The Warrenville Grove Forest Preserve in Warrenville has reopened following completion of several improvements for healthier habitat and better recreational access.
The work was conducted as part of the ongoing restoration of the West Branch of the DuPage River, which included remediation of the waterway as it passes through Warrenville Grove. A dam was removed that for years had created buildup of sediment and a reduction of habitat quality.
In the new configuration, water passes over boulders and cobblestone that create riffles, runs and cascades that aerate the water. This allows for fish passage and provides better conditions for aquatic organisms. The new design also offers safer passage for paddlers.
Jay Johnson, a site manager for the forest preserve district, cautions paddlers that even though Warrenville Grove now offers two canoe launches, it is best suited as a takeout site while river restoration work remains under way downstream in McDowell Grove Forest Preserve in Naperville.
"Once the entire project is complete, paddlers will be able to travel unimpeded along miles of a beautiful waterway before portaging around Fawell Dam in McDowell Grove," Johnson said.
Among several recreational improvements, visitors can now enjoy a wheelchair-accessible fishing overlook, natural stone outcrops for wildlife viewing and a 450-foot trail that connects the parking lot to the two canoe launches.
The preserve's historic pedestrian bridge remains in place, offering access to a grassy picnic area and a regional multipurpose trail that connects with several other forest preserves and the Illinois Prairie Path. Native vegetation and plantings enhance the beauty of the shoreline and provide improved aquatic habitat.
"Even though it's only 126 acres, Warrenville Grove is part of a corridor of open space that offers a peaceful shelter away from the hustle and bustle of suburban life," Johnson said.
"We know that visitors will be happy to once again toss a fishing line in the river, spread a blanket for a picnic in the sunshine or just soak up the sounds of nature."
Warrenville Grove's public parking lot is on Batavia Road, south of Butterfield Road. Like other DuPage County forest preserves, it is open daily from one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset.
For more information on Warrenville Grove Forest Preserve, call the district's Visitor Services department weekdays at (630) 933-7248.
The improvement projects were funded by a grant from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration that was administered by the DuPage County Stormwater Management Division.