While mobilization and site prep has been in process for several weeks, this is the first week that North Pond looks different, and you can tell that work has really begun. Removal of selective dead or dying trees on the Pond’s shoreline began yesterday and will continue through the middle of next week. While tree removal work can be “shocking” to our sensibilities (mine included), these trees are rooted at the pond edge and/or are hanging over the Pond, which has created significant shoreline erosion and stability issues. Their removal allows the shoreline to be graded to soften the slope and planted with a variety of water-loving native plants and new trees. (See diagram of before/after pond edge conditions). This will increase habitat and species diversity while reducing erosion and trapping run-off once the project is completed. Removed trees will be saved and reused as habitat snags in the pond to replicate the types of shelter they provided from the shore, placed in other Chicago parks as elements of new nature-play areas, or mulched for use at the base of healthy trees in and around North Pond.
Now that the project has begun, we are seeing firsthand that restoration is an active (and sometimes—initially for sure–disruptive) process. North Pond as a natural system is out of balance and needs our help. Slope stability and resultant erosion and nutrient run-off threaten the pond’s health. The pond must also be dredged to increase water quality and habitat. The surrounding natural areas need to be expanded and diversified to promote increased biodiversity and species abundance. And the pond’s reliance on city water must be reduced so that it is a sustainable solution for the future. While the transformation will encompass the next few months, the end result this fall will be a vibrant, high-quality and sustainable natural area, home to hundreds of native species that park visitors can enjoy for generations to come. Getting there will be a process and one that will look very different while it’s happening from the North Pond we are used to seeing. Restoration is a process, and it takes time. Please stay with us as the process unfolds this summer!
We are committed to keeping our community apprised along the way. Check back next week for another post and project update. Learn more about the North Pond Restoration Project here. If you have questions or would like to discuss the project, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Doug Widener, Executive Director, Lincoln Park Conservancy