West Branch Hydraulic Improvements and Restoration Project – DuPage County Stormwater Management
The West Branch Hydraulic Improvements and Restoration Project involved the construction and improvement of nine cobble riffles and modification of the McDowell Grove Dam throughout a 1.8 mile stretch of the West Branch of the DuPage River. The project involved work on property owned by the County of DuPage and also within the McDowell Grove Forest Preserve. In addition to the riffle construction and improvements, 3 backwater/floodplain wetlands were constructed along a 3,500 foot section of the river owned by DuPage County. The goal of the project was to improve riverine habitat and raise the profile of the river in the reach to more frequently flood the lower floodplain and thus improve floodplain function and habitat. The project involved over 75,000 CY of excavation and earthwork and 9,000 Tons of glacial cobble and boulder placement. In addition to the heavy construction activities, the project also included significant restoration plantings and invasive species removal along the floodplain. Plantings included approximately 50,000 native herbaceous plugs, 500 native trees and shrubs, and six acres of native seeding. Diverse mixes of wet meadow, sedge meadow, mesic prairie, shady floodplain, and mesic savanna communities were seeded throughout the project based on site conditions.
EarthWerks, Corp. was the prime contractor on the West Branch project and performed all earthwork and heavy construction activities, with ENCAP, Inc. subcontracted to perform all restoration, native plantings, and ecological maintenance work. The project started in late summer of 2013 and completed in July of 2014 with all construction and installation activities. The heavy construction was performed utilizing a long reach tracked excavator, one mid-sized excavator, a wide tracked dozer, a tracked haul truck, and two tracked skid steers. All construction was performed in the wet including floodplain shaping, grading, and riffle construction. Seeding and placement of 100% biodegradable erosion control blanket was completed immediately upon final grading to protect from erosion and begin establishment of the native plantings. Tree and shrub planting was also completed upon final grading in the Fall of 2013 and Spring of 2014. All live herbaceous plugs were installed in May-June of 2014. Maintenance and stewardship activities are on-going and will be continuing through 2018 by ENCAP, Inc.
Warrenville Grove Dam Modification Project – DuPage County Stormwater Management
The Warrenville Grove Dam Modification Project involved the removal of a low head dam on the West Branch of the DuPage River at the McDowell Grove Forest Preserve and modification of the structure into a riffle and pool complex which was completed in 2011. The project also included the restoration of 13 acres of floodplain in the formerly impounded area upstream of the dam structure and planting of trees and shrubs as well as invasive species removal throughout the river corridor. The project was performed by EarthWerks, Corp. with restoration activities subcontracted to ENCAP, Inc. The dam modification included demolishing the existing limestone block dam and converting the dam location to a riffle and pool complex which would restore natural river hydrology and also allow fish passage in this reach of the river where previously there had not been.
The dam modification and riffle construction included approximately 7,500 tons of sand, glacial cobble, and boulders which were placed to create a gentle 20:1 back slope from the riffle crest. All work was performed in the wet including demolition and riffle construction along with minor bank grading in the areas immediately upstream and downstream of the riffle. The work was performed utilizing a combination of a long reach wide tracked, low ground compression excavator, as well as two other mid-size excavators, and two tracked skid steers.
The impounded pool above the dam was allowed to draw down and the channel to shape itself within the historic floodplain. No grading of a new channel or rock or stone toe was placed to define the stream channel, which therefore allowed the stream channel to migrate within the newly opened and restored floodplain. The removal of the dam and restoration of the natural river hydrology also created backwater wetlands and pools in the former impoundment adjacent to severalpre-existing islands which were above the dam. The new river banks and floodplains were seeded with diverse sedge meadow communities, marsh species, and wet to mesic prairie. In addition, over 45,000 native plant plugs and 1,000 trees and shrubs were planted in the floodplain and wetland areas above the former dam. The project was then maintained and managed by ENCAP, Inc. for 3 years for invasive species control. The area has survived many large flood events without damage to the riffle structure or loss of the native floodplain plantings.
Sybaquay Girls Scout Camp – Wetland Restoration and Buffer Enhancement
This project includes 53 acres of restoration and enhancement at the Sybaquay Girl Scout Camp outside of Harvard, IL in the Kishwaukee River Watershed. The project consisted of existing wet woodland and sedge meadow communities that had been drained through agricultural field tile and were surrounded by degraded old field upland areas and overrun with Common Buckthorn, Reed Canary Crass, and Thistle species. Project goals included restoring natural hydrologic conditions to the site, reintroducing a diverse native seed and plug mix to the site, and removal of invasive species.
After the planning and development phase, initial restoration activities began in the late Fall/Winter 2005/2006 with woody invasive species removal and disruption and abandonment of the agricultural field tile on the site. The extensive buckthorn, box elder, and other invasive and undesirable woody species were controlled through hand clearing using brush cutters and chain saws with aquatic approved herbicide applied to the fresh cut stumps of the cleared woody species. Some larger black cherry, box elder, and cottonwood species were girdled with herbicide application to the cut girdle. The herbicide used was a Triclopyr based herbicide which was painted on each cut stump. In the first year of restoration activities, the site was seeded using a combination of drill seeding and hand broadcast seeding in areas where equipment access was difficult or impractical. A John Deere 4350 tractor and Truax Drill were used to seed the site in those areas that were mechanically drill seeded. Herbaceous plant plugs were also installed in the first year of restoration activities throughout the site as wetter hydrologic conditions became more prevalent with the abandonment of the field tile.
The predominant invasive species which necessitated the most aggressive treatment included extensive Reed Canary Grass, various Thistle species, Wild Parsnip, Sweet Clover, and Buckthorn. These species were aggressively treated with backpack sprayers using an aquatic approved glyphosate or Triclopyr based herbicide depending on species to be controlled. Other annual and biennial weeds such as wild carrot and ragweed species were cut prior to setting seed using weed eaters or were spot mowed with a tractor mounted rotary mower. Resprouts and new seedlings of invasive woody species such as cottonwood, buckthorn, and willow were cut and stump herbicided in the dormant seasons of 2006-2007.
Prescribed fire was introduced to the site 3 years after initial planting to reduce thatch, invasive species coverage, and promote native germination and development. The site has been under continued monitoring and maintenance by ENCAP, Inc. since its initial planting in 2006, and is under contract for stewardship through 2015. The site has seen redevelopment of diverse emergent wetland, sedge meadow, wet-prairie, wet-mesic prairie, and dry prairie habitats and has been successful in achieving the project goals of restoring and developing a diverse wetland complex to the property.
Orland Tract Perimeter 506 Ecological Restoration
The goals of this 250 acre restoration project were to increase savannah woodland edge habitat through the thinning/clear cutting of extensive low quality woodland areas, dormant planting of local native seed, herbaceous plug planting, and intensive invasive species control measures. The end result was to be a mix of savannah, short shrub, dense shrub and open space populated with native species.
Initial clearing started in December2011 by removing large areas of degraded woods and continued through fall of the 2012. This was accomplished using fellerbunchers, fecon mowers, and hauling equipment. The mountains of trees and shrubs that were removed were either chipped and hauled off site or burned in brush piles throughout the site.
Initial herbicide treatments and plugging began spring of 2012, installing over 8,000 plugs and treating the entire 250 acres for invasive species. Plug planning locations were specifically chosen to match the species being installed. Invasive species treated include Reed canary grass,sweetclover, thistle, purple loosestrife, birdfoot trefoil, cattails, phragmites, buckthorn, honeysuckle, black locust, and multiflora rose. Many native woody species were also treated in designated areas to create open pockets mixed in throughout the site. No broadcast methods were used during the invasive treatments. Wicking packs were used to treat cattails and phragmites. Backpack sprayers were used to treat remaining species using Element 3A, Aquaneat, Crossbow, and Milestone as needed, to selectively treat the invasive species populations while protecting the establishing native community. All treatments were timed in conjunction with the seasonal and flowering morphology of the target species as well as with other management practices such as mowing and mechanical removals to optimize the effectiveness of the treatments, reduce the likelihood of invasive reproduction, and to protect native communities.
In the winter of the 2013, 1500lbs of conservative native seed, primarily forbs, was broadcast over the 200 acre planting area during dormant conditions in three planting zones: Marsh, Wet Shrubland, and MesicShrubland. Seed was distributed using truax broadcast seeders and native seed drills which were modified to broadcast rather than plant in furrows. Areas too sensitive for tractor use and seeds too large to be run through a mechanized seeder were selectively hand broadcast.
Herbicide treatments to invasives continued through the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons resulting in invasive species coverage less that 3% by the end of the third year. Native plant cover was greatly increased throughout the site achieving the goals of the project. Mowing was used in specific areas to reduce the height of native shrub species to increase diversity in the woody cover of the project. The site is currently inhabited by many species of plants and wildlife endemic to a mixed shrubland and oak savannah habitat.
Lawndale Creek Restoration – Village of Algonquin
This project involved the restoration of approximately 500 linear feet of streambank and riparian area along Lawndale Creek, a tributary of the Fox River in Algonquin, IL. This highly incised stream was located within a developed and urbanized area on the near west side of Algonquin. The stream had become severely eroded, incised and overgrown with woody invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, and box elder. The design for the project included clearing, removing, and herbiciding all woody invasive species, construction of boulder and cobble riffles, and stream bank grading and sloping to reconnect the stream to its associated and historic floodplain. The construction, grading, seeding, erosion control blanketing and native plug planting work was performed in the Summer of 2012 between May 30th and June 11th. The project was constructed from downstream to upstream utilizing low ground compression tracked skid steers and small tracked excavators. The work was performed utilizing low flow conditions. As a condition of the USACE permit and Soil and Water Conservation District requirements, flow was intentionally blocked at the upstream limit of the project during work hours to reduce sediment impact to downstream water resources. The excavated materials were spread outside the floodplain and seeded. This work also included planting of native trees and shrubs along the riparian corridor in the Fall of 2012. The site has been under management for invasive species by ENCAP, Inc. since that date.
Calumet Prairie/ Ivanhoe South
Calumet Prairie is 166 ac dune swale wetland that is home to many high quality, threatened and endangered species. Ivanhoe south is 35 acres of Dune Oak Savannah and Swale wetland harboring many high quality native species. This contract included several phases: large scale tree and shrub removal, initial invasive species removal, introduction of prescribed burning, and long term establishment.
Large scale tree and shrub removal could only be done in the winter. Given the extremely wet nature of the site, work was only allowed on certain days to prevent soil disturbance.Fellerbunchers, skid loaders andtracked hauler low psi equipment were used for clearing activities as well as chainsaws. All designated trees and shrubs through the 100 acre removal areas were removed ranging from less than 1” to 48” DBH. Brush was burned on site while large logs were hauled off site for disposal. All stumps were treated with triclopyr based herbicide;Element 3a where wet and Tahoe 4e in uplands.
Initial invasive species removal was conducted entirely with backpack sprayers and backpack wicks. The site included large areas of Reed Canary, Cattails, Phragmites, non-native Thistle, Purple loosestrife, woody resprouts, garlic mustard, and sweetclover. Invasive patches were treated with a combination of broadcast, spot and wick applications depending on the proximity of high quality species. Each patch was evaluated and treated with the method that would preserve the most native species. Selective herbicides were used to reduce damage to native species wherever possible. Primaryherbicides used were Element 3A, Aquaneat, Milestone, and Poast.
Each site was to be burned in phases to prevent loss of pollinators and endangered amphibians present on site. Encap prepared a burn plan that included the division of burn areas for each site, which units were to be burned in spring and fall, and appropriate safety measures needed for the burns. Scheduled burns were executed successfully. Wind direction was the greatest factor given the sites are in urban areas and are in close proximity to interstate highways. All burn breaks and burn operations were done with hand equipment such as weedeaters, leaf blowers, backpack sprayers, drip torches, and flappers. No mechanical equipment was used in the project area.
Long term establishment is an ongoing task. As new invasive species colonize areas that have been opened up due to previous invasive removal or shade reduction, they are identified and treated using backpack, spot, or wick applications to remove the invasives while preserving any of the natives beginning to re-colonize the same areas. The same herbicides were used as in the initial treatments.
All areas currently meet performance standards and the project is exhibiting success towards its goals.
Braidwood Dunes – Weed Control at Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve
Forest Preserve District of Will County
Braidwood Dunes is a 250 acre forest preserve in Will County undergoing extensive management and restoration activities. Previous to the contract Encap worked, large areas of wetlands were cleared of low quality woodlands dominated by cottonwood and silvermaple leaving only the oak woods and oak savannah interspersed through a prairie and wetland complex. Now that the primary woody species has been removed, the goal was to tackle the herbaceous weeds and treat woody resprouts and seedlings to allow establishment by the high quality species already present throughout the site.Much of the cleared areas and some disturbed and degraded areas were overrun with populations of reed canary grass, Kentucky bluegrass, thistles and invasive woody species. The contract was broken into 12 areas of focus. Aspen, non-native trees and shrubs, cool season grasses, crown vetch, broom sedge, Reed Canary, Phragmites, Garlic Mustard, Sweetclover, Cattails, Thistles, and Variety weed control.
As a one year contract our first step was to prioritize the invasives according to the growing season to take opportunity of the seasonal windows and ensure they were treated before flowering. Second was to determine which tasks could be accomplished simultaneously. Cool season grasses, Reed canary and garlic mustard were the first to be treated as they begin growing early in the season. The grasses were treated with glyphosate and clethodim before the warm season grasses began growing. The garlic mustard was treated with a combination of Element 3A and handpulling to remove populations before flowering. Crown vetch, sweetclover, thistle and variety weed control were treated next using backpack sprayers and Element 3A. As these treatments occurred, any resproutingnonnativetrees (primarily glossy buckthorn and honeysuckle) and aspens that could be sprayed without excessive damage to the surrounding vegetation were treated as well.Cattails, Phragmites and Broom sedge were treated with glyphosate mid summer when at full growth height using a combination of backpack spraying and backpack wicking.As the season began to cool, the larger Aspen and non-native trees and shrubs were treated with Element 4E using a combination basal bark application and wicking packs.
The combination of timing and application techniques provided a highly successful treatment for all species with little damage to the existing native community. All of the contract goals were met.
Sycamore Park District – Old Mill Park, Sycamore, IL
The Sycamore Park District converted a large portion of their park to native prairie area for Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for the local watershed. The prairie areas allow for improved groundwater recharge, sediment filtration, and pollutant assimilation, while allowing park users the chance to interact with a native prairie plant community. ENCAP, Inc. was contracted to monitor and maintain the site following the initial installation. The site has since been qualified as a high quality native prairie area (see below).
Rochelle Boy Scout Camp Wetland Mitigation Project
The Rochelle Boy Scout Camp Mitigation Wetland is located within Rochelle, DeKalb County, Illinois. Wetland mitigation was required to replace wetland acreage filled by the expansion of the Boy Scout Camp. The primary objective of the monitoring program was to track the success of wetland development over the five year period of regularly scheduled monitoring sessions. ENCAP, Inc. monitored and managed the site from 2010-2014, with sign-off achieved from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fall of 2014. Today the site consists of high quality prairie and wetland areas, as shown in the photo below.
Naturalized Stormwater Detention Basin
This project was planted by ENCAP, Inc. in the spring of 2005. Careful management of non-native species was performed throughout 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 in an effort to increase native plant growth. In fall of 2008, ENCAP, Inc. received sign-off approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Chicago District. This site now contains sustainable high-quality natural resources to be enjoyed for generations.
East Bank West Fork North Branch Chicago River Stabilization
Village of Glenview, IL
This project involved restoration and stabilization of the east bank of the West Fork North Branch of the Chicago River in downtown Glenview, IL. The scope of work involved the removal of woody invasive species through herbicide treatment and mechanical cutting, grading and reshaping the streambank, installation of two flagstone and cobble rock riffle structures, and boulder toe placement along the bank. Existing topsoil and clay materials were exported from the site and an amended soil was respread across the streambank and floodplain to facilitate seeding of native prairie, tree and shrub planting and installation of erosion control blanketing. This project was installed by ENCAP, Inc. in 2008 and placed on a 5 year management and maintenance program. The resulting restored and stabilized floodplain and streambank provides critical habitat in an urbanized area and serves as a naturalized park setting in downtown Glenview.
Downers Grove Wetland Mitigation Bank – DuPage County Department of Environmental Concerns
Downers Grove, IL
Work at this 15 acre site consisted of the establishment of a wet meadow wetland mitigation bank. The north eastern cell of the bank area contained a small woodland dominated by garlic mustard and buckthorn. As part of the bank establishment, ENCAP, Inc. cleared the buckthorn, eliminated garlic mustard, and planted specified trees and shrubs. ENCAP, Inc. completed installation in 2002 and has since completed numerous management activities including:
- Planting of native trees and shrubs
- Selective herbicide application of non-native perennial species
- Mowing and weed-whacking of non-native annual species
- Prescribed burning
- Non-native woody shrub removal
The site met U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District performance standards in 2007. ENCAP continues to perform long term maintenance on the site for DuPage County.
Silver Creek Stream Stabilization – Phase III
The Silver Creek Streambank Stabilization-Phase III project was performed for the Village of Melrose Park. ENCAP, Inc. was contracted to complete this challenging streambank stabilization project. Involving a lower reach of Silver Creek which drains directly into the Des Plaines River in Cook County, this project involved restoring over 1,200 feet of highly eroded stream channel in a heavily urbanized area.
The following article was written by Jonathan Koepke, CPESC, Division Manager at ENCAP, and was published in Stormwater Solutions Magazine in 2011.
Urbanization and land development in the 1930s-1960s in the near western suburbs of the Chicago Region has lead to a significant impact on the ecology and hydrology of the Des Plaines River watershed. A tributary to the Des Plaines River known as Silver Creek runs in back of and between industrial parks, shopping malls, roadways, and residences as it makes its way to the Des Plaines River. Over the course of the last thirty to forty years, the downstream sections of Silver Creek have experiences significant erosion including channel scour and stream bank loss. Because much of this section of the creek runs behind and adjacent to homes, streambank erosion was of serious concern to residents and the Village of Melrose Park.
The Village of Melrose Park chose to resolve the ongoing streambank erosion problems. They turned to Ted Gray, Stream Engineer and Fluvial Geomorphologist with Living Waters Consultants, Inc. in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Ted has many years of design, consultation, and construction supervision experience in working with streams in Northeast Illinois, and in particular streams in urbanized settings. The Silver Creek Phase III project was designed to provide long term, environmentally sound solutions for stream management in an urban setting. For that, a diverse series of stream stabilization practices were included in the design and installation including Rock Toe, Bank Slope Shaping, Vegetated Geogrid, Fiber Roll Terraces, Rock Points, Rock Riffles, Erosion Control Blanketing, and native plantings. The design preparation included working with significant challenges.
“One design challenge for stabilization included that the Des Plaines River is located just 2,500 feet downstream of the project site.” said Ted Gray. “ During Spring, this area floods several feet in depth over several continuous weeks. The height of the flooding extends to at least the middle of the bank. These unusual conditions make the banks susceptible to mass sliding and slumping, due to the weight of the saturated soils and the loss of soil cohesion. In addition, this condition puts a high amount of stress on the native vegetation that is intended to stabilize the banks. As a result, the types of native plants that can tolerate these conditions are limited.”
The variety of practices implemented on this project was necessary to ensure that the challenging conditions imposed by the stream dynamics and watershed were addressed in a cost-effective way. One existing challenge that had to be addressed was the very limited access to the work area due to encroachment of homes, loss of bank soils, and a high density of trees and woody debris along the creek corridor. The majority of the work area was densely wooded with large diameter cottonwood, willow, elm, and maple species. These undesirable species had contributed to the stream erosion by shading out native vegetation along the banks and creating debris jams. Cutting and removal of nearly all of the woody species and removing the existing fallen trees and debris was a necessary first step in constructing the project.
The steep slopes along the creek corridor and heavily eroded banks made traversing the work are difficult by foot and nearly impossible by machine. Additionally, permit restrictions on construction activity required that no equipment could operate in flowing water. The contractor on the project, ENCAP, Inc. in Sycamore, Illinois used a variety of innovative techniques to construct the project. Through the use of temporary piped stream crossings, benched access routes, and utilization of heavy duty timber mats to keep equipment out of the flowing water while constructing the project, ENCAP was able to construct the project efficiently while still maintaining permit compliance.
The most critical portion of the project was just downstream of a major bridge crossing on an outside meander of the creek. A nearly vertical eroded bank had been created nearly six feet in height. In order to restore this portion of creek bank, a series of soil lifts were reconstructed in this 200 foot section of bank utilizing uniaxial geogrid reinforcement of the backfill material used to reconstruct the slope. In addition, a geogrid soil lift was constructed just above the rock toe stabilization utilizing a three dimensional combination erosion control and turf reinforcement matting. The face of the soil lift and the remaining slope was seeded with a specialized native seed mixture specific to this project. The upper portions of the slope and the regarded slopes were then seeded and stabilized using a bionet straw coconut erosion blanket.
Within 24 hours of construction of this critical section of the project area described above, an extremely severe thunderstorm dropped nearly six inches of rain on the project within a time span of a few hours. The result caused flood depths of nearly 8 feet above base flow, with massive flooding of the work area. To the satisfaction of the contractor, engineer, and Village of Melrose Park, the project withstood the flooding with no damage, at a time when it was at its weakest. This was truly a testament to the power of design and proper construction.
This project, as all successful projects, involved proper and thorough planning and design, collaboration between stakeholders, and the coordination of regulatory agencies, the designer, residents, municipal officials, and the contractor. Ultimately the result is reduction of nonpoint source pollution, improved water quality in the stream reach and downstream watershed, improved habitat and stream structure, and an improved aesthetics along the stream corridor. This project was constructed utilizing matching funds through Illinois EPA from Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act and the balance of funds coming from the Village of Melrose Park.
Hidden Pond HOA – Shoreline Stabilization
Hidden Pond HOA in Schaumburg, Illinois contracted with ENCAP, Inc. for design-build services to stabilize the shorelines of their steeply eroded stormwater basin in a unique and aesthetically pleasing way in the winter of 2012. The HOA chose to use Eden outcropping stone for their shorelines. The stone placement took about two weeks and the outcome was great. The following Spring, ENCAP, Inc. crews returned to install emergent native plugs and some upland species as well. The Hidden Pond HOA was so pleased with the work, ENCAP, Inc. has been contracted to return in the winter of 2014 to stabilize another pond.
The Woodlands of Hinsdale
Phase I Green Infrastructure Improvements – Persistent stormwater infrastructure failures and flooding in the Woodlands subdivision in Hinsdale, IL, lead to an extensive and creative multi-phased and integrated stormwater infrastructure improvement project in 2012. Without centralized stormwater detention facilities in the area and no available land to construct new facilities, the project relied upon constructing a series of decentralized stormwater storage facilities and underground vaults to both store stormwater runoff and to reduce the time of concentration in the watershed to reduce flooding impacts. Over 30 rain gardens, bioswales, and bio-infiltration facilities were constructed in the first phase of the project. Runoff from the streets were directed into open curb cuts and boulder channels to store water in the rain gardens and bioswales. These green infrastructure facilities then filtered stormwater into underground storage vaults and newly constructed storm sewers. These biofilters helped clean stormwater prior to discharge. These areas were planted with a mix of native and ornamental plantings and decorative stone edging to provide ascetically pleasing landscape features for the community. The project was completed in 2013 and has won awards from the APWA-Chicago Metro chapter and several other organizations.
Eugene Field Park
In 2010, ENCAP, Inc. entered into a contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers to complete a total rehabilitation and naturalization of Eugene Field Park in Chicago, IL. Located on the Northwest side of Chicago off of Foster Drive, the project site included a degraded turf grass park area subject to flooding and included a portion of the North Branch of the Chicago River that flowed through the project. The existing ballfields and walking path on site were demolished and a 2 acre wetland constructed on the west portion of the project site. The adjacent areas on the west side of the property were planted to wet and mesic praire with the preserved oaks restored with an oak savanna planting mix. The north bank of the segment of the Chicago River on site, was regarded to provide additional floodplain habitat and provide a shallower bank. Two rock riffles were constructed within the river to provide grade stabilization and habitat for aquatic species and fisheries. The existing ballfields were raised out of the floodplain and restored to provide a unique mix or active and passive recreation, in addition to a new walking path that served to segment the portions of the project and to provide access through the native planting areas. The project was completed with construction in 2011 with plantings into 2012 and final completion including establishment activities and maintenance in 2014.
In 2012, ENCAP, Inc. was contracted to perform the native planting, restoration planting, and erosion controls for the Northerly Island Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project in Chicago, IL. On land that was formerly Meigs Airfield on the Museum Campus in the heart of Downtown Chicago, this 40-acre project involves a progressive and innovative design, by transforming the flat park into a series of sandy savanna covered hills with an 8 acre pond in the center which connects to Lake Michigan. The project is one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects undertaken in a fully urban area, and one of the few restoration projects to attempt to recreate coastal savanna on the great lakes. Many of the plant species selected for this project have rarely been cultivated for planting and should bring a unique and one of a kind natural area to downtown Chicago. This project is massive in size for its location, encompassing over 30 acres of native planting with over 200 oak trees, 10,000 shrubs, and more than 300,000 native plants. This 5 year restoration project is in its second year of planting and will be completed in 2017.