US Army Corps of Engineers
Chicago District


River Riparian


Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration, (Section 506, WRDA 2000)

Project Description:

The River Riparian Connectivity and Habitat Restoration study area consisted of three contiguous parks that straddle the Chicago River. All three parks are leased to, maintained and managed by the Chicago Park District (CPD), but are currently owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The three parks are named Ronan Park (13-acres), River Park (30-acres) and Legion Park (50-acres), encompassing over 2-miles of contiguous river. The confluence of the North Branch Chicago River and the North Shore Channel occurs at River Park, which is also the location of the River Park Dam near Foster Avenue. The parks were integrated into the Chicago Park District system between 1917 and 1934. In the 1990s, the park district began to lease additional MWRD land and upgrading the walking and bike riding trails through much of the parks lining the river. All study lands are held by CPD through 100-year leases from MWRD.

Project Features: 

Chicago River North Branch at River Park: remove 390 linear feet of in channel concrete and 1 grade control structure/dam, replace the concrete channel and concrete dam with natural riverine substrates of boulder, cobble, gravel and sand, channel stabilization with boulder riffles and native plantings, provided 48 miles of river connectivity and availability for fish and mussels.

North Shore Channel at River and Legion Parks: gentle bank slopes from 1:1 and 2:1 to 4:1, remove invasive and non-native trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs, place soil amendments of organic compost, sand, silt, or woodchips for native plantings, establish aquatic bed wetland along bank toe, and establish riparian savanna on banks and parkland natural areas.

Chicago River North Branch at Ronan Park: remove non-native grasses and forbs on banks, establish riparian savanna on banks and parkland natural areas.

Benefits resulting from this project include fish passage, fish habitat, migratory bird habitat and restoring about 49 acres of Eurasiatic weed thickets to native Oak Savanna.


Total: $15,000,000 (Note: this project was funded with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative/GLRI funds)

Federal: $10,000,000

Nonfederal: $5,000,000


Current Status:  

The Detailed Project Report was released for public review and comment on May 25, 2016. The public comment period ended June 26, 2016.

The project partnership agreement was signed in May 2017. A five-year construction contract was awarded in September 2017.