Because green infrastructure is critical to the health of our streams, a watershed open space plan was created during the 2008 update to the Aux Sable Creek Watershed Management Plan.  This open space plan is an appendix to the document and is intended to guide open space preservation or integration, as opportunities arise

The open space plan was created using information already compiled through a 2005-2007 initiative called Protect Kendall Now and added information from the Grundy County area.  The Kendall portion was not changed or revisited. The project focused on completing portions of Grundy County that were not mapped.  Then the two were combined to create a watershed-wide open space/green infrastructure plan. 

The approach was the same under both efforts.  The map first combines existing information to provide a current view of the anticipated open space opportunities.  It builds from there, recognizing opportunities to enhance the open space network by identifying areas that include unprotected natural areas or logical open space connections.  It is not a zoning map.  The purpose is to identify special places and set a vision that will enable them to be treasured forever.  It does not require their protection nor mandate property owners to follow that vision.  (Note: The plan does not encourage the use of eminent domain.)  Click here to view the watershed open space plan.

Creation of the map included the following steps:

Compiling all existing planning data.

  • Local comprehensive plans (Land Resource Management Plans in the case of counties)
  • Kendall County Trails & Greenways Plan
  • municipal open space plans
  • Kendall County forest preserve district data
  • park district data 

Converting planning data into GIS.

Data were in various formats including AutoCAD, MicroStation, and ArcView.  All data were converted into a Geographic Information System (GIS).  GIS is a computerized system for entering, storing, analyzing, and displaying spatial or mapped data.  GIS is widely used as a planning tool; agencies in Kendall County either have or are planning to use GIS.  By converting the data into this system, more analysis potential is available with the data collected.

Adding existing natural areas data.

  • 100-year flood zone (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  • USGS National Hydrography Dataset (for surface water features)
  • Land cover (USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Illinois Department of Agriculture)
  • Corporation for Open Lands 2004 research on prairie remnants, fens, and wetland remnants
  • Nature Preserves (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
  • Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
  • Endangered and threatened species (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
  • Properties with significant natural resources as documented by the Kendall Natural Area Guardians (KNAGs) in 1996
  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Sections (from the Farm Service Agency)

Reclassifing data into appropriate open space categories.

Most planning entities use open space designations specific to their plan.  This Plan consolidated the various categories into three main groups:  (Note: No data provided by project partners were modified or manipulated.  Data were simply reclassified into categories used on this Plan.)

  • “Existing Open Space – Preserved & Public” are lands owned by the State, county forest preserve district (Kendall only), or municipalities/park districts.
  • “Existing Open Space – Preserved & Private” includes lands with conservation easements or nature preserves.  These are permanently protected, yet remain in private ownership.  Not all of these lands are shown on the map due to their small size or incomplete information.  Many of these areas are not available for public use.

Identifing “Additional Open Space Opportunities.”

This category identifies opportunities to link open space from the various plans and to preserve significant natural resources not identified in other plans.  These areas go beyond that which has already been identified by the County or municipalities.

Aspects that could not be considered due to lack of available digitized data include: steep slopes, hydric soils, and recharge areas.  When this information is digitally available, it can be considered when future updates are made to the watershed open space plan.


Green infrastructure - an interconnected network of green space that conserves natural ecosystem values and functions and provides associated benefits to human populations.



Green infrastructure differs from conventional approaches to open space planning because it looks at conservation values and actions in concert with land development, growth management and built infrastructure planning.  Other conservation approaches typically are undertaken in isolation from - or even in opposition to - development.

- Green Infrastructure: Smart Conservation for the 21st Century by Mark A. Benedict, Ph.D. and Edward T. McMahon, J.D.