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Collaboration Initiates Work to Restore Marshland in Powderhorn Lake Near Indiana/Illinois Border

aerial view of Powderhorn Lake
An aerial view of Powderhorn Lake and marsh. (Photo credit: Great Lakes Audobon)

The Powderhorn Lake wetland restoration has begun with the goal of restoring 100 acres of wetland habitat by connecting the lake to Wolf Lake and ultimately Lake Michigan. The restoration project, a collaboration among Audubon Great Lakes, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Great Lakes Commission and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will reestablish marsh habitat and reduce flooding for nearby residences by installing a water control structure that will adjust the water level. The project is supported by the GLRI.

Powderhorn Lake is located in Illinois near the Indiana/Illinois border and is part of the Cook County Forest Preserves. It was built in natural wetlands in the 1950s primarily for fishing. As a result of heavy rains, and urban and industrial development, the lake has suffered from high water levels which drown native plants and fish nursery habitat. With the construction of a water control structure, the project aims to drain water from the lake, creating periods of lower water levels. The changing water levels would recreate the natural rise and fall that’s been missing and allow for native marsh plants to regain a foothold, with the return of marsh birds following. 

Powderhorn Lake is surrounded by rare dune and swale habitat - sandy ridges interspersed with water pockets. The area is home to 100 bird species, 250 plant species and 2,500 insects. The return of the shallow marsh can provide important nursery habitat as fish lay their eggs in the marsh. As a result, small fish will have the roots they need to swim, hide, and protect themselves. 

Populations of birds and fish will be monitored to see if the restoration is providing intended benefits.

CCFP press release: Audubon Great Lakes, Forest Preserves Break Ground on Major Habitat Restoration Project at Powderhorn Lake to Restore 100 Acres of Wetlands