grasses and wildflowers were also reintroduced during the Deer Grove East project.


Cranberry Slough


Originally set up as a five-year project covering the entirety of the property, restoration work at Cranberry Slough will begin with two years of work restoring 162 acres of brush mowing, 9.8 acres of cutting brush by hand, 34.2 acres of brush foliar treatment, 152 acres of reed canary grass control and 1.9 acres of black swallowwort control.


Deer Grove West and Cranberry Slough are Illinois State Nature Preserves, and both are listed as restoration priorities in the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan.


To learn about these projects and more, visit our plans and projects page.

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