Improving Aquatic Plant Habitat in the Chicago-Calumet River System

This summer, Friends and our partners at the Shedd Aquarium continue to improve habitat in the Chicago-Calumet River system by working side-by-side with volunteers to install native aquatic plants through our Paddle and Plant program.

In July, we hosted four planting events with more than 40 community volunteers who installed a total of 984 lizard’s tail and water willow plants along the banks of the Little Calumet River. Over time both of these plant species expand into lush colonies in the emergent zone of the river. These native plant communities, which are resilient to changing water levels, provide habitat for fish, turtles, and small mammals such as otters, muskrats, and beavers, as well as improve erosion control, water quality, and waterway aesthetics. Two planting events are scheduled this month on the North Shore Channel.

Earlier this summer Friends teamed up with international sailing athletes from SailGP to install native aquatic plants along the North Branch of the river. The sailing league is helping expand Friends’ instream planting program through the planting of over 5,000 plants over a two mile stretch of river. 

Special thanks to all our volunteer canoe guides who help make these planting events successful.