Lake Forest Prairie
Lake Forest, Illinois, United States
Certified through 2022
Lake Forest Prairie
About the Program
Exelon Corporation’s subsidiary ComEd manages a conservation program at Lake Forest Prairie, a 51-acre powerline rights of way. The site is adjacent to the 123-acre remnant prairie, Skokie River Nature Preserve near Chicago, Illinois. Objectives include managing the 49.2-acre restored prairie and the 2.2-acre remnant prairie, identifying and responding to new or worsening threats, meeting ComEd's prairie standards as identified in the Prairie Standardization Plan, and meeting the University of Illinois-Chicago's Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working group definition of pollinator habitat.
Employees are engaged in the project, as well as ComEd's contractor, Stantec (administration and technical oversight, on-the-ground management and monitoring), Lake Forest Openlands and the Village of Lake Forest (meeting facilitation, review of the sites, and assistance with long-term management plans).
Practices and Impacts
- Control of invasive species such as purple loosestrife, reed canary grass, teasel, and crown vetch includes seasonal herbicide treatments, as well as adaptive management techniques such as prescribed burning or dormant season mowing.
- Monitoring of the site is done at least once annually to assess outcomes of previous management and assess new and ongoing threats.
- Monitoring results show in 2019 116 native species with a native mean C value of 3.47 and native FQI of 39.9. A total of 40% of the native plants have a C value of 4 or greater. Notable conservative plants include prairie brome, New Jersey tea, purple prairie clover, pale purple coneflower, bottle gentian, hoary puccoon and Riddell's goldenrod.
- Monitoring also shows use by bees, flies, butterflies, wasps, and beetles. Due to the high plant diversity there is an abundance of pollen and nectar sources throughout the growing season. Monarchs and several species of milkweed were observed in 2019. The southern portion of the site has a mixture of native vegetation and bare ground that may provide suitable habitat for ground-nesting insects.
- Future actions planned include use of prescribed fire, documenting plants and general pollinator use by conducting annual site monitoring, and site assessment.
- ComEd has developed this project in accordance with their Prairie Standardization Plan, that assists site like the Lake Forest Prairie in defining grasslands function and values, as well as principles to guide management, such as having only one tree per acre, at least 50% of the species being native grasses, a minimum of 25 native species, and more.
- Contractors with Stantec assist with administration and technical oversight of ComEd's Prairie Program and provide on-the-ground management and monitoring at the Lake Forest Prairie site. In total, partners spend approximately 273 hours per years on project-specific activities.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE WHC INDEX IS GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY