Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission
Prospect Heights Slough Native Habitat Improvement
Slough Native Habitat Improvement Plan
We plan to restore habitat and biodiversity to a historically important wetland in the heart of our community.
More than 60% of the state of Illinois was historically a prairie-wetland landscape. Today, around 90% of Illinois' wetlands have been lost, mostly through farming, drainage, urbanization and development. Rehabilitating the remaining wetlands within Illinois should be of utmost priority.
The Slough located in the City of Prospect Heights is one of the last remaining natural wetlands in the Chicagoland area. This area still contains some degree of original habitat and supports a tremendous amount of wildlife. Historical aerial photographs and topography suggest that it has existed since the glaciers retreated; 1838 land surveys support this.
The Slough has seen many negative impacts from nearby developments such as alterations in hydrology, introduction of invasive species, poorer water quality, salt impact, erosion, and sediment accumulation. Decades of neglect and lack of natural areas management have resulted in a severe degradation of natural plant and animal populations, resulting in a dramatic loss of biodiversity and ecological integrity.
The Slough has been identified as a wetland by the National Wetlands Inventory. Many species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals depend on the Slough for habitat and a breeding. It is a critical stopover point along the migration route for thousands of waterfowl that utilize the site during the spring and fall. It is also a treasured recreational area for the residents of Prospect Heights who enjoy walking and observing its natural environment throughout the year.
The current lack of biodiversity is mostly due to a gross infestation of invasive plant species. The Slough contains 8 acres of land that is mostly saturated throughout the year, but occupied by mono-cultures of reed canary grass and hybrid cattails. The surrounding 4 acres of land around the Slough are important transitional buffer zones but contain invasive species such as Buckthorn thicket. Removing these highly invasive species is of utmost importance in restoring the ecological integrity of the area.
Individual scattered pockets of lake sedge (Carex lacustris) and other remaining native vegetation provide hope of a seeded stream bank waiting to be released. Native vegetation will be introduced to those areas that prove devoid of dormant native species. Restoring flora will reduce soil erosion and increase filtration of harmful particles before they reach the water. This will result in greatly increasing biodiversity and crucial habitat.
The Slough has been undeveloped for decades to preserve its natural treasures. This has been a well-intentioned, but ineffective management technique. One of the most important goals of our project is to involve the community, providing much needed public education and resources. Promoting the importance of natural wetland habitats through education and volunteer stewardship will significantly improve the quality of life in our city and surrounding communities. This project would be the first phase in a series of restoration activities in Prospect Heights. The activities will prove to be nurturing and sustainable with dedicated community involvement.
Goals of Project
• To increase biodiversity through safe removal and control of invasive reed canary grass through the environmentally neutral,
licensed application of herbicide.
• To remove invasive species such as Buckthorn around the wetland, utilizing volunteers to accomplish most of the labor.
• To foster volunteer involvement and stewardship of natural areas. This will promote sustainability and long-term viability of
• To replace turf grass and Buckthorn with over 80 species native and local ecotype marsh, sedge meadow, wet prairie and
mesic plant species around the lower Slough and eventually upper Hillcrest Lake in a landscaped, easily accessible manner.
Landscape will be complemented by interpretive signs and plant identification tags (see attached diagram).
• To promote education about native plants and natural areas throughout local school districts, encouraging hands-on
education at the Slough and providing the resources to do so. Educational materials and invitations to visit the site will be
made locally available. Volunteer Stewards will dedicate their time to educate the public.
• To provide a natural buffer of native vegetation which will add habitat, decrease erosion through better soil stabilization, and
improve filtration of harmful substances to the Slough.
• To increase the aesthetic value of the current walking area frequented by residents.
• To increase awareness about the importance of the environment and natural areas throughout the community.
Read more about invasive buckthorn: