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A boardwalk at the South Shore Bird Sanctuary, a WRD Environmental project

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Chicago Park District Bird Sanctuaries, Chicago, IL

Client Profile

The Chicago Park District maintains and manages over 8,100 acres of land, with more than 500 acres classified as nature areas. The district’s natural areas continue to increase, and support a variety of wildlife and communities, including over 300 bird species that pass through or live in the Chicago area.


  • Install sanctuaries for migrating birds along the Chicago Lakefront at the South Shore Cultural Center, McCormick Place and Addison Street at Lake Shore Drive
  • Complete the initial transformation within a tight schedule and steward the project during establishment

Sample Results

  • Transformed over 15 acres of gravel and turfgrass into meadow, savanna, woodland and prairie with interpretive trails, boardwalks and amenities at all three sites
  • Increased available food sources, nesting habitat and rest points for migrating birds along Lake Michigan
  • Successfully installed aggregate pathways and a prairie to create the McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary, which sits atop a parking garage and required equipment restrictions
  • Converted more than four acres of neglected land at South Shore Cultural Center with a trail system leading visitors through constructed dunes, wetlands, prairie and woodland to overlook Lake Michigan
  • Recognized by a 2002 Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Wilderness
  • Helped Chicago's lakefront become designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society

Learn more about Chicago Park District Bird Sanctuaries.

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The McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary

A council ring at the South Shore Nature Sanctuary