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'Astonishing' restoration work at Hadley Valley preserve earns regional recognition

The Forest Preserve District of Will County's Hadley Valley preserve has received a 2019 Excellence in Ecological Restoration Program accreditation from Chicago Wilderness.

The accreditation was announced Nov. 14 during a ceremony at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. The program recognizes the largest and highest quality natural areas in the Chicago region.

"The fact that the Forest Preserve has protected 767 acres at Hadley Valley and restored nearly all of that from bare earth to a thriving habitat in the past 12 years is astonishing," said Ralph Schultz, the District's chief operating officer.

Hadley Valley – which stretches from Route 6 in Joliet to Bruce Road in Homer Township – received a silver accreditation this year, but the restoration work will continue with the ultimate goal of achieving platinum status, Schultz said.

The Hadley Valley restoration project is the largest such effort in the Forest Preserve's history. The work involved restoring 450 acres of prairie and 150 acres of wetlands. The wetland restoration occurred when Spring Creek was relocated to its former meandering course and lengthened by 2,000 feet and eight miles of drain tile were disabled.

The restoration project is providing benefits throughout the region, Schultz added. "While providing additional high quality habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species, the ongoing restoration and management of Hadley Valley protects drinking water resources and helps clean streams and improve air quality."

Three additional Will County preserves were accredited by the program in the past: Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve, platinum; Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve, platinum; and Lockport Prairie East, gold.

Chicago Wilderness is a non-profit alliance that works to preserve and restore nature and improve the region's environmental health and quality of life.

For more information on the Forest Preserve District of Will County, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.


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