Skokie Lagoons in autumn
|Location||Cook County, Illinois|
|Basin countries||United States|
|Surface elevation||620 feet (190 m)|
Skokie Lagoons is a nature preserve in Glencoe and Winnetka, Illinois, owned and managed by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The park is bordered by Dundee Road to the north, Forestway Drive to the east, Willow Road to the south, and the Edens Expressway to the west. Within the park, there are seven inter-connected lagoons totaling 190 acres (0.77 km2). Water flows southward from the Chicago Botanic Garden through the lagoons to the Skokie River. The overall water level in the lagoons is controlled by the main control dam at Willow Road. Three low dams keep the water levels below the inner islands. Recreational opportunities at Skokie Lagoons include biking, fishing, boating and birding.
The site of Skokie Lagoons was previously a marsh, known by the Potawatomi name Chewbab Skokie ("Big Wet Prairie") or Skokie Marsh. The marsh was partially drained by local farmers, leaving a peat bog. During spring floods it became a lake that inundated adjacent property and roads. Between 1933 and 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) executed a plan to bring the waters under control. Several thousand workers moved four million yards of earth to recontour the land, creating the artificial lagoons of today. According to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, "The massive effort was the largest CCC project in the nation."
High waters erode the shoreline, filling the lagoons with sediment and damaging the fish habitat. From 1995 to 1999, the Chicago Audubon Society began a program of shoreline restoration. Thousands of plants were added to the shoreline to help limit erosion. Once it was realized that most of the plants in the southern, downstream lagoons were lost during high water, restoration efforts were concentrated on the upstream lagoons. Efforts were made to clear invasive species such as garlic mustard and buckthorn, and replace them with native plants and grasses like goldenrod, tall coreopsis, compass plant, cup plant, aster, coneflower, switchgrass, rattlesnake masters, woodland brome and cinquefoil.
In 1996, the FPDCC began a restoration program, which included the use of aquatic herbicides to improve shore fishing, dredging to remove sediment, poisoning and restocking the fish and building a boat launch south of Tower Road. The 2008 Illinois EPA assessment of the water in Skokie Lagoons listed "Fish Consumption" and "Aesthetic Quality" as "Not Supporting" due to mercury, total suspended solids, phosphorus, aquatic plants and algae.
A 1.6-mile (2.6 km) asphalt bike path runs to the west of the lagoons between Willow Road and Tower Road, and a 4.2-mile (6.8 km) loop encircles the lagoons between Tower Road and Dundee Road. This extends the 20-mile (32 km) North Branch Bicycle Trail to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
The shallow waters (depth ~10 feet) are suitable for kayaking, canoeing and rowboating.
210 species have been seen in Skokie Lagoons
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Skokie Lagoons
- "Skokie Lagoons". Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois. 2009. Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
- Morgan, Mark L.; Berhow, Mark A. (2002). Rings of Supersonic Steel: Air Defenses of the United States Army 1950-1979: an Introductory History and Site Guide (2nd ed.). San Pedro, CA: Fort MacArthur Press. ISBN 0-615-12012-1. OCLC 50869809.
- About Us - Chicago Audubon Society Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Skokie Lagoons". Chicago Area Paddling/Fishing Guide. ChicagoPaddling.org. 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
- Conditions of Illinois Water Resources - 2000: Water Quality in Illinois