Remarkably, the Chicago metropolitan area containes some of Illinois’ largest and best remnants of our native eco-systems. These remaining natural lands are precious and irreplaceable, but they need our help to survive and prosper. That’s where groups such as the North Branch Restoration Project come in.

Restoration is a new way to interact with nature – helping to restore health and vigor to damaged natural areas through stewardship.

Every weekend, in all kinds of weather, volunteers gather at scheduled sites to work, restoring health to the preserves by cutting brush, pulling weeds, gathering and sowing seeds. Citizen scientists collect important information about the plants and animals, monitoring changes in sites as restoration proceeds and adding to the knowledge of local ecosystems.

Today, many groups in the Chicago area and the rest of our country are involved in the restoration of native habitats. Among these groups, the North Branch Restoration Project has been called a model for volunteer stewardship and ecological restoration.


Structure Matters
Historically, our region was a mosaic of prairie and wooded habitats. Savannas, woodlands and forests were defined by the oak hickory canopy. more…

Removing Invasive Species
Humans have always had the ability to take plants and animals from their native habitats and introduce them to new lands. more…

Seeds for the Future
Under the dense shade of buckthorn and other invasives, much of the groundlayer the flowers, grasses and sedges has died out. more…

The Ecology of fire
Fire has shaped our northeastern Illinois landscape for millennia. Our prairie, wetland and wooded ecosystems need the natural process of fire if they are to remain vibrant and flourishing. more…

Fire in Forest Preserve Management
Today’s land managers use prescribed burns safely and effectively to keep natural areas healthy. Careful, detailed planning and trained, well equipped personnel are key to the successful program. more…

Herbicide in Forest Preserve Management
Land managers have found that herbicides, used sparingly, are an important tool in the initial phase of management. The effects of herbicides used are specific to plants and have virtually no effect on animals, humans and the environment. more…

Taking the pulse of the land
An important part of restoring health to natural lands is keeping track of progress. There are many different questions we might ask – one would be what is happening to the plant community more…



Yellow False Foxglove brightens the view along the bike path.

The open savanna is dotted with splashes of bright pink Blazing Star; this one is visited by a nectaring Tiger Swallowtail (the female dark form).

At over six feet, this Tall Coreopsis lives up to its name.

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