Environmental Stewardship

Fostering an environmentally-conscious staff and community

Stormwater Management + Ecological Restoration: For many years, the lake at Heritage Park was strictly a storm-water detention facility for the Village of Wheeling. The shallow depth and lack of accessible pathways limited the possibility for recreational opportunities. Without proper grading and native plantings to stabilize the lake edge, erosion occurred. All of that changed with the renovation of Heritage Park in 2012. Naturalized landscaping added around Lake Heritage proved to be a major success in the Park District’s commitment to environmental stewardship. With a planting strategy that includes submerged and partially submerged plants at the water’s edge backed up by native prairie grasses, the lake has become an outstanding recreational feature of Heritage Park. With the help of the Park District’s team of environmental consultants, the established plantings have become a colorful habitat for a variety of wildlife that include insects, amphibians and birds. A continuous pathway loops the lake with features such as lake overlooks and council rings that allow for beautiful views and quiet contemplation.

Currently, the Park District is working with an aquatic consultant to ensure that the water quality of the lake remains optimal and that algae outbreaks and aquatic weeds are addressed consistently. Effectively managing this model of ecological restoration will lead to more recreational opportunities in the future.

Environment Action Plan

The Wheeling Park District Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted the Park District Environmental Action Plan. As a public agency dedicated to parks, recreation and open space, the Park District is in a unique position to take a leadership role across a wide spectrum of environmental practices to help ensure their communities have the tools to learn sustainability and be sustainable. Through policies, plans and actions, Wheeling Park District leads by example. This plan provides an important overview of best environmental management practices that can be beneficial to residents and the community, now and in the future.

The Environmental Policy and Environmental Action Plan provide the important direction, while the District’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan outlines the initiatives and goals. Together, with tools available through industry leaders such as the Illinois Parks & Recreation AssociationNational Recreation and Park Association and American Association of Landscape Architects, the Park District’s plan takes a systematic approach, analyzing current practices, providing recommendations and a strategy for achievement. The Environmental Action Plan is a valuable resource for the Board of Commissioners and staff for making sound environmental management decisions.

To view the Wheeling Park District Environmental Action Plan, click on the link below.

Wheeling Park District Environmental Action Plan

Environmental Report Card

The Environmental Report Card is a self-evaluative tool to help park and recreation agencies across Illinois assess their environmental impact and stewardship.

Wheeling Park District Results


With a Board adopted Environmental Policy, Environmental Action Plan, Environmental Committee and Environmental Strategic Initiative, the Park District is doing an excellent job towards sustainability.

Administration and Finance:

By dedicating funds in its annual operating budget and capital funds to support environmental initiative, the Park District shows a commitment towards environmental leadership.

Facility Management and Maintenance:

The Park District does an excellent job of recycling and energy efficiency particularly when constructing/remodeling/ renovating parks and facilities. Similarly, the same approach is taken when building improvements are made.

Fleet Maintenance:

This score appears to be low because of the high score weight given to the use of alternative fuel and/or hybrid vehicles. However, the Park District does receive high marks for following regularly scheduled maintenance on all vehicles.

Parks and Natural Resource Management

In this section, the District receives high marks for dedicating funds towards Best Management Practices (BMP). With the plans in places for BMPs for the natural areas and the lake at Heritage Park, as well as the Chamber Park rain garden, the Park District is doing an excellent job in this area.

Planning and Open Space Preservation:

Similar to Parks and Natural Resources Management, this section receives high marks for BMPs. The Park District also achieves high marks for the increased awareness of natural/preserved areas through dedicated pages in the Program & Events Guide and In The Know resident newsletter as well as interpretive signage at the Chamber Park rain garden.


This category is rated low primarily because the Park District does not have a nature center or regular nature education programs in the parks. However, the natural areas in Heritage Park provide an outstanding education opportunity that continues to draw public interest.

Additional Resources