Orland Perimeter Restoration


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


The Orland Tract Perimeter restoration is 275 acres on the perimeter of 949-acre property owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC). It is located in the Village of Orland Park, in southwestern Cook County, Ill., approximately 25 miles southwest of Chicago. The entire 949-acre site is an important resting and forage site for the Lake Michigan migratory flyway. 


Various restoration activities on the 949-acre site have been ongoing for many years by others including the Audubon Society, CorLands (non-profit preservation group), the FPDCC, and volunteers. USACE has a separate project under construction authorized by Section 206, WRDA 1996 within the interior of the 949 acre site. The Orland perimeter restoration project operated under the authority of Section 506, WRDA 2000 and is a 275-acre restoration which includes the selective removal of secondary forest species and invasive woody species on wet savanna and wet prairie. The project included hydraulic repair, removal of the invasive species through the use of a brush hog, chain saws, herbicide application, and prescribed burns. Native plants replaced the removed invasive plants by seeding and planting plugs, trees and shrubs.


Immediate ecological benefits included the elimination of invasive species and their seed sources on 275 acres of land providing open space, water and sunlight for native species of a globally rare plant community. Removal of the trees also helped raise the water table at the entire site by reducing water loss by evapotranspiration. A population of Sand Hill Cranes uses Orland Tract as a stopover point during migrations and benefit from this project. Other migratory neotropical bird species that use Orland Tract are: Eastern Towhee, Clay-colored Sparrow, Black-billed Cuckoo (Illinois state listed) and American Woodcock. According to recent bird census numbers, collected by the Audubon Society, Orland Tract hosts the largest abundance of birds in the region. Overall, migratory bird species greatly benefit by the restored Orland Tract Perimeter.


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Federal Cost:


Non-Federal Cost:


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


More than 57,000 native plants and 5,500 pounds of native seed have been planted in the grassland, and without the drainage tiles, more than 50 acres of seasonal and year-round wetland have reappeared. About a dozen native grassland bird species were still in the preserve when the restoration process started. Species like the bobolink and meadowlark have seen their population grow exponentially. Now that the heavy machinery from the project construction is off the site, hundreds of species will return in large numbers every year.


Awarded a three-year construction contract in September 2011. Construction was completed in October 2014. A three-year monitoring program was initiated in spring 2015.