At Hadley Valley Preserve, Openlands is leading an extensive project to restore native stream, wetland, and prairie habitats.
Openlands’ interest in Hadley Valley Preserve stretches back over 20 years. In 1992, Openlands included Spring Creek, which runs through Hadley Valley, as part of the original Northeastern Illinois Greenways Plan. Work there began in earnest when Openlands assisted the Forest Preserve District of Will County in purchasing 14.6 acres for the preserve in 2006.
In 2008, funding provided by Openlands allowed the District to start restoring Spring Creek through Hadley Valley Central. Hadley Valley Central is part of a wider set of restorations initiated by the District, Openlands, and the Illinois Tollway Commission. Together the project areas are restoring more than 500 acres of high-quality native plant communities. A major step was moving more than 64,000 cubic yards of earth to restore part of Spring Creek to its natural, winding path, based on aerial photos from 1939. Invasive plants that choked out native plants were also removed. The underground drainage tile pipes were smashed or removed so water could find its own way.
Altogether, about 148,000 individual plants have been planted to restore the wetland areas. Public access and trail improvements, including informative signs and maps, have made it possible for visitors to enjoy the new views. Additionally, Openlands StreamLeaders volunteers monitor aquatic animals such as mussels and fish in Spring Creek. Over 300 species of plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and other animals may now be found in the preserve.
You can plan your visit to Hadley Valley today or click on the map below to see the restoration of the site.