North Chicago Wetland

North Chicago Wetland Mitigation Site

The Illinois Tollway is conducting a wetland restoration project on a 160-acre site owned by the State of Illinois in North Chicago. The site is located in Lake County just south of Buckley Road (IL Route 137) between IL Route 41 and IL Route 43 and east of the Tri-State Tollway (I-94).

The North Chicago Wetland Mitigation Site (NCWMS) includes a highly diverse mosaic of prairie, old field, and wetland habitats.

We surveyed for Blanding’s Turtles in 2007 and began monitoring the plant community in 2009. In 2015 we added bird and aquatic invertebrate surveys, and in 2016, acoustic monitoring for bats.

Habitat restoration contracted by the Tollway included:

– Planting native prairie and wetland seeds
– Invasive shrub removal in 2010-2011
Prescribed fire in 2012-2014

Plot at North Chicago in 2009 (before restoration efforts), 2012 (after restoration efforts), and 2015

Highlights from our work at the North Chicago Mitigation Site:

  • 450 vascular plant species were identified, 356 of which were native species including populations of four threatened and endangered species
  • Numerous locations of high-quality prairie and wetland habitats
  • There is suitable habitat for the state endangered Blandings’ Turtle
  • Multiple species of bats utilize the site
  • The NCWMS site serves as important stopover habitat for fall migratory birds
  • No sensitive aquatic macroinvertebrates were found