Publish Date

Earth Day park clean-ups and a global biodiversity challenge blossom with patron participation throughout April.

The Chicago Park District is proud to partner with Friends of the Parks to nurture nature and celebrate Earth Day on April 22, 2023. With 93 park locations and hundreds of volunteers, the goal is to work collaboratively to help preserve and celebrate Chicago’s natural beauty.

Following Earth Day, from April 28, 2023, through May 1, 2023, the Chicagoland Region will compete in the 8th annual City Nature Challenge (CNC), a global biodiversity challenge. More than 400 cities and 41,000 people are expected to participate worldwide. Chicago area residents will search for, photograph, and share images of flora and fauna, and compete with other metropolitan areas to identify local wildlife. 

“We have an obligation now, more than ever, to be stewards of our city’s green spaces and natural areas,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO, Rosa Escareño. “We are proud that our staff, patrons, partners, and volunteers share the goal of creating clean and healthy natural environments for our park visitors to enjoy, and our natural vegetation and wildlife to thrive in.”

Earth Day

The Chicago Park District and Friends of the Parks invite individuals, community groups, Park Advisory Councils, and families to participate in Earth Day celebrations throughout Chicago parks.  Please visit for a complete list of the 93 participating parks, volunteer registration and volunteer waivers. An interactive map is available to view local clean-up sites in relation to volunteers’ location. Each park location has a volunteer site captain whose contact information is available on the individual park sign-up page. 

The Chicago Park District will provide tools, mulch, fibar, and will aid in garbage pickup with increased presence at cleanup sites, as hundreds of volunteers rid our parks of litter. Friends of the Parks and will provide gloves and garbage bags to registered volunteers at each site.

City Nature Challenge

Following Earth Day, from April 28, 2023, through May 1, 2023, the Chicago Park District will join local organizations in the 8th annual City Nature Challenge, a global biodiversity competition organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. The competition creates a wide network of experts that local land managers and scientists can seek for support in identifying and protecting Chicago’s biodiversity.  

The Chicagoland Region effort is led by the Chicago Park District, Chicago Wilderness Alliance, Lincoln Park Zoo, Illinois Science Council, The Nature Conservancy-Indiana, Forest Preserve District of Will County, Chicago Ornithological Society, and other regional conservation organizations.

During last year's challenge, the Chicago Metro region saw the most participation ever with over 800 observers, more than 500 identifiers of over 1,300 species. Over 9,200 observations were shared to the iNaturalist app within the region.  

Chicago’s parks are the perfect locations for residents of all ages and experience levels to start the challenge, and engage their curiosity about nature. 
Patrons can participate in the City Nature Challenge for free by visiting or downloading the iNaturalist app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store.

The procedure is simple: 
1.    Find wildlife in your local Chicago park, natural area, or trail! It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life, such as scat, fur, tracks, shells, or carcasses. 
2.    Upload the pictures of the flora and fauna you find using the iNaturalist App.
3.    Learn more about our region as observations are identified. 

The results of the challenge will be announced May 8, 2023.

Natural Areas

In addition, the Chicago Park District is thrilled to remind residents about our natural areas, and the opportunities for year-round education and recreation within them. For a full list of Chicago Park District natural areas, please visit

Inclement weather keeping you in this spring? Refer to the following free, on-demand digital resources to learn about our Natural Areas, and engage in exciting activities from the comfort of your own backyard or local park: 

1.    30 Days of Nature: On-Demand Nature Activities
2.    Walking Experience in Chicago’s Parks
3.    Showcasing Chicago’s Natural Areas 

With our motto in mind, “Garden in a City”” there is no better time than the spring to start learning about how the Chicago Park District nurtures nature at our unique park locations.