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Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie-Old

Region: Illinois
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie-Old


The over 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is considered one of the most important conservation initiatives in Illinois of the 20th century and was established as a direct result of leadership and advocacy by Openlands.

In 1993, when the U.S. Army declared the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant as excess property, Openlands saw an opportunity to create a world-class urban open space in northeastern Illinois. Openlands took a leadership role in advocating passage of legislation that would provide the framework for making the plan a reality. On February 10, 1996, President Clinton signed the Illinois Land Conservation Act creating the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

During this time, Openlands also worked in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and other organizations to develop The Prairie Plan for the restoration of a unique prairie ecosystem with unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation, wildlife viewing, environmental education, research, and volunteerism. Midewin is now considered a model process for conversion of surplus federal property to public open space. The land continues to be restored to native ecosystems, which makes it the largest piece of protected open space in northeastern Illinois.  

Today, Openlands is continuing its progress on implementing five restoration projects selected for funding under the O’Hare Modernization Mitigation Account (OMMA). The latest of the five OMMA projects where field work is underway is the 205-acre Drummond Flood Plain restoration at Midewin. The Drummond project is an integral part of a larger landscape plan to restore dolomite prairie habitats on the west side of Midewin and to connect them to Grant Creek Prairie State Nature Preserve, which is owned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In addition to the Drummond Flood Plain, Openlands’ staff continues to work with Midewin and the Forest Preserve District of Will County on potential land preservation, stream restoration and trail initiatives connecting to Midewin.

Location: Will County, Illinois
Funding Source: O'Hare Modernization Mitigation Account (OMMA)
Owner & land manager: U.S. Forest Service
Size of project site: 205 acres

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