US Army Corps of Engineers
Chicago District Website

Burnham Prairie Restoration

AUTHORITY:

Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) Program, Section 506 on the Water Resources Development Act of 2000, as amended

LOCATION:   

Located in the Southeast corner of Cook County within Burnham, Illinois, one mile south of Chicago and one mile west of the Indiana State Line. Burnham Prairie is a 93-acre site of which 80-acres are a State of Illinois Nature Preserve owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

DESCRIPTION: 

The project restored 93 acres of marsh, sedge meadow, savanna, wet prairie, and wet-mesic prairie. The site's hydrology has been restored with the construction of a berm to prevent floodwaters from impacting groundwater-fed wetlands. The incorporation of soil amendments in conjunction with the reduction of floodwaters reduces the deposition and retention of excessive nutrients. Additional restoration measures included the removal of invasive species, clearing invasive trees and shrubs within degraded prairies, prescribed burns, seeding and planting plugs of native species, and installing fencing. This project builds upon the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative which is to protect and restore our lands and waters, and provide places for Americans to experience the great outdoors.

BENEFITS:  

The project restored a remnant ridge and swale complex. Woodlands comprised of invasive woody species have been cleared and fire has been reintroduced to restore historic wet prairie communities, allowing native seed banks with rare and conservative plant species to germinate. Burnham Prairie lies just a few miles west of the western edge of Lake Michigan and is known as an internationally significant area for migratory birds. Restoring the remnant ridge and swale complex also greatly benefits wetland species of birds, especially the shore birds and waterfowl by providing forage, shelter, and breeding habitat.

COSTS:

Total Project Cost:

 $2,142,480

Federal Cost:

 $1,392,612

Non-Federal Cost:

 $749,868

*This project was partially funded with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds.

HIGHLIGHT:
  • The rare North Adder’s Tongue Fern was found after clearing and invasive species removal during the first year of the contract. This fern was not seen at the site for over five years prior to this.

  • Another significant accomplishment for this project was the replacement of large monotypic stands of invasive hybrid cattail and reed canary grass with diverse native plant communities, including healthy populations of species historically recorded at this site such as Northern Adder's-Tongue (Ophioglossum pusillum), Marsh Mermaidweed (Proserpinaca palustris var. crebra), and Greater Yellow Water Buttercup (Ranunculus flabellaris).

STATUS: 

The five-year post construction monitoring phase for restoration at Burnham Prairie was completed this fall - which marks project completion. Kudos to the entire team!! Located in the southeast corner of Cook County within Burnham, Illinois, one mile south of Chicago and one mile west of the Indiana State Line, Burnham Prairie is a 93-acre site of which 80 acres are a State of Illinois Nature Preserve owned by the project's local sponsor, the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

A five-year construction contract was awarded in June 2011, and construction was completed in June 2016. 

Project Manager

Nicole Toth