Three adjacent parks that span the Chicago River made up the study area for River Riparian Connectivity and Habitat Restoration. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) now owns all three parks, but the Chicago Park District (CPD) leases, maintains, and manages them. The work at River Park entails removing 390 linear feet of in-channel concrete and 1 grade control structure/dam, replacing them with natural riverine substrates like boulders, cobbles, gravel, and sand, stabilizing the channel with boulder riffles, and planting native plants.
As a result, there are currently 48 miles of connected river that are open to mussels and fish. At the North Shore Channel and Legion Parks, work includes creating gentle bank slopes between 1:1 and 2:1 to 4:1, eliminating invasive and non-native trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs, adding organic compost, sand, silt, or woodchips to the soil to improve it for native plants, establishing aquatic bed wetlands along the banks, and establishing riparian savanna on the banks and parkland natural areas. Fish passage, fish habitat, migratory bird habitat, and the conversion of around 49 acres of Eurasiatic weed thickets to native Oak Savanna are all advantages of this project. The project’s completion date is October 2022, and work on it started in September of 2017.