Recently, the Storm Water Solutions staff visited a wetlands restoration site on the North Side of Chicago. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recommended plan will restore the landscape of Eugene Field Park to as close to pre-settlement conditions as possible. The removal of 20,000 cu yd of fill will expose native soils and allow a more species-rich plant community to develop over time.
The banks of the site along the Chicago River will be naturalized to reconnect the floodplain and restore the native landscape of the site. In-stream complexity will be increased through channel form restoration, accomplished by placing cobble riffles and woody debris in selected locations.
Benefits of river, riparian and wetlands restoration include improvements in local water quality, lessening unnatural erosion along the banks, increasing quality habitat for migrating and resident birds, and, for this site in particular, opportunities for local schools to observe ecological activity within a heavily urbanized area.
The total project cost was $1.5 million, with $975,000 coming from federal funds. Construction was initiated in April 2011 and will be completed this fall.
Check out photos of the wetland restoration project below.