Spring 2005

News of the Wild

DuPage Captures Kame

While “Special 8” may sound more like a cereal than property, a triangular 8.3-acre parcel by that name in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, is actually a remnant with a 30-foot-long kame, a rare glacial hill. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County purchased the property in December.

The kame, called Glacial Ridge, was once part of a system that sprawled hundreds of acres across the landscape. Farming and development wore much of this topography flat, but Glacial Ridge, tucked away between the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin Railway (now the Illinois Prairie Path), escaped major destruction. Illinois Prairie Path President Don Kirchenberg spearheaded the movement to save the kame. He points out that it is adjacent to an unbroken one-mile stretch of the Prairie Path that is a favorite of bike riders.

Plant specialists Marlin Bowles and Pat Armstrong confirmed the site’s ecological significance. Its lower reaches are mostly oak woodland, with oaks, aspen, and hazelnut. The top of the kame is prairie, with dry gravel soil that supports more than 100 native plants, including wild hyacinth and pale vetchling, a threatened species in Illinois.

In 2002, Gayle Homes purchased the property and proposed the construction of family homes or townhouses. While the builders maintained that construction would not harm the kame, it would have required extending Whittier Avenue across the Prairie Path. The Forest Preserve District also sought the property and filed condemnation papers against the owners. Though the owners initially sought as much as one million dollars, they settled for $375,000. The Village of Glen Ellyn may agree to manage the site.

Elizabeth Riotto