Major ecological restoration project begins at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

December 21, 2015

Openlands is excited to announce that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will launch an important ecological restoration project at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve. Over the next five years, the project will reestablish critical habitat along a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline at Fort Sheridan including Openlands’ Schenck Ravine on the south and Lake Forest’s McCormick Ravine on the north.

For Openlands the project will include several key components. Located at the southern end of the Preserve, Schenck Ravine will be restored to support a diverse composition of native trees, grasses, and wildflowers as well as providing habitat and food for resident wildlife and birds. By removing non-native and invasive trees, sunlight—essential to establishing this self-sustaining ecosystem—will be reintroduced to the ravine slopes. This work will begin as soon as the ground freezes. In the spring, the restoration of the Schenck Ravine stream will begin, creating pools and riffles to manage stormwater, reduce erosion, and to significantly improve fish habitat.

We will also restore portions of the southern bluffs and expand the habitat for the endangered marram grass that is essential in forming low dunes that protect the toe of the bluff from wave action and that provides much-needed habitat for hundreds of species of migrating birds.

Our project is part of a $7.4 million Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration program whose purpose is to implement projects that support the restoration of the ecosystems and fisheries of the Great Lakes. Openlands is delighted to be partnering with the Lake County Forest Preserves, Lake Forest Open Lands Association, and the City of Lake Forest. Through this partnership we are able to share expertise regarding how best to achieve successful restoration work and create a project of significant scale and impact that no one partner could achieve on their own.

Under this program the federal government will provide 65% of the project funds. Openlands is grateful for the tremendous support of Grand Victoria Foundation, who not only provided Openlands’ match for the Corps project, but has funded all of the ecological restoration at the Preserve.

Questions or comments regarding the project should be directed to the Corps by phone at 312-846-5330 or by email at If you need further assistance, please contact Openlands at

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