The Morton Arboretum and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are partnering on a project to restore a 1.5-mile section of the East Branch of the DuPage River that runs through the Arboretum. The goal is to improve the environmental health of the river and its surrounding ecosystem, creating better conditions for trees, wildlife, and their habitat.
Along this stretch of the river, the restoration project involves regrading the badly eroded stream banks, removing invasive and unhealthy trees and other plants, preserving certain trees at the site, and relocating others elsewhere on the grounds. More than 850 new trees and native plants will be planted later along the riverbanks.
While the project serves to mitigate severe soil erosion and property loss, a key component is safeguarding trees in the Arboretum’s globally important collections. Over several decades, water has scoured the soil from around tree roots, causing some trees to fall and endangering many more. The newly recontoured banks and resulting native habitat areas will be a buffer to protect trees along the waterway, as well as improve water quality. The project will also provide a higher quality habitat for wildlife such as birds, butterflies, fish, and aquatic animals.
Most of the project will be completed by mid-2017, with sustainable benefits provided for years to come as trees and other vegetation grow and prosper, and a greater diversity of plant and animal life develops in the water and along the banks.