The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District (USACE) has completed construction for the final phase of the Fort Sheridan Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) project, located at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in unincorporated Lake County, Illinois. The majority of the $9.1 million federal share was funded with Great Lakes Restoration and Initiative (GLRI) funds received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. USACE is one of 16 federal agencies that uses GLRI funds to plan, design, and construct long-lasting restoration projects in cooperation with nonfederal partners.
“The Corps of Engineers is committed to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through our programs, projects, and collaboration with partners,” said USACE Project Manager Nicole Toth. “Combining USACE Authorities with GLRI funding delivers stronger projects that demonstrate whole government coming together for one purpose.”
Phase 2 included the placement of underwater living reef structures near shore along the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve land, north and south of Cliff Road. Construction was initiated on July 30, 2020, and completed on Sept. 3, 2020. The Phase 1 portion included restoring 75 acres within four main ravines (McCormick, Hutchinson, Schenk, and Scott), 40 acres of bluff and 12 acres of dune along the coastline, and about 60 acres of riparian woodland.
In September 2019, Phase 2 was initiated via a separate contract to the Architectural Consulting Group of Chicago for the installation of living underwater reefs in Lake Michigan. These native stone and large woody debris reefs were placed nearshore along the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve land, north and south of Cliff Road. The intent of the reefs is to provide structural and hydrodynamic habitat for fishes, mudpuppy salamander, and migratory water birds by mimicking the natural reefs found on Chicago’s coastline.
The goal for the Fort Sheridan Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) project is to bring resilience and connectivity to coastal natural habitats and to restore historical native plant communities along 1.5 miles of Lake Michigan.
"Specific species of native fish anticipated to utilize the reefs include, but are not limited to, sport fishes such as smallmouth bass, rock bass, and yellow perch, along with non-game fishes such as lake chub, silver redhorse and sculpins." Frank Veraldi, Chicago District fisheries biologist, said. "The mudpuppy salamander, which is threatened in Illinois, is also anticipated to utilize the rock and wood habitats during the late fall and winter months."
The nonfederal sponsor for Phase 2 was the Lake County Forest Preserve District. GLFER projects are cost shared 65 percent federal and 35 percent nonfederal. The total project cost (Phases 1 and 2) is estimated to be $14M with a federal share of $9.1M, and nonfederal share of $4.9M.
For more information, visit the project webpage https://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works-Projects/Fort-Sheridan-IL/.