Help Save North Pond

North Pond Is Disappearing

What’s Wrong with North Pond?

Because North Pond is so beautiful, few visitors realize it is a dying ecosystem that is slowly becoming a shallow wetland. The Pond’s health is negatively impacted by:

  • Shallow depth: Many people are surprised to know the Pond’s maximum water depth is only 3 feet, limiting aquatic habitat and inhibiting temperature regulation.
  • High temperatures: The Pond’s water is too warm in the summer, creating algae blooms that prevent healthy aquatic habitat.
  • Erosion: The unstable shoreline is slowly falling into the Pond, leading to sediment and pollution accumulation and shallow depths.
  • Nutrient run-off and sediment: The Pond is filling up with organic and mineral material like fertilizers, grass, leaves, bird poop (yikes!), tree limbs, and more.
  • Canada Geese: The barren, eroding shoreline attracts geese, who contribute to the Pond’s nutrient overload (see above).

Without quick intervention, these factors will kill the Pond as we know it, taking away a beloved human greenspace and destroying urban habitat for many native animal species. But there’s still time! If we work together to #DigDeepForNorthPond, we can save this treasured urban oasis and preserve North Pond not just as part of Lincoln Park’s past, but also its future. With a $7.1 million budget, our restoration project is estimated to begin late Fall 2021 and end Spring 2023.

The North Pond Restoration Project

The restoration and long-term stewardship encompass five key phases:

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Knowledge

Complete several studies to finish the master plan, including topographic and boundary study, tree inventory, and detailed pond bottom and sediment analysis. These summer 2020 studies added important data to already completed studies, including soil analysis, water quality testing, water balance/hydrology analysis, and depth and sediment studies. We will host several public meetings in November 2020 to collect and build on community input provided at earlier meetings, which will be integrated into the final restoration master plan. The plan is expected to be completed in Fall/Winter 2020/2021. Come back to this page often to see compiled results of the first phase.

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Dredge

Deepen 25% of the Pond to 8’ and dredge remaining pond expanse to remove sediment to increase water circulation and oxygen turnover, decrease water temperature, improve aquatic habitat, and reduce algae growth. Special care will be taken during the dredge to ensure the minimal disruption to resident animals, plants, and the general public.  Dredged material will be dewatered in fenced parkland north of North Pond and re-used in Lincoln Park and at Big Bend Park in South Chicago during the spring of 2022. A recent study found that the Pond, historically, had no bottom liner, increasing water loss below. A new liner, consisting of a natural polymer that will be sprayed in the Pond and settle at its bottom, will increase water retention and reduce city water use. The extensive design work, equipment mobilization, and sedimenthauling  costs all contribute to making the dredge the most significant project cost. All subsequent steps are dependent on dredge completion. 

edge

Edge

Grade and stabilize the pond edge to decrease erosion and pollution run-off into the Pond while providing additional public gathering and engagement opportunities around the shoreline. Areas of gradual slope will be planted with a variety of submergent and emergent native vegetation to stabilize the pond bank, whereas areas of steeper slope will be stabilized with natural limestone outcroppings interspersed with native plantings and public gathering areas.

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Sedge

Increase the amount and quality of natural areas surrounding the Pond to foster greater biodiversity, model natural infrastructure techniques, and provide public engagement/education opportunities with urban nature. Plans include doubling the size of the West Prairie (completed 2019), planting hundreds of native trees (ongoing, with phase one completed Fall 2019 and Spring 2020), and installing underdrains and water-loving sedges and other such plants in new natural areas around the Pond to capture and filter storm-water from adjacent parkland. This last component provides an additional water source to the Pond to reduce or eliminate its reliance on municipal water. 

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Pledge

North Pond’s restoration is directly dependent on community support and involvement, with 100% of project funding coming from private donors and foundations. Without support from the community, North Pond’s restoration will not be possible. Community investment will also be vital to the Pond’s long-term stewardship and care. Our restoration efforts are focused on developing consistent, long-term community commitments to North Pond through volunteer stewardship, public awareness, and educational programs. Learn more about how you can get involved below or donate/start your own crowdfunding page for the project here.

Learn More and Share Your Thoughts!

There are many ways to learn about and to share your thoughts or questions on North Pond’s restoration: check out project information below; attend a virtual public meeting or schedule your own virtual presentation; complete our project survey or view project diagrams and offer feedback. Still have questions or comments? Email us anytime.

Resources – Coming Soon!

  • One-page project overview
  • One-page budget
  • One-page project timeline
  • Historic graphic of Pond
  • Healthy versus unhealthy pond diagram(s)
  • Existing versus Dredge plan
  • Existing versus Shoreline grading, stabilization plan
  • Existing shoreline edge and canopy versus planned
  • Master Plan overview

Attend a Meeting

Attend a virtual public meeting:
Or schedule a personal presentation for your group or building. E-mail Doug Widener to schedule a North Pond presentation.

Feedback

Offer your comments and submit questions related to the North Pond Restoration project by completing our online survey. Visit the link below to offer feedback on key project elements.
Take the north pond survey

How Can I Help?

  • Contribute: We’re over halfway to our goal for the project budget, but North Pond’s restoration will not happen without your help! Public funding is not available, making community support critical to the project’s success. Community funding ensures that the restoration’s achievements are maintained through regular stewardship. You can donate and/or start your own crowdfunding page here.
  • Volunteer: Help us take care of North Pond! We rely on dedicated volunteers and corporate groups to maintain the Pond’s ecosystems. Our North Pond Champions also need help getting out the word of this important project. Join us in preserving one of Lincoln Park’s only dedicated natural areas.
  • Host a Meeting: Host a virtual meeting with friends, neighbors, or community group to learn more about the project. The more awareness we can build around this, the better! The entire community must #DigDeepForNorthPond. Contact Doug Widener for more information about hosting a meeting.
  • Learn More: Follow progress on our social media: FB @chicagolincolnpark and Instagram @lpconservancyE-mail Doug Widener to set up a 1-on-1 meeting to learn more about the project and how you can help North Pond.

Thank you to our generous donors for helping us help North Pond and all of Lincoln Park!

Project Timeline

Major updates coming very soon!

Project Updates

What’s Going On Now?

Keep an eye out for new updates!

Additional Project Resources

A variety of files on the restoration are available for download/print for personal use or to spread the word!

Explore and learn more about North Pond through project data, videos, concept plans, and activities that connect learners of all ages to the this urban nature sanctuary.

Soil Sampling – Look more closely at what’s under our feet: Open/Download PDF
Cupcake Geology – See through the Earth’s surface with delectable treats: Open/Download PDF
Topographic Mapping – Learn the lay of the land: Open/Download PDF
Bark Rubbing – Identify trees: Open/Download PDF

Meet the Project Team

Enjoy this video produced with Compass realty about the project.

We host monthly Wildflower Walks at North Pond from Spring to Fall to share the wonders of North Pond’s plants and animals with visitors. Check out our 2020 virtual walks below.

North Pond Stories
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Walk the Pond_8 copy

Recent Posts

North Pond Virtual Public Meetings

We are excited to announce public meetings to discuss the restoration of North Pond. Meetings will be hosted over Zoom on 3 dates: Wednesday, November 11, 5:30-7:30 pm Saturday, November 14, 9:30-11:30 am Tuesday, November 17, 1-3 pm Register to attend and to submit questions in......

2020 Annual Appeal

You can help Lincoln Park by supporting the Lincoln Park Conservancy during our annual appeal. The Conservancy’s past projects include the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, the Abraham Lincoln Gardens and most recently the new Sunshine Playscape. Our current project is a three-year plan to restore the......

North Pond Restoration Update

This summer has been busy as the Conservancy plans for the upcoming restoration of North Pond.  All of our background studies necessary to help us understand the Pond and the best approaches to restoring it have been completed.  In July we hosted a feedback session with our......

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