Keep working to transform the South Fork of the Chicago River

When it comes to protecting the city’s waterways, the Chicago River has been neglected compared to Lake Michigan.

But we know better now, fortunately. Today, the Main Branch has the spectacular Riverwalk, and access to the North Naturalist Branch has improved.

So it’s another good sign to see $1 million in new federal funding dedicated to habitat restoration along the oft-neglected South Fork, especially its famous Bubbly Creek.

Located on the South Branch of the Branch beginning near 38th and Racine, the waterway earned its nickname because gases from tons of rotting animal carcasses dumped by the nearby Union Stockyards – which closed in 1971 – bubbled to the surface for decades.

“For more than 100 years, this area has been a dumping ground for animal waste, industrial waste and sewage from adjacent Union Stockyards and related industries,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who has secured the funding, in an announcement. last month.

“The $1 million funding I secured is an important step in restoring the South Fork of the Chicago River, and I will continue to work with federal and non-federal partners to make Bubbly Creek safer and more sustainable. for generations to come,” he said.

“Healthy and Prosperous Waterway”

As part of this effort, the Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Park District and community organizations will work together to restore native prairie plantings and wetlands.

Green space and wildlife habitat would increase along this area of ​​the river, according to the Durbin office. Better natural retention of rainwater and flood retention are also part of the project objectives.

“The importance of healthy and thriving waterways cannot be underestimated, as they play a contributory role in our physical health, mental and emotional well-being, the state of our economy and our individual connection with nature” , said Bridget, CEO of Shedd Aquarium. Coughlin.

The funding will help researchers track fish populations and improve areas where fish breed.

Here’s another bonus: a portion of the grant will be used to employ and teach community members about river conservation.

The program joins other efforts and advocacy work, including the Friends of the Chicago River’s South Branch Corridor project, which envisions more open space, boat ramps and other amenities along the waterway.

Defenders have long considered the Chicago River to be the city’s second lakefront. We’re not there yet, but efforts like these will help our city get there.

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