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The Lockport Legend 021617

14 | February 16, 2017 |

14 | February 16, 2017 | The Lockport Legend news Lockport Prairie preservation project wraps up ComEd in final stages of project to preserve endangered habitat Max Lapthorne, Editor ComEd is in the final weeks of a project meant to help preserve local endangered wildlife at the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve. Since Nov. 1, ComEd has been working to remove utility poles in the LPNP in an effort to lessen the impact on the habitat of the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly, as well as a number of other federally and state endangered species. The only three areas where the Hine’s emerald dragonfly can be found are the LPNP, Wisconsin and Missouri, and it was thought to be extinct in the early 1900s before resurfacing in the late 1980s. The LPNP is an especially sensitive area because it isn’t just the dragonfly itself that needs to be preserved. Voting Open February 2-28 Vote: vote and you can WIN A Vacation for 2 to CanCun! Complete at least 50 - categories and be eligible for 22nd Century Media’s Southwest Choice Awards prize—one three-night trip for two (2) adults to Riu Caribe in Cancun, Mexico, courtesy of Apple Vacations. Tell us your favorites in categories such as: Beauty ★ Health ★ Dining ★ Education ★ Fitness & Recreation ★ Pets Services ★ Shopping ★ Vehicles Look for the ballot in the center of this newspaper or vote online at starting Feb. 2. “I would say that it’s unique because this area has a critical habitat for [dragonfly],” said Sara Race, a Senior Environmental Compliance Specialist with ComEd. “Conducting normal maintenance was difficult.” This project had been in the works for many years, according to Race, and the decision to move forward with it came because ComEd estimated it would be worth the investment for both the company’s service reliability and the preservation of the habitat. The location of the lines made it difficult for workers to get to them, and as a result, ComEd had not been able to do regular maintenance on them, Race said. “It will remove a major impediment in the 320-acre preserve,” said Andrew Hawkins, director of planning and development for the Forest Preserve District of Will County. ComEd has already built a replacement line west of Route 53, so the residents in the area will continue to re- Workers look on as a helicopter assists in removing the poles from the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve. Photos submitted ceive service, as previously reported by The Legend. Workers completed the removal of the utility poles last week, which was done by airlifting them out via helicopter. In certain areas where access was difficult, workers were lowered down by helicopter to cut the poles, and then lifted back out along with the pole. Normally for this type of project, they would lay out mats and simply drive over them to get to the poles, but in this case, that was not the best option. “A lot of the area is very The project needed to be done during the winter in order to have the smallest impact on wet, so in order to not damage that habitat, [and] to the habitat. avoid any impacts it was the ald dragonfly and improve the onfly, and is why it was important Preserve, according to best way, and probably the only way, they could have gotten out without having an incidental impact on one of service ComEd can provide to the community, Race said. The Hine’s emerald dragonfly only lives in marshes to preserve the LPNP. “It’s such a sensitive area for reliability and environmental impact,” Race said. Hawkins. He hopes for the program to be started in the next year, to help preserve the habitats. these species,” Hawkins said. or meadows with dolomite There is also a $200-plus “Invasive species have As it nears its conclusion, the project has been successful in its attempt to preserve the habitat of the Hine’s emer- bedrock beneath them. The specificity of those conditions is why there are only three known habitats for the drag- million project in the works to enhance and restore the habitats in the LPNP and the nearby Prairie Bluff come in, and we want to make sure there isn’t further degradation of those critical habitats,” Hawkins said. lockport the Lockport Legend | February 16, 2017 | 15