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: gentled bank slopes from 1:1 and 2:1 to 4:1, removed invasive and non-native trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs, placed soil amendments of organic compost, sand, silt, or woodchips for native plantings, established aquatic bed wetland along bank toe, established riparian savanna on banks and parkland natural areas.
Chicago River North Branch at Ronan Park: removed non-native grasses and forbs on banks, established riparian savanna on banks and parkland natural areas.
Benefits resulting from this project included fish passage, fish habitat, migratory bird habitat and restoring about 49 acres of Eurasiatic weed thickets to native Oak Savanna.
The Detailed Project Report was released for public review and comment on May 25, 2016. The public comment period ended June 26, 2016.
This Detailed Project Report presents the results of an ecosystem restoration feasibility study for the North Branch Chicago River and North Shore Channel. This Detailed Project Report presents the assessment of ecological conditions and potential plans to restore important riverine habitat for transient and migratory mussels, fishes, birds and wildlife within a modified, yet restorable riverine environment. This report gathered historic and current site conditions, and forecasts future without and future with project conditions for this reach of the Chicago River system while considering watershed attributes. This report also provides a recommended plan for restoring habitat within the study area.