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Northerly Island


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Authority: Great Lakes Fishery & Ecosystem Restoration (Section 506, WRDA 2000), as amended.


The Northerly Island is a 91-acre manmade peninsula found on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Ill. It is located south of the Adler Planetarium and provides protection to Burnham Harbor from Lake Michigan storms. The restoration would primarily occur on the south side of the island and encompass approximately 40 acres of land. From 1947 to 2002 the island was home to a small airport known as Meigs Field. Today, the northern end of the island is occupied by a music venue, Charter One Pavilion. Northerly Island’s unique location and vicinity within Lake Michigan provides an ecological refuge to a variety of organisms in an otherwise urban environment.  


Total project cost: $9,470,000

Federal cost: $6,160,000

Nonfederal cost: $3,310,000

Funding of this project is through U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

Project Benefits:

The addition of the new native habitat types on Northerly Island would provide a heterogeneous ecosystem that will promote species diversity. The project restored lake, and created pond, marsh, wet prairie, mesic prairie and black oak savanna habitats for resident and migratory species of insect, fish, amphibian, reptile and bird. Each habitat type provides important stop-over, nesting, and foraging opportunities to a unique suite of bird species. The pond, emergent marsh and lacustrine habitat would provide critical spawning habitat for many native game and non-game fishes. The aquatic features provide critical habitat for the state threatened banded killifish and the mudpuppy. Overall, the project greatly benefits the overall ecological integrity of the area.

Current Status:

Northerly Island was opened back up to the public in September 2015 after being closed for construction. Construction was completed in fall 2017. In the winter/spring of 2016, the Chicago Park District closed the east portion of the path due to erosion issues. The Corps' Chicago District is working with CPD on a repair plan. 

Project Manager

Kirston Buczak


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