The North Branch Restoration Project is a group of dedicated citizens that work to help protect and restore native Illinois ecosystems. Precious remnants of our Illinois natural heritage are still found along the North Branch of the Chicago River, in forest preserves and other public lands. They hold remnants of the rich plant and animal communities that once graced the broad Illinois landscape.
We dream of a future where healthy native landscapes are managed for the benefit of all and where a knowledgeable public works hand in hand with landowners.
For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught. — Baba Dioum
But nature in the midst of a busy metropolitan area needs some help to thrive. Through hands-on efforts, we work to reverse some of the negative effects of human activities. By removing introduced weeds and invasive brush, we reduce competition that threatens native plants. Collecting and scattering seeds of native species, we restore the grasses and wildflowers to places where they’ve died out. And we help the Forest Preserve District bring back restorative fire to the prairies and woodlands.
The North Branch Restoration Project is an all-volunteer organization. We are teachers, pipe-fitters, lawyers, business owners, pharmacists, and students. We welcome all who care about the natural land to join this exciting and rewarding work!
We work in cooperation with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the Volunteer Stewardship Network of The Nature Conservancy and the many conservation organizations within the Chicago Wilderness coalition.
Check the Calendar for details on upcoming events:
NOTE: The Harms Woods workday for April 21 has been cancelled. The workday will instead be held at Blue Star Woods, 9am to noon.
Directions: Blue Star is the next preserve north of Harms and is accessed from the parking lot that is on the south side of Lake Ave, west of Harms Road and just east of the bike path overpass at Lake Ave. At the red Forest Preserve sign, enter the driveway and go all the way south to the end of the parking area.
Map for Blue Star Woods.
We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. — Aldo Leopold
Removing buckthorn, an invasive shrub introduced from Europe. If allowed, it will take over the woodlands, shading out the native grasses and wildflowers.
Collecting Native Seeds
Seeds are key to restoring the native groundlayer. Ripe seeds are collected and re-distributed in restoration sites along the North Branch.
Bringing Back Fire
Fire shaped the landscape for thousands of years before settlement. Part of making the prairies and woodlands healthy again is restoring this important natural process.