A joint collaboration between the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District and the DeKalb Park District, the Pollinator Prairie Restoration Project aims at restoring native grasslands and wetlands at both Hopkins Community Park and Rotary Park.
The Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District (KWRD) began the process of converting 3.15 acres of mowed turf grass within the treatment plant facility, located at 1301 Sycamore Road, to native habitat in May 2017. This project was initiated in an effort to reduce mowing costs and lawn maintenance, as well as to improve the KWRD facility's ability to capture stormwater and reduce runoff.
With these sites in the KWRD facility now established and positively received, the restoration of additional acreage was discussed and encouraged by the KWRD Board of Trustees. In 2019, the DeKalb Park District informed KWRD of their desire to convert open areas of park property to native habitats. Subsequent discussion between the two organizations led to the determination that a cooperative partnership could allow for the economical implementation of these projects by drawing on the strengths and experiences of the two groups.
The Park District has designated two major areas to be restored to native habitat. One such area is within Hopkins Park, a roughly 78.5-acre park that consists predominantly of mowed lawn and large oak trees. The Park District has determined that between 3-7 acres of Hopkins Park would be a suitable location to begin engaging in native habitat restoration. This area is not heavily trafficked for recreational purposes, and so would not impede citizens' enjoyment of the park amenities. Additionally, a portion of the proposed Hopkins Park native habitats would be adjacent to a proposed KWRD native habitat. The Park District and KWRD are interested in the possibility of maintaining these adjacent habitats as one continuous unit.
The other major area that has been proposed for native habitat restoration is Rotary Park, a roughly 23-acre park located at 1504 State Street. Rotary Park is a recreational park that is comprised of two large retention ponds and a bike trail that forms a ring around them. The existing vegetation currently consists of mowed turf grass on the outer edge of the bike path, with a mix of mowed turf grass and some taller vegetation alongside the retention ponds.
Herbicide applications in select areas at both parks (see site maps below) by staff licensed by the State of Illinois, will take place in August and September 2020, followed by native seeds being planted sometime in October/November 2020.
Native habitat restoration is a process that requires patience, as it takes at least three years for the native plantings to become established. In time, the restored areas will return to a natural state that provides a safe ecosystem for local pollinators. This project is funded in part with the ComEd Green Region Program.