North Pond Restoration Update: September 30, 2022

North Pond Restoration Update: September 30, 2022

by Doug Widener

Adaptive Management. It’s a term used for analyzing and using data over time to make changes in a management approach or decision. Historically, it has been used in complex environmental projects to measure impacts and analyze data which then informs future decisions. We have used and will continue to employ this approach for managing North Pond and its natural areas. It’s a technique we are also using to adaptively manage the hardscape portions of the North Pond project, including fencing.

In short, we have received feedback from the community about the new fencing and we hear you loud and clear: the fencing is both too plentiful and too tall. While our goal is sound and based on protection of the pond’s shoreline and natural areas, what looked right on paper seems like overkill now that it is being installed. The need to protect the shoreline and natural areas from the soil compaction, erosion and runoff which previously led to the degradation of the site, must be balanced with community needs and input. We have heard from many of you, and we are listening. As a result, we are adapting our approach. Our design team and contractors are actively working on solutions which include lowering fence heights and changing the type or removing some areas of fencing. While we need to balance human access with shoreline and natural area protection and some areas of the pond will remain fenced, we also want a final project that makes the entire community happy and proud. So, it’s back to the drawing board. Stay tuned to this blog, our North Pond website, and social media for more details on our adaptive approach to the fencing plan. As always, thank you for your feedback and support. Together, we will ensure the right balance between access and conservation at North Pond.

While we’re on the topic of adaptive management, we’re employing it in a few other areas of the project. First, the large shiny metal box at the north end of the pond currently blocking the beautiful view of the pond will soon be replaced by a lower profile and much less noticeable metal screen. We’ve also heard concerns about the proximity of two new light poles near the Sunshine Playscape to the popular sledding hill and we are working with the Chicago Park District on potential solutions. In both cases, our community has offered input and thoughts and we are listening. Through this iterative, adaptive process we are ensuring that the North Pond Restoration Project results in a comprehensive and successful project for all users–human, animal, and plant–and serves as a successful model for public-private partnership. Thank you!

In closing, I am happy to report that freshly graded and planted north lawn is reopened. This was another example of adaptive management where we changed our dredging plan to keep the lawn open longer this summer. That said, I am sure we are all very happy to have this wonderful part of the park open once again and better than ever.

For questions email Doug Widener or read our weekly blog series.

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