Brunner Family Forest Preserve features woodlands and wetlands along a 3.5-mile stretch of the Fox River. Preserve amenities include a picnic shelter, water pump, information kiosk, fishing access, interpretive signs, parking lot, restrooms, and nearly 5 miles of trail to explore across 723 acres! A 12-acre fen restoration is in progress, as is a 20-acre wetland restoration and a 60-acre prairie restoration.
The Forest Preserve District of Kane County was awarded a record-breaking grant to help acquire this unparalleled property. On Nov. 4, 2008, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation awarded the District a $1,460,000 Foundation Signature Grant, the largest grant ever received by the District. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation invests in clean energy development and land preservation efforts to improve environmental quality in Illinois. Among the programs and projects that the Foundation supports are those that preserve and enhance natural areas and wildlife habitats throughout Illinois. Without the assistance of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, this property was slated to be developed into 2,000 townhomes. Now, it's public open space to be preserved in perpetuity.
The Forest Preserve District closed on the property on Oct. 1, 2008. Acquisition of it had been a 20-year goal for the District. The Brunner Family Forest Preserve is the largest waterfront piece in the District’s holdings and the largest property ever acquired from a single landowner.
The area has been deemed some of the highest quality, unprotected habitat in Kane County. Bald eagles have been observed along the riverfront, in addition to rare mussels in the Fox River and regionally rare plant and shrub species. Among priorities are bird habitats for the Willow Flycatcher, American Bittern and Sedge Wren. The District also plans brush removal to support habitats for Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies and other animals.
Located between Route 31 and the Fox River, Brunner is bordered by Buffalo Park Forest Preserve in Algonquin to the north, Fox River Shores Forest Preserve in Carpentersville on the south and east sides of the Fox River, and Raceway Woods Forest Preserve to the southwest. When combined, these forest preserves make for over 1,000 acres of contiguous open space.
In May 2013, the Forest Preserve District was awarded an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) $400,000 Open Space Land Acquisition & Development (OSLAD) grant for the initial development of Brunner Family Forest Preserve.