Updated: March 22, 2013 10:27AM
WADSWORTH — Illinois Tollway directors are expected to approve an intergovernmental agreement Feb. 28 with the Lake County Forest Preserve District to restore and expand access to Pine Dunes Forest Preserve.
The tollway’s Finance Administration Operations Committee on Wednesday recommended approval of the pact .
Under the agreement, the tollway will use 315 acres of the 751-acre forest preserve in upper Newport Township to perform an estimated $8.5 million worth of wetlands mitigation and invest in new site improvements. Wetlands restoration and woodlands enhancements include removal of man-made drainage features to re-establish natural water flow, control of invasive plant species and native planting and seeding, tollway officials said.
The tollway will also construct improvements to Pine Dunes Forest Preserve, including new trails to connect the Des Plaines River Trail, a parking lot, restroom facilities, boardwalks, a drinking water well and a new entrance road. Work is scheduled to begin later this year and be completed in 2018.
The Pine Dunes Forest Preserve features numerous streams, marshes, sedge meadows, ponds and other wetlands, as well as a mix of prairie, savanna and oak-hickory woodlands.
“We are delighted to partner with the Illinois Tollway at Pine Dunes Forest Preserve,” said Ann Maine of Lincolnshire, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “By working together, we can more quickly restore 85 acres of wetlands to provide critical habitat for a variety of rare birds and other wildlife and create new trails for people to enjoy, all in a fiscally responsible way. We also can provide a vital regional connection for our Millennium Trail.”
The tollway will monitor the site for five years once mitigation construction activities are completed, while the Lake County Forest Preserve District will assume maintenance responsibilities once the tollway’s work is completed, officials said.
The project will be coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Lake County, Newport Township, local municipalities and utilities.