A Morning Walk at Hadley Valley Preserve Joliet, Illinois USA. When you start the walk the air is filled with the a wonderful scent of wildflowers. It was early morning 6am Central Standard Time, just 50 minutes S.W. of Chicago IL. Will County is known for collecting/protecting old forests and prairies. I actually know the story behind this prairie, since I grew up in Lockport, IL which is on the N.W. corner of this prairie.
When I was a teenager we used to ride our horses out to this farm land. It was a gravel/dirt road back in the day. My friend Flossy who owned the horse farm next to me, allowed me to board my horse at her stable and accepted a barter in labor by cleaning stalls and feeding horses. She said she knew a haunted farm up the road, it would be a fun ride in the late afternoon. We rode to the farm (now Hadley Valley) and through a forest as we entered. All of a sudden the wind inside the forest started howling and the horses became spooked. I was spooked to, the wind was in seconds from calm to 50-70mph ....and the tree branches were bending.
I later found out that the property was actually bought to stop the pesticides/fertilizer run-offs into a few streams on the property that runs into the Lockport water supply and was contaminating the water.
The farm, land and streams were bought by Will County and they began a restoration/reconstruction project to clean the land, and they now grow grasses and plants that can we harvested by local farmers to feed local farm animals.
Hadley Valley protects a diversity of habitats, including forest, savanna, wetland and a portion of Spring Creek. Wildlife found at the preserve includes more than 15,000 species of insects, birds, aquatic invertebrates, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. The preserve is also home to a variety of plant species, including tall swamp marigold, wahoo, great angelica, yellow avens and shingle oak. The preserve is also the location of the largest effort in the District’s history — a stream de-channelization, wetland restoration and wildlife habitat restoration project in 500 acres of the preserve — performed in partnership with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Openlands, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the O’Hare Modernization Program.
This project has won the following awards: the 2019 Excellence in Ecological Restoration Program accreditation from Chicago Wilderness; the 2010 Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association's Implementation Award; the 2009 Illinois Parks and Recreation Association's Outstanding Conservation Program; and the 2008 Chicago Wilderness' Excellence in Conservation Award.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor