As the North Pond restoration moves toward completion, you will see some new features added around and near the pond. Of prime interest to us human visitors, we’ve begun to install a series of limestone outcroppings along the shoreline that will provide a variety of vantage points and overlooks to enjoy the pond and all its wonder. The first such outcropping was installed this week on the northeast side and is already popular with geese and ducks. We’re sure it will be just as popular with human visitors soon. Additional outcroppings will be installed next week through mid-September.
While North Pond is a favorite respite of nature for human visitors, it also provides critical habitat for hundreds of birds and a variety of native plants and animals, including over a dozen Illinois threatened or endangered species. To balance human access versus natural area habitat, we will install permanent fencing around certain portions of the pond to provide protection from human activity. Some additional temporary fencing will also be installed to protect new plant plugs and trees in the coming weeks. This fencing will be removed gradually as plants stabilize and flourish.
Speaking of new plants, our first batch of new native plant plugs is slated for planting next week, with additional waves of plug and tree planting planned through the end of September. To round out the recent work around the pond, the north lawn has been seeded and shoots of grass are already beginning to emerge through the straw blanket. We are still on track to reopen this much-used part of the park later in September. The new water outlet on the north end is also complete and is already adding additional water to the pond as we slowly refill it to the desired level. Cement was removed around the historic gazebo with grass to be planted next week. A new drinking fountain will also be installed in this area. Finally, a new path connecting the service drive behind North Pond Restaurant to the Sunshine Playscape path was installed, including two new light poles to improve night-time visibility for park users. We know this area is the terminus of many sledding runs during the winter; we don’t anticipate any issues but plan to install foam and fencing around these lights during sledding season to add a layer of protection.
Stay tuned to next week’s blog for more updates as well as an overview of the many sustainable elements of the North Pond Restoration Project. To learn more about the North Pond Restoration Project, visit our project page. Stay up-to-date on current work via our weekly blog series.