McDowell Grove Forest Preserve work finished
Sun Staff November 6, 2012 10:36AM
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:28AM
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has reopened the northern portion of McDowell Grove Forest Preserve in Naperville, following the completion of thorium clean-up work along the West Branch of the DuPage River.
The main entrance and a reconstructed parking lot on Raymond Drive are once again open to visitors. Two facilities at the preserve, the picnic shelter and open picnic area, will remain closed until summer 2013 or whenever suitable turf has been established.
“Visitors will notice a few areas fenced off to allow turf grass and native plantings to grow,” says Jay Johnson, a site manager for the Forest Preserve District. “Though the remediation work is complete, we will all be able to watch the preserve transform into a healthier natural area as plant plugs grow along the riverbanks and wildlife moves into the newly restored areas.”
The project is part of large-scale cleanup and restoration work taking place along a stretch of the West Branch of the DuPage River. The thorium deposits originated from a former gas-light manufacturing plant that operated in West Chicago beginning in the 1930s. Contaminated soils were found buried under layers of clean sediment in the river’s banks and in flood plains.
During the restoration, contaminated soils were removed and the river was enhanced with rocky material to increase oxygen levels and improve the habitat for fish and other creatures. Thousands of plantings were added to stabilize river banks and provide habitat for wildlife.
Like other DuPage County forest preserves, McDowell Grove is open daily from one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset.