Tucked away in Barrington’s 4,000-acre Spring Lake preserves is the tiny, but ecologically significant, Galloping Hill Fen. This 0.125-acre habitat and surrounding area recently benefited from restoration work thanks to a grant from the Forest Preserve Foundation and Oberweiler Foundation.
Fens are one of the rarest of wetland communities and shelter distinctive plant communities as well as insects and amphibians. Fens, like many of our region’s wetlands, face considerable challenges including habitat fragmentation and invasive species.
Galloping Hill Fen and the surrounding sedge meadow have been encroached upon by buckthorn and other invasive plants crowding out native plants, negatively impacting the site’s hydrology and threatening the habitat of a variety of insects, birds and more.
With generous support from the Oberweiler Foundation and Forest Preserve Foundation, the Forest Preserves of Cook County revitalized the site by working with a contractor to remove brush from around the fen, hand-wick herbaceous invasive species in the wetlands, and conduct follow up herbicide work. This project builds on volunteer restoration work underway at the Galloping Hill, and follow up work will continue with volunteers to reseed the area as needed.
Not only do restoration activities contribute directly to improved habitat for wildlife, a healthy wetland complex also helps protect the adjacent headwater stream, Spring Creek. Galloping Hill Fen and associated wetlands drain into the adjacent Spring Creek, which flows north towards the Fox River. Healthy wetlands protect and improve the quality of the water entering the creek, regulate water flow, as well as provide important habitat, all priorities presented in Openlands’ Status of Headwater Streams of Chicago Wilderness Report.