Work progressing on $7.5 million creek restoration near Warrenville
Construction is expected to be completed later this year on a roughly $7.5 million restoration of a stretch of creek that runs through Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville.
The project, which started last year, will create a healthier habitat along Spring Brook Creek -- a tributary of the West Branch of the DuPage River. The work is being funded with a contribution the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County received from the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
"Our mission is to preserve and protect the environment and habitats," said Scott Meister, manager of natural resources with the forest preserve district. "We feel this project falls right in line with our mission."
Originally excavated in the early 1900s as a drainage ditch, the creek flows southwest from the center of Wheaton to the West Branch of the DuPage River.
The forest preserve district had long wanted to restore the creek, but it didn't have the money until the tollway contributed millions of dollars to mitigate construction impacts associated with rebuilding the Central Tri-State Tollway.
In 2015, the district completed a restoration of a half-mile of the creek through St. James Farm near Warrenville.
The current work in Blackwell picked up where the previous project left off. It calls for roughly a mile of the creek to be restored, from Winfield Road to a pedestrian bridge west of Silver Lake.
As part of the work, the creek is being reconfigured to replicate a more natural, meandering stream.
In addition to twists and turns, the restored creek will have deeper and shallower areas "to create a diversity of habitat, to improve water quality, and improve the fish and wildlife that lives in Spring Brook," Meister said.
Crews also will remove a small dam responsible for forming a shallow body of water that has a lot of sediment.
"There's low oxygen levels in the water in that impoundment," Meister said, "so it's not good for fish at all."
Another reason to remove the dam is it's a barrier to fish movement. Once the structure is gone, Meister said, fish will be able to swim upstream.
In addition, crews are going to make shoreline improvements and wetland restoration. Nonnative species and invasive plants will be removed on the sides of the creek, and native species will be planted.
Part of a regional trail that runs through Blackwell will be rerouted because it's in a floodplain.
"It would flood often," Meister said. "So we're moving the trail to higher ground."
Finally, two bridges are being constructed as part of the project. The first will replace a pedestrian bridge that was deteriorating. The second bridge will help alleviate flooding on one of the service roads in the preserve.
More than half the new creek channel has been built. Work on the creek channel is expected to resume in June or July and be completed in late fall.