A roughly $1.83 million plan to make it easier for the public to enjoy Dunham Forest Preserve near Wayne is moving closer to reality.
DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners next week are expected to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the village of Wayne that would allow for construction of a parking lot, picnic area, scenic overlook and trail at the preserve, which is south of Army Trail Road and west of Powis Road.
The upgrades are planned for a site off Army Trail, next to a historic train depot that the Wayne Historical Preservation Society is renovating.
On Tuesday, officials said the intergovernmental agreement must be in place before engineering can be completed.
To pay for the project, the forest preserve district several years ago set aside about $480,000. In 2014, the district received a roughly $1.35 million grant from the state-funded Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program.
The 1.25-mile limestone trail will connect Cornerstone Lakes Park in West Chicago to downtown Wayne. The overlook, meanwhile, will make it possible for visitors to view ongoing efforts to recreate prairies and wetlands at the preserve.
In 2006, the forest preserve district bought the 374-acre Dunham property for $25 million. At the time, forest preserve officials called the acquisition environmentally important because it provides a habitat for grassland birds and animals.
The district, village, historical preservation society and Wayne Area Conservancy Foundation have been working on the development of the preserve since 2007. The goal is to preserve natural resources and Wayne's cultural history "while promoting recreational development consistent with the cultural character of the community," officials said.
With the help of several partners, the district is recreating more than 200 acres of prairies and wetlands at Dunham. Returning the land to prairies and wetlands will improve ecological health and help with floodwater storage, officials say.