Master Plan revitalizes Oakdale Nature Preserve


September 2020 to Present



Oakdale Nature Preserve in Freeport, Illinois, is a historic gem offering more than 130 acres of forests, streams and restored prairies to visitors and locals.

The Freeport Park District hired Fehr Graham to support goals to work toward a Master Plan set in 2015 to revitalize the aging and dilapidated Nature Preserve and turn it into a place for high-quality recreation opportunities for all residents no matter their ages or abilities.

Our team worked with the Park District to evaluate the former Master Plan and bring it to fruition. We coordinated with the Park District to provide new trails, trail mapping and a series of wayfinding signage and interpretive signage. Fehr Graham worked within the Park District's budget to develop plans for a bridge on the recreation trail, path connections and improvements, nature-based play, trail signage, a shelter house to accommodate 200 people, restrooms, picnic tables, grills, site utility improvements, a 100-stall parking lot and driveways. Everything will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

Providing access to the trail bridge was difficult because of the terrain and heavy vegetation. Our team worked with the property owner and neighbor to coordinate alternative construction and minimize impact to native trees. We worked with the Stephenson County Health Department on a solution to meet the Preserve's unique wastewater demands. The septic was inadequate, so we designed a system and field to accommodate large gatherings without damaging tree roots. Fehr Graham secured a $400,000 grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD).

Fehr Graham focused on the Park District's five goals - restoring and maintaining the ecological integrity of Oakdale, achieving sustainable ecosystem health and biological diversity, reducing and eliminating unused facilities, providing educational opportunities and developing a unique venue to allow revenue to support and enhance the Preserve.

Construction is slated to begin in 2021.

» Secured OSLAD grant funding.
» Completed project design.
» Master planning.