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Green Landscaping: Greenacres

2008 Awards

2008 Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards
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2008 Award Winners

Exhibits and Visitor Centers Parks/Prairies/Woodlands Naturalized Detention Sustainable Stormwater Management Wetland/Stream Corridor Restorations Certificate of Recognition

Exhibits and Visitor Centers

Lake County Forest Preserves

Ryerson Woods Welcome Center

Native landscaping is a key component of  the Ryerson Woods Welcome Center. The project includes 2 rain gardens, native plant beds and 4 vegetated bioswales in the porous asphalt parking lot.  The building and landscaping is used as a teaching tool.

Stormwater management is an integral component of this project.  Much of the rainwater from the building roof is harvested and stored, ready to be used in the building's fire sprinkler system.  Two rain gardens collect the remaining stormwater from the roof. 

The parking lot is made of porous asphalt, which allows rain water to flow through the asphalt.  The water is stored in a layer of rock under the asphalt where it can infiltrate into the groundwater.  There are 4 vegetated bioswales in the parking lot to help with the heaviest rains. To date, there is no indication that bioswales have been used for that purpose.

Museum of Science and Industry

Native Landscaping at the Smart Home:  Green + Wired Exhibit

The Museum of Science and Industry collaborated with many partners to design and install the native landscape at the Smart Home Exhibit: 

These partners include: Jacobs/Ryan Associates, Christy Webber Landscapes, and Openlands Native Habitats Program, a Clean Air Counts partner, Master Gardeners, and Chicago Department of the Enviroment’s Greencorps.

The area surrounding the Smart Home is configured as a bioswale. The intention is to demonstrate how native plants promote onsite management of stormwater.

This project is arguably the most visible native plant installation in Chicago. Every single visitor to the Smart Home (approximately 140 per day) sees the bioswale and the berms. The exhibit materials explain the benefits of native plants and the facilitators (tour guides) have been provided with education so that they can explain their importance and answer questions.


Chicago Park District

West Pullman Park

The West Pullman Park is on Chicago's south side.  The park is home to a basketball court, a children's playground, a recreation center and the ONLY remnant grove of black oaks in the City of Chicago.

In 2001, the Chicago Park District began a project to convert a portion of the site to a natural habitat. The West Pullman Savanna project was completed in summer 2002 and involved converting 1.5 acres of turf grass into a diverse oak savanna. Thousands of wildflowers, grasses and sedges, numbering over 50 native species, were seeded and planted in the understory.  
Since 2002, the site has received supplemental seed and is regularly maintained to control invasive species.  The site also has educational signage about the significance of this site and its history.   Community groups and neighborhood schools volunteer at the site to plant native plants and learn about restoration and invasive management practices.  


Elgin Prairie

Nicor Gas restored approximately seven acres of vacant land from turf grass to native landscaping (prairies) at a Nicor Gas Reporting Center where regional employees report to work on a daily basis.  For years, the vacant had been planted with turf grass and it was mowed every two weeks.  Nicor Gas restored the area with a broad array of native prairie species.  Nicor estimates that they save over $5,000 per year on mowing.

Keson Industries Corporate Campus

Aurora, IL

Keson Industries wanted to reduce the amount of turf grass at their complex in Aurora, IL and conducted a turf-to-prairie conversion on 5 acres. Restoration began in 2006.

Prior to restoration, this 5 acre plot was maintained as high-quality turfgrass. It received regular fertilizer and pesticide applications along with regular mowing.

As part of the long-term stewardship plan invasive species control is the main management activity that occurs on-site. Techniques employed for invasive species control include brush cutting, hand pulling, selective herbicide treatments, and prescribed fire.  Mowing has been eliminated in the areas converted to native plants.

Ball Horticultural Corporate Campus

West Chicago, IL

Ball Horticultural Company wanted to set an example for other corporations by restoring areas on their corporate headquarters in West Chicago to an ecologically stable landscape.

This included improving erosion control, wildlife habitat, diversity, aesthetics, and air and water quality. In planning the project, the property was divided into a wetland mitigation area, south woods, west woods, Oak savanna, existing lawn, tall-grass prairie, and an old field.
To gain acceptance within the community the company began restoration of the tall-grass prairie in 2003. This area needed the least amount of invasive plant removal and gave the quickest results with flowers blooming the following spring.  To connect the prairie to the wetland, the west woods and old-field were restored next. With the  opening of the canopy in the west woods, more sunlight reached the ground stimulating the growth of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses.  Seed and woody plants were installed within the woods to enhance the remnant populations.

The wetland mitigation area was vegetated in 2004, and required a DuPage County Stormwater permit. A new detention basin and the existing lawn were seeded with native species, while clearing and seeding began in the South woods as well.
After installation was complete, interpretive signs were installed as well as houses for Blue Birds, Wood Ducks, and Tree Swallows.  

Village of Sandwich

Harvey Creek Conservation Area

Harvey Creek Conservation Area is the newest park in the Sandwich Park District. 

The site was almost entirely in agricultural row-crop use prior to development. Two wetlands were delineated on site; otherwise there was little "natural" area to protect. Much of the site discharge flows to an unnamed tributary of Little Rock Creek commonly called Harvey Creek, which flows to Big Rock Creek then into the Fox River.

Now it is the largest parcel of land in the parks system consisting of 30 acres of wetlands and restored prairie. A walking path skirts the boundaries of the park to provide recreational and educational opportunities. An open-air shelter provides picnic tables for park guests. Interpretative signs are located nearby to provide information on native plants and wildlife located in the wetland. A 12 foot bridge spans an inlet to Harvey Creek to complete the circular path of the Tim Rediger Memorial Trail. The park is handicapped accessible to accommodate all users.

Town of Linn, WI

Town of Linn Nature Park

The Town of Linn Nature Park is a 160-acre community park that consists of 154 acres of tallgrass prairies, old field grasses, wetlands, and oak savannas. The savannas are remnant savannas and consists of 150+year old Bur and White oaks.   The Park is in the FoxRiver-Illinois River Basin with a tributary of Nippersink Creek running through it. The park's restored wetlands enhance water quality through biofiltration and serves as groundwater recharge for the area. The reintroduction of deep rooted native prairie species do a better job of absorbing rainfall than the non-native old field grasses that currently occupies most of the site. In addition, the removal of woody invasive species along the creek allow the native herbaceous species to recolonize on the steep banks to decrease runoff and soil erosion into Geneva Lake.

The Park is protected by a conservation easement with the Geneva Lake Conservancy in Fontana, WI. The Park is home to the state endangered Henslow's sparrow and many other important grassland birds. The open grasslands and oak savanna are ecologically important to the Town of Linn, Walworth County, and to the state of Wisconsin.

Naturalized Detention

Danada Woods Townhome Association

Naperville, IL

The stormwater system for the Danada Woods community was previously a standard turf bottom detention basin that had hydrological problems. The choice to plant natives and create habitat was a bold step for the home owners association.  This decision has paid off in the aesthetic value to the community, improved protection of water quality, and excellent habitat for birds, butterflies, and other species.  The native plants along the shoreline and in the water stabilize the soils, trap pollutants, allow for infiltration of stormwater.  Overall the site now has a lower carbon foot print.

Highland Lakes Homeowners Assocication

Highland Park, IL

There are two basins at the Highland Lakes community that help manage stormwater and help reduce discharges to the Skokie River.  In 2001 - 2003 it was evident the basins were experiencing various degrees of erosion particularly where turf grass was the primary vegetation cover.  In some areas the ground began to slough off and slide into the ponds, adding to sediment loads to the River. Water quality was poor and was chemically treated several times throughout the spring and summer. Invasive plant/animal species were present, including in particular Reed Canary Grass and Purple Loosestrife.  The shorelines of the basins were restored beginning in 2004.  There is now a minimum 6-foot native vegetative buffer along all the shorelines.  The native plants are thriving and Invasive species have been controlled.  Maintenance costs are reduced as mowing has been eliminated in the areas converted to native plants.

Village of Algonquin, IL 

Lake Drive South Naturalized Detention Basin

The Village naturalized the Lake Drive South stormwater basin beginning in 2006. The slopes were stabilized and planted with native plant species. Mesic prairie plants grow on the upper parts of the slopes, including Wild Bergamot, Black Eyed Susan, Gray Headed Cone Flower, Purple Cone Flower, Purple Prairie Clover, Blue Vervain and False Sunflower.  Wetland/aquatic plants grow below the water line.  The ecosystem now thrives with these plants and is providing outstanding habitat for birds, butterflies, and other species.  The plants in the naturalized detention basin filter stormwater, reducing pollution to downstream water bodies and allow for groundwater infiltration. 

Nantucket Cove Homeowners Association

Schaumburg, IL

The Nantucket Cove Homeowners Association retrofitted the community's stormwater basin beginning in 2004.  Shoreline erosion was prevalent, in some places there was as much as a six foot vertical drop off the shoreline. Invasive species were widespread, including Cattails, Cottonwoods and Silver Maples. There was much potential to improve habitat. The pond has depths to 15-20 feet and had small populations of mollusks, reptiles, amphibians as well as waterfowl and shorebirds. The shoreline areas were replanted with 65 pounds of native seed along with 35,000 native plant plugs. Habitat was further enhanced with Bluebird, Wood Duck and Bat Nesting Boxes. The site has had stewardship since installation with a constant program of activities designed to manage for the invasive species and continually enhance the native plantings. The deep-rooted native plants surrounding the basin are restructuring the soil to allow for more infiltration. The plants also filter nutrients and are helping keep Canada Geese away, which also helps protect water quality.

Village of Bradley, IL

Pheasant Run Naturalized Detention Basin

The Village of Bradley has been very progressive in fostering naturalized detention as a preferred means for handling stormwater runoff.  The Village has adopted a Native Landscape Ordinance, and has naturalized a number of the basins it owns and operates.  One of the restored basins manages stormwater from the Pheasant Run community.  The shorelines were regarded and planted with native species.  Maintenance is regularly conducted to ensure the health of the native species and to prevent the reintroduction of invasive species.  The basin now is now a flourishing native plant-based ecosystem, helping to protect water quality and providing valuable habitat.

Village of South Holland, IL

Naturalized Stormwater Basin, Veterans Memorial Park

Veteran’s Memorial Park in South Holland, Illinois, is a beautiful 21 acre park, located along the south bank of the Little Calumet River. It is the oldest and most active park in the community, and most major community events are held there. A wetland basin was constructed as part of the park, to provide an amenity for visitors, to help protect water quality, and to help mitigate flooding issues.  The design included approximately 3,000 square yards of native seeding, 9,000 native shoreline and wetland plugs, granite boulders and oak stumps for accent materials.

Sustainable Stormwater Management

Centex Homes

Crossings at Wolf Creek Community, Plainfield, IL

Sustainable stormwater management features were planned and implemented as the Crossings at Wolf Creek community was developed.  There are broad areas of green open space which slow the movement of stormwater toward Wolf Creek and which allow of some of the water to be absorbed into the ground.  The Creek was widened and the slopes were made less steep to accommodate fluctuations in flow due to stormwater runoff.  The shoreline areas, above and below the water lines, were planted with native species.  The planting have stabilized the shoreline, help trap pollutants, and provide wonderful habitat for amphibians, birds, butterflies, and other species.

College of DuPage

Roadway, Parking Lot and Associated Landscape Improvements

There are several valuate natural areas at the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn, including the Russell R. Kirk Prairie, and the B.J. Hoddinott Wildlife Sanctuary.  In planning improvements to the roads, driveways, and parking areas, the College made the decision to extend the prairie theme across the campus and to build in sustainable stormwater features to reduce runoff volumes and reduce pollutant loadings.  Vegetated swales, planted with native species, are incorporated throughout the parking areas.  In addition to dramatically helping reduce problems associated with stormwater runoff, the swales reduce "urban heat island" effects in the parking area in the summer, and provide habitat. 

Geneva School District

Geneva Middle School North

The Geneva Middle Schools are located just east of Peck Farm Park, and important natural areas and valuable water resources.  In planning the construction of Geneva Middle School North, the School District made the decision to incorporate significant native landscaping elements and sustainable stormwater management systems.  The native landscape design included naturalized stormwater management facilities, sedimentation basins, and bioswales.  Vegetation community types included aquatic, deep emergent, shallow emergent, wet meadow, shoreline, and prairie.  The stormwater system does an excellent job of reducing runoff volumes and pollutant loads, adds aesthetic value to the campus, provides habitat, and provides an outdoor learning area for students.

Wetland/Stream Corridor Restorations

Argonne National Laboratory Wetland Restoration

Argonne National Laboratory US Department of Energy

This wetland is a mitigation site, originally constructed to replace wetlands that were destroyed from a construction project.

In 1999 the wetland was mostly cattails surrounded by clay construction soil debris. The restoration included the establishment of a prairie around the wetland to create a buffer, adding a water control structure and native plantings in the wetland water collection system.  Management activities included the removal of part of parking lot to divert poor quality water away from the wetland and prescribed burns, herbicide, plantings, and brush clearing.

 This wetland is now a part of a larger restoration area with a prairie and savanna which managed as a single unit.


Nepese Marsh Restoration

Nepese Marsh is a restored 5 acres hemi-marsh wetland created from an abandoned wastewater lagoon.  This site is part of a large complex of open water, wetlands, upland forests and prairie, all of which is over 6000 acres. 

The pond was an abandoned oxidation pond that was used by the village of Weston prior to the lab's existence.  It was being aerated to keep it from becoming septic, and it was essentially dead, with low D.O. and very high organic load.

Extensive re-seeding and some plug plantings have been done each year for the last six years.  The site is routinely surveyed (qualitatively) by birdwatchers, and the first plant surveys were done in 2008.  The water level is occasionally adjusted by pumping to obtain optimal water level.

The previous pond was a pass through, but the new wetland provides all the de-toxing function of wetlands, removing pollutants from stormwater.

This project enabled the lab to discontinue the aeration at a cost savings of approximately $3500 per year.

Erickson Retirement Communities

Monarch Landing

Construction of this retirement facility resulted in the impact of 2.95 acres of low-quality wetland.

On-site compensatory mitigation activities included the following:

Additionally, a detention basin was constructed and naturalized to address pretreatment of stormwater runoff.

The project design and construction involved the natural reconfiguration of the tributary and enhancement of the associated wetland corridor.  In addition, reestablishment of a natural stream condition provided opportunity to create wetlands in a series of backwater “pools” along the stream channel and also the creation of more subtle upland buffer slopes.

The project has enhanced the creek corridor by creating a more natural stream system that provides significant water quality and wildlife habitat benefits.  In addition, an on-site critical wetland was preserved.  Enhancement through prescribed burning and seeding has restored the quality of the habitat.

The management of  Monarch Landing supports the objective to restore a natural community to ecological health by restoring the landscape to its pre-settlement conditions.  

Chicago Premium Outlets

Stream Corridor, Wetland, Prairie Restoration

The project involved the construction of a retail outlet mall, associated infrastructure, stormwater management facilities, and the creation of an 82.52-acre complex of wetland, buffer and stream channel within the Indian Creek floodplain.

Prior to development the majority of the property was used for agricultural production.  A small oak woodland, scrub-shrub and marsh communities were also present.  Indian Creek which flows from north to south through the site, was channelized and had a relatively straight flow path.

This site was specifically identified by the City of Aurora and Kane County Environmental Management Department to be critical in providing additional flood control for the Indian Creek watershed.  Prior to construction of the project frequent flooding of Indian Creek and economic damage to downstream properties were common.  

Construction of the mall and compensatory storage resulted in the impact to 20.87 acres of wetland and waters of the U.S.  Mitigation for the project has been provided at a ratio of 3.1:1 through the creation of a wetland/buffer/creek complex.

A total of 3.70 acres, or 3400 linear feet, of Indian Creek were reconstructed to create a more natural meandering stream shape.  The stream channel alterations included creation of meanders and riffle/pool structures in association with the wetland/buffer complex within the floodplain.

This project provided significant compensatory floodplain storage in the Indian Creek watershed that has resulted in significant downstream flood control benefits, providing approximately 100 acre-feet of additional storage.

Ongoing management has included invasive species removal through hand pulling, mowing, and herbicide application; controlled burning; and monitoring of plant communities.

In 2007, the site contained 136 native species with a Floristic Quality Index of 51.7.  The project has resulted in the establishment of 82.52 acres of high quality emergent, sedge meadow, aquatic, riparian, and prairie habitat along Indian Creek.  Based on floristic quality data, the complex has natural area quality.  The 82.52-acre complex will be donated to the Kane County Forest Preserve District to provide recreational opportunities and ensure long-term management.

The location of the open space complex at the entrance of a highly used regional mall will help to develop awareness and understanding of local biodiversity and help foster a sustainable relationship between society and nature in the region.   

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