CHICAGO (CBS) — A major protect is now under way in the Calumet Region of the Southeast Side.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was present for a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off a project that will restore more than 100 acres of wetlands by connecting Powderhorn Lake to Wolf Lake.

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“I’m also proud to announce this investment in the Southeast Side, because I know historically this part of our county – for many decades – has not received enough attention or investment,” Preckwinkle said.

Audubon Great Lakes, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Great Lakes Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration joined in the groundbreaking.

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The goal is to reestablish marsh habitat, help the wildlife that calls the area home, and reduce flooding for the people who live nearby.

Audubon Great Lakes noted that Powderhorn Lake is home to about 250 plant species, 2,500 insects, and 40 to 100 bird species depending on the season. The 50-acre freshwater lake is part of one of the few remaining examples of dune-and-swale topography that once defined the Calumet Region, but are now globally scarce.

The natural conditions of Powderhorn Lake have been altered by a century of urban and industrial development, and unusually high water levels have been causing trouble for flora and fauna for more than 10 years, Audubon said.

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The connection to Wolf Lake will help reestablish the marsh that birds such as the least bittern, common gallinule, and pied-billed grebe need to survive, Audubon said. Fish such as northern pike, yellow perch, and grass pickerel will also be able to move between the lakes.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff