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Cook forest preserve district buys farmland near Orland Grassland

Maps

Updated: November 11, 2012 6:21AM



The Cook County Forest Preserve District said Tuesday it paid $8 million to buy 161 acres of farmland adjacent to Orland Park that will become part of the Orland Grassland preserve.

The property is bordered, roughly, by 179th Street on the north, 183rd Street on the south, St. Xavier University’s Orland Park campus on the east and 104th Avenue on the west.

Corn and soybeans are currently grown there, and the property could remain farmland while the county develops plans for the site, which could begin next year, said Karen Vaughn, a forest preserve district spokeswoman.

At the 960-acre Orland Grassland, north of the newly-acquired property, the district and the Army Corps of Engineers have been working on an extensive restoration project aimed at ridding the property of non-native trees and vegetation, allowing for expanded prairie, wetlands and oak woodland. That property is bordered by 167th and 179th Streets, and 104th Avenue and LaGrange Road.

Earlier this year, the burning of felled trees and other vegetation on the property was halted in response to health and fire safety concerns.

Restoration work will include the planting of native wildflowers and grasses, according to the forest preserve district. That work is expected to be done by the summer of 2014.

Vaughn said the new parcel — which the district is referring to as “Orland Grassland South” — was part of the forest preserve district’s long-range land acquisition plan, and that the district will likely undertake restoration work similar to that being done on the larger parcel to the north.

“Interest in the site had to do with its restoration potential,” she said.

The district said the land was owned by a trust and that it closed on the purchase Friday. The acquisition was financed with a recent bond issue, the district said.



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