Lake County Wetlands Tool

Outcomes and Conclusions

The tool is being used internally by the Commission to pursue wetland restoration site opportunities in the county. They are determining which sites will provide the most benefit from restoration or protection and will then create plans using the data from the tool. For example, the Commission used a draft of the potentially restorable wetland layer to identify a potential project location in the Des Plaines River watershed plan and was successful in obtaining section 319 (Clean Water Act) grant funding for wetland restoration at this site.

Outside of the Commission, groups in the area are using the tool for their own restoration and protection projects. One potentially restorable wetland site identified by the decision support tool has already secured wetland restoration funding through a section 319 grant. The Commission used this site as a litmus test for the potentially restorable wetland layer in the tool. Mitigation bankers can also use the tool to identify areas to restore wetlands for selling bank credits. These projects will protect and restore wetlands for nutrient transformation and other functions.

Going forward, the Commission will be conducting outreach focused on educating the general public and local governments within the county about the decision support tool and how it could support their planning and zoning efforts to identify areas that could be preserved or restored based on desired functional lift. Once more groups are using the support tool, the Commission will get feedback and update it accordingly.


The sheer amount of data collected proved to be difficult to analyze and process. It required extensive staff hours as it was not always possible to automate the processes. Additionally, the right data were not always available. Some of the functions the Commission initially considered for evaluation included invertebrate species habitat, fish and shellfish habitat, beach habitat, shrub swamp habitat, groundwater recharge, forested swamp habitat, pollination, and coastal storm surge protection. However, for some of these, the Commission did not have enough data to be used in the tool or they were of lower priority than the functions ultimately selected.

Mike Prusila, the Planning Supervisor for the Commission, gave the following advice:

"If I had to do it all over again, I would try to get more staff involved in the geographic data work. There is some bias with only one person doing it and it takes a lot of time. I would absolutely keep the field assessment as it has helped make our tool more accurate and reliable. It lets the end-users know the tool has been field calibrated and provides a level of credibility."

Project Resources

For more information about Lake County Stormwater Management Commission's wetland decision support tool, contact: 

Mike Prusila
Lake County Stormwaterwater Management Commission
Planning Supervisor