Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration, (Section 506, WRDA 2000), as amended.
The project is part of the northeastern Illinois coastline of Lake Michigan; bounded by Lake Michigan to the east and Sheridan Road to the west. The southern limits include the Schenck Ravine watershed, while the northern limits include the McCormick Ravine watershed. The restoration project is located east of Sheridan Road within the City of Lake Forest, Town of Ft. Sheridan and City of Highland Park, and unincorporated Lake County, Illinois.
The Fort Sheridan Ravine and Coastal Section 506 Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) project restored 207 acres of four main ravines (McCormick, Hutchinson, Schenk, and Scott), bluff, dunes, lacustrine habitat and riparian woodlands. The goal was to bring resilience and connectivity to coastal natural habitats and restore historical native plant communities along 2.75 miles of Lake Michigan. The 5-year construction contract for Phase 1 was completed in November of 2020, in partnership with the following nonfederal entities: Lake County Forest Preserve District, Openlands, City of Lake Forest, and Lake Forest Open Lands Association.
In September 2019, Phase 2 was initiated by issuing a separate contract to the Architectural Consulting Group of Chicago for the installation of underwater reefs in Lake Michigan. These native stone and large woody debris reefs were placed nearshore along the Lake County Forest Preserve District land north and south of Cliff Road. The intent of the reefs was to provide structural and hydrodynamic lacustrine habitat for fishes, mudpuppy salamander, and migratory water birds by mimicking the natural reefs found on Chicago’s coastline. Initial construction for the reefs was completed in September of 2020. The nonfederal sponsor for Phase 2 is the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
Ravine Stream habitat restoration via dam removal, riffle and pool reestablishment, amphibian and reptile stone cascade structures, promotion of natural riverine sediment transport and substrate sorting, and native plantings. Ravine plant community restoration via invasive plant species eradication, reestablishing native canopy cover and structure, and planting native seeds and plugs of local ravine genetic ecotypes. Coastal Bluff restoration via invasive plant species eradication, planting native seeds and plugs of local bluff genetic ecotypes. Dune and beach restoration via eradication of invasive plant species and planting native seeds and plugs of local genetic ecotypes. Lake littoral zone restoration via fish and mudpuppy habitat structures created out of indicative Niagara Escarpment dolomitic limestone slabs, glacial boulders and cobble and large woody debris. These structures were designed to provide structural and hydraulic habitat for fishes and the state-threatened mudpuppy, while inducing sand bar and lake bed non-conformities and substrate sorting to further diversify littoral zone habitats. This project will benefit rare and endangered ravine and coastal plant and animal species, taking care not to disrupt high-quality habitat patches already existing within the study area. This habitat project was designed to provide habitat structure, utilizing natural processes to ensure sustainability, and where natural processes are no longer functional, mimicking these situations with indicative native materials and geospatial positioning.
GLFER projects are cost shared 65 percent federal and 35 percent nonfederal. The total project cost is estimated to be $14M with a federal share of $9.1M and nonfederal share of $4.9M. The majority of the federal share was funded with Great Lakes Restoration and Initiative (GLRI) funds received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The feasibility study was initiated in 2009. The draft feasibility report and environmental assessment went out for the 30-day agency and public review on Nov. 12, 2014. The feasibility study was approved in January 2015. Design was completed in August 2015. A five-year construction contract was awarded in September 2015 to John Keno and Company Inc. for almost $7.4M. Construction is anticipated to be complete in fall 2020. A separate contract to install underwater reefs off shore of Lake County Forest Preserve District land north and south of Cliff Road was awarded in September 2019. Construction of Phase 2 was completed on September 3rd, 2020.