The Deer Grove-West Restoration, started in 2015, includes brush clearing and tree removal work to increase light levels on the ground and allow for improved oak regeneration and growth of other native plant species. Additionally, the restoration work includes removal of invasive and aggressive native species of plants. Originally a five-year project, this restoration work has been expanded multiple times because previous phases of the project came in under budget.
Deer Grove-East underwent an O’Hare Modernization Mitigation Account (OMMA) restoration project of its wetlands and prairie, restoring 180 acres during a project that began in 2008. Restoration work at Deer Grove-West was part of the initial project submittal for OMMA funds; however, restoration work has primarily been focused at Deer Grove East. Planning for the specific Deer Grove West restoration project began in 2014 in consultation with Stantec. Other partners and supporters include Openlands, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Deer Grove Natural Area Volunteers, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.
This restoration project aligns with the Next Century Conservation Plan’s goal of restoring 30,000 acres of forest preserve to good ecological health, and the prioritization scheme of the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan, which names Deer Grove as the #4 priority site within the Forest Preserves.
Ongoing: Brush and tree removal is now complete in the project area, with ongoing invasive species control and prescribed fire continuing in partnership with Openlands through 2023. By 2024, the project area will be turned over to the Forest Preserves for long-term maintenance.
Fall 2021: The Forest Preserves has expanded the project area by 62 acres thanks to additional funding from Openlands. Brush clearing and tree thinning will take place in the expanded area from approximately December 2021 to March 2022. Invasive species control and monitoring continues in the original project area and will expand to newly cleared areas this winter.
Fall 2019: The Forest Preserves has expanded the project area by 100 acres thanks to additional funding from Openlands. Brush clearing and tree thinning will take place in the expanded area from approximately December 2019 to March 2020. Invasive species control and monitoring continues in the original project area and will expand to newly cleared areas this winter.
Spring 2018: Prescribed fires were once again implemented in the project area in the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018. The remaining winter work has been completed, with some additional tree thinning taking place in areas that have been slow to recover due to lack of sunlight. All hydrology repairs were completed this winter. The remainder of the project will consist of invasive species control in the growing season and establishment of native plant cover through seed collection and redistribution.
Spring 2017: An additional 100 acres were cleared over the winter, making the winter clearing work about 94% complete. The 2016 growing season saw a great response from the native seed bank with smaller than expected invasive species populations. Prescribed fires were implemented in the project area in the fall of 2016. Additionally, permits have been obtained for the hydrology portion of the project and will be implemented this coming winter.
Spring 2016: Brush removal and tree thinning was performed over roughly 123 acres of the 239 acre project during winter 2015-16. The rest of the project area is slated for similar work next winter (2016-17). Multiple passes will be made for invasive species control throughout the spring, summer, and fall 2016. Planning for hydrology repairs throughout the preserve is underway and installation is tentatively slated for late summer and early fall.