The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be spending millions of dollars in the next couple of years to remove invasive species, encourage native plant growth and replenish the underground water source for a patch of extremely rare habitat in Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve.
This USACE project falls under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act, which protects aquatic resources in the United States.
The project’s goal is to restore the natural habitat and critical groundwater relationship between the Forest Preserve’s Prairie Bluff Preserve in Crest Hill and Lockport Prairie in Lockport Township.
USACE released a bid packet for the project on November 17 and bids will be opened December 19, said the Forest Preserve District of Will County in their release.
Restoration work could begin this winter and it will span an estimated five years. The project will total $2.5 million initially, but there could be additional appropriations in the coming years to fund more restoration options at Prairie Bluff.
“The Forest Preserve and Army Corps of Engineers have been working together for over a decade to develop a strategy to preserve and enhance Lockport Prairie,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. “We’re excited this project is moving into its next phase with a significant investment by the Corps in preserving the future of one of Will County’s natural wonders.”
Initial work will involve invasive species removal at Lockport Prairie and implementation of erosion control measures.
According to the Forest Preserve District of Will County, restoration work is needed at the site because human activity has disrupted the flow of groundwater from Prairie Bluff to Lockport Prairie.