I-80 Restoration Project














Join Living Lands & Waters as we continue our I-80 Restoration Project! This has been a vision of Chad Pregracke, Living Lands & Waters’ (LL&W) President and Founder, for over 20 years. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), this is the largest land restoration project in IDOT history, totaling 28 acres. The project will focus on restoring two tracks of land into a native prairie. This highly visible property is situated where Interstate 80 crosses the Mississippi River in Illinois and can be viewed from the Illinois Welcome Center, which overlooks the beautiful Mississippi River Valley.

The I-80 Restoration Project will engage hundreds of local volunteers over the course of two years to restore this area back to its native landscape. We hope it will eventually feature a very small herd of native buffalo, provide tourists with an opportunity to enjoy the Mississippi River and leave a positive impression of the State of Illinois.

View the printable flyer! 

**Due to the nature of the work, we ask that volunteers are 16+ years of age.**

How can I get involved?

The I-80 Restoration Project is looking for businesses and groups to help financially sponsor the project, and provide volunteers for teambuilding work days on the property. Specifically, volunteer groups are needed to remove invasive species and to plant native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers. Due to the scale of the project, LL&W expects to draw ample media attention, with an array of opportunities to highlight the efforts of project sponsors.

When will this project occur?

It is already in process! We kicked off with local arborists on February 24th, 2017. Groups of volunteers started coming out in April and continued work through June. We will be readdressing the project again as weather permits, with plans to start on the other side in January of 2018!

Please contact dan@livinglandsandwaters.org for more information.

What is an invasive species?

A species is invasive when it is both non-native to the ecosystem in which it is found and capable of causing environmental, economic or human harm.

Why is this project important?

Nearly 200 years ago, Illinois used to be 60% prairie. Of the nearly 22 million acres of prairie that was in Illinois in the 1820’s, only .01% is left. This decrease in prairie has resulted in habitat loss for native animals such as bison, deer, birds and many more. Restoring this parcel of land to its native landscape will provide countless benefits to the local ecosystem and raise awareness among the public of this endangered ecosystem.

In addition, this 28-acre parcel is viewed by 40,000 motorists who cross the Mississippi River every day – it is either their first or their last impression of Illinois. In March of 2016, a tornado hit a large portion of the acreage, uprooting hundreds of trees and decreasing the aesthetics of this property. The State of Illinois doesn’t have the funding, staff or resources for the project, and the cleanup work needed for this area would be unlikely to happen without our/your involvement.

Further, the Illinois Welcome Center is underutilized, having one of the lowest rates of visitors of any rest area in the state! LL&W believes that restoring this acreage to a native prairie and introducing select animals to the plot would dramatically increase the volume of visitors, creating a timeless and well-designed Welcome Center with the best view of the Mississippi River Valley.


Chad Pregracke – chad@livinglandsandwaters.org 309.496.9848

Dan Breidenstein – dan@livinglandsandwaters.org 309.236.6599