• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation

Project implementation began in 2015 and is being monitored for flooding and tree growth and survival. 

Hazel Crest is working to develop a method of minimizing flooding time in water retention areas while storing as much water as possible. It is also developing a catalog of trees and shrubs that will withstand periodic flooding in the South Chicagoland urban environment.

Project Area

The Village of Hazel Crest is a suburban community of approximately 14,000 residents located south of the City of Chicago. The North and South Sections of the Hazel Crest Open Lands were laid out in about 1950 for a housing development; however, housing development never took off and new laws regarding flood prone areas further prevented development. The Village acquired the Open Lands in the 1980s and 1990s

Management Goals


Key management goals for this area were to:

1. Reduce ponding

2. Provide recreation opportunities to local residents

3. Increase tree canopy diversity 

Climate Change Impacts

Urban trees are already under stress from local pollution, impervious surfaces, and urban heat island effects. Changes in climate are likely to exacerbate these stressors. Among the key impacts to the Chicago region are:
Increases in temperature that will be higher than the surrounding region due to the urban heat island effect. Higher temperatures may make it more difficult for some tree species to survive or thrive because of direct heat stress and indirect effects of i
More heavy rain events that could lead to increased flood frequency and severity. The high amount of impervious surface can lead to concentrated flooding in some areas due to stormwater runoff.
Dry periods later in the growing season with low soil moisture. This can be exacerbated by the lack of soil infiltration due to high runoff.

Challenges and Opportunities


The Hazel Crest Open Lands are in low elevation areas that capture considerable stormwater, and thus are expected to experience more flooding in the next century
As temperatures rise, the trees in the Open Lands provide an important role in reducing local heat islands by providing shade and evaporative cooling, but may be threatened by severe temperature increases, dry periods, or severe floods


In addition to engineered structures, trees in the open lands can provide an important role in flood mitigation

Adaptation Actions

The Village of Hazel Crest has been working with the Morton Arboretum and other partners to develop solutions to adapt to anticipated changes. The Village is installing French drains to reduce ponding and increase soil infiltration. It is also planting trees to control stormwater.  The Village is developing a catalog of trees and shrubs that will grow well in South Chicagoland floodplains now and in the future.

plant trees native to southern Illinois such as baldcypress and Schumard oak
Plant a variety of species including Schumard, swamp white, black, bur, and white oaks, Marmo maple, Persian parotta, wireless zacova, pear, butternut, bitternut hickory, sassafrass, giant sequoia, and blue ash.


The area is being monitored for ponding, species growth, and survival.

Learn More


Water resources

Last Updated