Another section of the channel banks was transformed on Saturday as the community came together to plant native trees and shrubs in front of the Ecology Center. It was part of Chicago River Day, an annual event organized by our partners at Friends of the Chicago River. Events were held at 70 sites around the Chicago River system. A city crew was there early to prepare the site. Working with a site plan drafted by architect Greg Williams, one of the regular Channel Habitat volunteers, we staged two dozen plants. American plums, blackhaw viburnums, wild roses, hazelnuts, and a serviceberry are among the small trees and shrubs that will add beauty to the site while also greatly improving its value as bird habitat.
While another group of volunteers fanned out through the arboretum and Twiggs Park to pull garlic mustard and collect trash, the planting group got to work. Students from Northwestern were among the community volunteers who joined us, along with a group from Y.O.U. They put so much energy into the work, we actually finished earlier than expected. The timing was perfect: predicted thunderstorms held off until the afternoon, then the new plants got a thorough watering as rains moved in. We’ll put the finishing touches on the area over coming weeks, but the hardest work is finished for now and the channelside parks are looking a lot cleaner, thanks to the efforts of this generous group of volunteers.
— Wendy Pollock