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Rosewood Park is an 11-acre park located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Highland Park, Ill. It is located near Roger Williams Avenue and Sheridan Road in the Ravinia neighborhood. The restoration encompasses approximately seven acres that primarily occur within lower Rosewood with some restoration occurring along the perimeter of upper Rosewood.
The park was once the estate of U.S. clothier Julius Rosenwald, part owner and leader of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Around 1910, Rosenwald hired famed landscape architect Jens Jensen to design the grounds of the estate. Today, the reflecting pool, carriage bridge, and surroundings at upper Rosewood are all that remain of his work at the site. The portions of the park designed by Jensen are mainly restricted to upper Rosewood and are therefore excluded from this project footprint. Today the park is owned and operated by the Park District of Highland Park (PDHP). The park is unique in that it preserves beach, bluff, ravine, stream, and oak savanna habitat.
The project includes the following features:
Site Preparation – The first task was to install safety fencing and other safety features in order to keep the public out of the site during heavy construction. Staging areas and access roads will be demarcated.
Stream Daylighting – The 4’x7’ dual concrete box culvert located under the south side of the lower parking lot was removed and the newly-opened channel was graded and stabilized. The channel was designed to have a five-foot base with 3:1 side slopes to meet existing channel dimensions. Natural pool/riffle complexes within the mouth of the stream were created through the placement of cobble riffles. In addition, degraded weirs upstream of the culvert were removed. Restoration of stream habitat benefited native fish species such as suckers and lake chubs that live in Lake Michigan but use ravines for spawning during spring rains and freshets.
Lacustrine Restoration – Four steel groins north and the fishing pier at Rosewood Park will be removed and replaced with four nearshore rubble mound breakwaters in conjunction with beach fill. The beach system will be filled with sand including the 20 percent overfill volume in accordance with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources permit requirements. The 20 percent overfill volume assures sand is available, if needed, for unforeseen adjustment to the nearshore beach profile. The placement of lacustrine habitat is expected to benefit fishes within a 25-mile radius of the project site. Additional benefits are expected for macroinvertebrates which will colonize the interstitial spaces created within the nearshore breakwaters.
Native Plant Community Establishment – The finishing touch of the project will be to establish native plant communities over the remainder of the construction period. This task will include the removal of invasive and opportunistic woody vegetation and the planting of native species (seeds and plugs) in foredune, bluff, ravine, and savanna habitats. Follow-up will include the removal of invasive herbaceous species by spot application of herbicide over five years. In addition, a prescribed burn will be incorporated for three of the five years in bluff, ravine, and savanna habitats. Restoration of native plant communities will benefit amphibians, reptiles, and other wildlife. In particular, migratory birds will benefit through the creation of nesting and foraging opportunities.
Recreational Features – Components of recreation are not proposed under this project. The PDHP has coordinated their passive recreational feature plans which include signage and boardwalks. None of these features will impact expected ecosystem benefits.
Total project cost: $8,801,423
Federal cost: $5,720,925
Non-federal cost: $3,045,988
Funding of this project is through U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). GLRI priorities include cleaning up toxics and areas of concern, combating invasive species, promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off, restoring wetlands and other habitats, and tracking progress and working with strategic partners.
The restoration of the native habitat types within Rosewood Park will provide a heterogeneous ecosystem that will promote species diversity. The project restored lake, ravine, beach & foredune, bluff, and savanna habitats for resident and migratory species of insect, fish, amphibian, reptile, and bird. Each habitat type will provide important stop-over, nesting, and foraging opportunities to a unique suite of bird species. The lake and ravine habitat will provide critical spawning habitat for many native game and non-game fishes.
A 5-year construction contract was awarded in September 2013. Building the breakwater system in accordance with permit requirements, daylighting the stream, and installing the porous parking lot was completed in 2015. In 2016, work included removing invasive species and installing native plants. The remaining work to be done includes plant establishment and maintenance activities. Construction is anticipated to be complete in spring 2019.