Happy Friday! This blog marks our last weekly update for the North Pond Restoration Project for the season. Debuting next week and the first Friday of every month through next winter will be a monthly project update. While there is still work happening at the pond through November, the pace of work is slowing for the remainder of the year and into early 2023 so we will pare back our blogs accordingly. Once spring comes, we will have a lot to report as we plant nearly 70 new trees, hundreds of new native plants and shrubs and begin our important and ongoing work post-restoration: the ongoing care and stewardship of the North Pond Nature Sanctuary. More on that important work in a second.
First, a huge THANK YOU! North Pond is a vital habitat and refuge in our great city. When we launched the Campaign for North Pond, we laid out our big and bold three-year plan for restoring North Pond and ensuring its health and vitality for generations to come. Thanks to over 550 individuals and families who contributed over $7.3 million, that plan is on the cusp of being realized. We couldn’t have done it without the generous support of these donors and the hundreds of other supporters who attended public meetings, volunteered with us in stewarding the Pond and its surroundings, and shared their love of North Pond and the importance of the restoration with park visitors. We also want to acknowledge the many persons who have shared their thoughts, both positive and constructively critical, throughout the process. For all of this we say a humble and huge: THANK YOU! The pond is for all Chicagoans and together we made its sustainable future a reality. Thank you!
While we have a lot to celebrate, the real work is just beginning. As the long-term stewards of North Pond, the Lincoln Park Conservancy will work tirelessly to help our partners at the Chicago Park District maintain, monitor, and manage the site going forward. We couldn’t do that important work without our dedicated volunteer stewards. Since the mid-1990s when the first significant effort to restore North Pond was undertaken, concerned and empowered members of our community stepped up to prioritize North Pond’s restoration and make it possible. Beginning in the late 1990s, the North Pond Task Force and its committed volunteer leaders, working in conjunction with the Chicago Academy of Sciences, Friends of the Parks, and the Chicago Park District, sparked a journey twenty-plus years in the making, resulting in many of the existing natural areas we currently enjoy around the pond. These groups also worked hard to get the pond officially designated as a natural area by the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago. From these efforts, our North Pond Gardeners stewardship program began and continues today, working every other Saturday from early spring to late fall (and even during the winter) to help the Conservancy help North Pond.
As we put the final touches on the main phase of the current restoration, we thank these early pioneers and ongoing champions of North Pond. Without your vision, dedication, and leadership, North Pond wouldn’t be the special place that it is to so many today, nor the vital habitat it has become for native species. As we move to ongoing management and maintenance of the pond, we will need even more people to share their time and talent to help us in our important stewardship work.
The journey begins now. Our final volunteer stewardship workday for our North Pond Gardeners is next Saturday, November 5. We hope you will join us. If you would like to learn more about the program and how to participate next spring, you can sign up for our mailing list here. Or, if you are interested in bringing a group for a special workday at North Pond, check out more information here. A hallmark of the work of the Lincoln Park Conservancy is that we invest long-term in the sites we support. Restoring North Pond is just a part of a much longer journey and one that we couldn’t undertake without you, our loyal volunteers, and donors. Thank you for all you have done to help us help North Pond. And thank you for all you will do to ensure its health and vibrancy for this and countless generations to come!
PS: Mark your calendars for Earth Day 2023, when we plan to celebrate the official completion of this phase of the North Pond Nature Sanctuary Restoration and all of the amazing people who made it possible!