Somme Prairie Nature Preserve Habitat Restoration

part of the prairie at Somme Prairie Nature Preserve
Photo by Lisa Culp Musgrave

Project Completed September 2020

The major components of this project are complete. This area will be actively managed for the next few years while it recovers.

21-acre project to restore native prairie and wetland habitat

This restoration project removed all brush and trees from a 21-acre area of Somme Prairie Nature Preserve. Volunteer stewards and staff reintroduced rare prairie plants by collecting seeds from on site and nearby sites to return this area to a thriving prairie habitat. The project was supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service through the Great Lakes Coastal Program.


Somme Prairie Nature Preserve, located between Dundee Rd and the I-94 Edens Spur near Northbrook, is an original prairie, one of the highest quality remnants in Illinois. Part of it has been shaded out by planted and invasive trees. This restoration project removed all brush and trees to help return the land to a thriving prairie habitat.

The grant-funded restoration work expands upon more than 40 years of dedicated volunteer stewardship; volunteers have increased the surviving prairie’s size and quality by cutting brush, removing trees and spreading seed.

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 the Somme Complex as the sixth priority site within the Forest Preserves. Of the three Somme Preserves, Somme Prairie at 70 acres is the smallest. Somme Prairie Grove is 85 acres, mostly oak savanna. Somme Woods, 255 acres, is mostly oak woodland. All are being restored to good ecological health.

Work History

  • Fall 2020: Tree removal work completed.
  • Summer 2020: Invasive weed control being conducted by contractors, staff, Conservation Corps and volunteers. Prairie seed for the area is being collected by contractors and volunteers. The remaining trees are slated for removal in August and September depending on site conditions.
  • Winter 2019/2020: Tree removal work. Areas where trees are cleared will be reseeded with prairie seeds, collected by a restoration contractor and volunteers from on site and nearby sites with similar habitat.
  • Spring – Fall 2019: Invasive weed control.
  • January & February 2019: Invasive brush mowing.