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A 'Wild Mile' on the Chicago River Utilizes Floating Gardens

An effort is underway to reintroduce a natural habitats along a stretch of postindustrial Chicago River canal-scape. Floating garden modules are being used to attract species back to the area.
July 11, 2018, 7am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Bernt Rostad

Chicago's Shedd Aquarium and Urban Rivers have joined forces to implement what Patrick M. O'Connell calls "the beginning of a vision to turn the old industrial channel on Goose Island's eastern edge into a 'wild mile,' an eco-park of floating plants, wetlands, kayak piers and public walkways."

Shedd's floating garden plan calls for the addition of "260 square feet of native plants such as swamp rose mallow, marsh marigold, Dudley's rush and queen-of-the-prairie to the 1,500 square feet installed a year ago by Urban Rivers." 

While the design is "wildlife-first," it also promises to rejuvenate the former industrial district for human use. "With people now flocking to the banks of the river downtown along the booming Riverwalk, the Urban Rivers and Shedd projects are designed to boost the river habitat while delivering appealing, accessible experiences to the more industrial, less trafficked stretches of the river."

The goal, O'Connell writes, is to "eventually build 60,000 to 70,000 square feet of floating habitat between the North Avenue and Halsted Street bridges."

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Published on Friday, June 22, 2018 in The Chicago Tribune
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