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Orland Grassland
Orland Grassland is a 960-acre open space preserve and is a holding of the Cook County Forest Preserve District.  This ecological wonder is bordered on the north by 167th Street, on the east by La Grange Road, on the south by 179th Street and on the west by 104th Avenue.

Orland Grassland is in Phase Two of an ongoing ecological restoration project, which will return the preserve to prairie, wetland, oak savanna and oak woodlands – much like it was before this area was settled. During Phase Two, invasive trees, many of which were planted by the Forest Preserve District after the land was taken out of agricultural use, will be removed to restore the native prairie and savanna communities.

While invasive trees will be removed from the Grassland’s interior, a one-hundred foot perimeter of trees and shrubs will be kept along the borders of the preserve to act as a visual screen in those areas.

The goal of the project is to provide a variety of habitat types for wildlife (some of which are in decline), support native plants that need light to thrive and restore a functioning ecosystem that will require minimal maintenance in the future. A perimeter trail that will allow visitors to enjoy the ponds, meadows, woods and rolling hills, is planned for the future.

While the preserve will take many years to fully return to its natural state, results are already apparent. Important grassland breeding birds, including Bobolinks, Henslow’s Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, and Dickcissels, are nesting at Orland Grassland in increasing numbers. We are also seeing native plants, many of which serve the important function of stabilizing the soil for additional species, thriving in key areas.

Tree removal will be completed by spring 2012. Phase Two also includes re-vegetation of cleared areas with a variety of native grasses and wildflowers. Prescription burns will be conducted to decrease weedy, alien plants and invigorate native plant species’ growth. The later stages of Phase 2 will be completed by Summer 2014.

This project is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the Audubon-Chicago Region, Openlands, and the Orland Grassland Volunteers.