US Army Corps of Engineers
Chicago District Website

River Riparian


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


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.


Chicago River North Branch at River Park: removed 390 linear feet of in channel concrete and 1 grade control structure/dam, replaced 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.

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 Project Cost:


Federal Cost:


Non-Federal Cost:


*This project was funded with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds.


A 5 year base construction contract was awarded in September of 2017. The Base contract included removing the concrete channel and small dam near River Park on the North Branch of the Chicago River. The Dam and concrete channel have been completely removed and the channel replaced with natural riverine substrates of boulder, cobble, gravel and sand. A contract option has been awarded to complete site restoration and native plantings at River Park. Erosion control were completed to grade the slopes to be less steep to permit easier access to the riverbank for park visitors.  A retaining wall and stone toe was installed at point where there was insufficient space for full grading efforts Native seeding of the riverbank and adjacent uplands was completed  to create native habitat within the project area.  Remaining activities will focus on ensuring the establishment of native plant communities and controlling invasive plants. Work will be completed in fall of 2022.

Project Manager

Chuck Shea