Chicago Park District & Partners Host Tree Planting Event In Burnham Park on May 10
The Chicago Park District and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are hosting a tree planting event, Roots and Routes to Grow, in Burnham Park (47th Street and Cornell Drive) on Sat., May 10, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. in partnership with Chicago Wilderness, The Field Museum, Friends of the Parks, The Nature Conservancy, Openlands, Audubon - Chicago Region, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Participants volunteering represent more than 30 different community-based groups from the Bronzeville and Pilsen neighborhoods.
“Our efforts to restore and preserve our city’s natural environment are among our most important tasks,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly. “Through this tree planting event, we are not only laying the foundation for the Burnham Wildlife Corridor development but also connecting the community to the process and doing our part to ensure that Chicago’s natural environment is supported for future generations.”
This tree planting event underscores the major announcements that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has previously made regarding parks, including a comprehensive plan to build and improve parks throughout the city, so that every Chicagoan is within a ten minute walk of a park. In addition, the event, presented by CN railroad, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Exelon, aims to connect the community to Burnham Park’s new natural area, which provides healthy habitat for wildlife, specifically migrating birds. Cost share funding for this project comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was provided by President Obama's "Great Lakes Restoration Initiative" and goes toward the overall development of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. The largest private contributor to overall development of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor is CN railroad with $150,000.
“We are so pleased to be a part of this project which connects Chicagoans with nature in such a hands-on and meaningful way,” said Louise Clemency, Field Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The trees we will plant will be much needed resting and refueling habitat for the songbirds that migrate through our city on their long journeys to and from their nesting and wintering areas.”
The event site is a 20 acre-woodland that runs from 39th Street to 47th Street, west of Lake Shore Drive and east of the CN railroad tracks. The Chicago Park District is developing this new natural area as part of the larger Burnham Wildlife Corridor which will be comprised of several existing and developing natural areas on both the east and west sides of Lake Shore Drive between 25th and 47th Streets. Tree species that will be planted include seven species of oaks and two species of maples, as well as crabapples, redbuds, and tupelos.
Project organizers have been making a concerted effort to meaningfully engage local communities in the development of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor through public meetings, tree planting trainings, and facilitated discussions about design elements such as seating, artwork, and memorial tree groves.
“Our collections and scientific research have informed the Park District's ecological restoration efforts along the south lakefront by deepening understanding of bird migration,” said Jacob Campbell of The Field Museum's Science Action Center. “The place-based conservation methods of the Action Center led the Park District to ask that we guide the effort to engage the communities of Bronzeville and Pilsen in this work -- for the impact it will have on both the restored natural area as well as the communities adjacent to it.”
As part of Exelon’s sponsorship, 80 Chicago public high school students and Exelon employee mentors from the company’s United Way Stay In School Initiative will attend and plant trees at the event. Thirty youth ambassadors recruited by The Field Museum will be leading tree plantings along with Openlands’ TreeKeeper volunteers. In addition, various school groups consisting of 350 students in total will come out to help plant more trees throughout on a separate day in May.
“This innovative project advances environmental preservation and education, promising to improve the quality of life for the customers and communities we serve,” said Steve Solomon, vice president of corporate relations at Exelon. “We’re pleased to lend our support to Roots and Routes to Grow and proud of our Stay in School student and mentor volunteers, who are doing their parts to help make the Burnham Wildlife Corridor a reality.”
About Burnham Wildlife Corridor
The Chicago Park District is currently developing the Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC) as a 100-acre ribbon of urban wilderness running through one of the city’s premier lakefront properties, Burnham Park. BWC is located within the Millennium Reserve, one of two sites in Illinois to be included in President Obama's "America's Great Outdoors" initiative.
When complete, the Burnham Wildlife Corridor will be the largest contiguous natural area along the Chicago Lakefront, stretching from McCormick Place in the north to the Burnham Nature Sanctuary at 47th Street and Lakeshore Drive in the south. It will be a vibrant, green space for people to enjoy and for wildlife, particularly the three million+ migratory birds that fly through Chicago annually, to forage and find refuge.
Chicago’s Lakefront was designated an Important Birding Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society in 2007. Burnham Park is situated along Chicago’s Lakefront.