01:00 PM - 03:30 PM
18 October 2023

Technical tour: Northerly Island Park Restoration

The 2-mile walking tour will be led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who was the lead agency for this fishery and ecosystem restoration project. Northerly Island was a 91-acre manmade peninsula dreamed up by Chicago's famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burhham, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, constructed in the 1920s adjacent to Chicago's Museum Campus and providing protection to Burnham Harbor Marina from wave action. This is the former site of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, operated Meigs Field Airport for 50 years, and then used for passive recreation for 20 years. The tour will discuss the transition of this site to an urban park consisting of natural prairie and savanna, a 5-acre pond, shoreline stabilization, and strolling paths, along with providing year-round outdoor and environmental programs through the Chicago Park District.

Prior to this project, there was a paved bicycle path that meandered throughout the park and was surrounded by a prairie-like field that provided stop-over habitat for many species of migratory birds. The field consisted of a combination of invasive species and random native plants. In addition, much of the field was mowed and had little ecologic value. Aquatic resources in the project area are limited to the surrounding Lake Michigan. The perimeter of the project area is contained by revetment walls that provide a limited ecosystem with very few macrophytes and habitat niches for aquatic organisms to thrive. Overall, the southern portion of Northerly Island is providing limited ecosystem benefits and lowering the ecological integrity of the surrounding area. The project created 40 acres of coastal habitat.

These 40 acres of coastal habitat in southern Lake Michigan include 18 acres of oak savanna, 10 acres of mesic prairie, 3.3 acres of wet prairie, 2.2 acres of emergent marsh, 4.1 acres of pond, and 1.7 acres of lacustrine littoral habitat. The project greatly benefits habitat for a variety of migratory and resident bird species, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and mammals. Specifically, the state threatened banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanous) and mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) may benefit from this project. The mandatory operation and maintenance of this project by the Chicago Park District will ensure permanent long term sustainable benefits to these resources.

Please wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes. This tour will depart from the Hilton Chicago via mini bus, but you will be walking 2 miles once on site.

This ticket must be purchased in addition to full registration.

EB: $60 | ADV: $70 | ONS:  $80