West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

Our Focus

The Environment Committee serves as protectors of the West Ridge Nature Preserve’s wildlife habitat. We advocate for and work toward preserving and enhancing its native biodiversity. At the same time, we embrace the environmentally sensitive use of the area for viewing, walking, meditating, learning, bird watching, and dock fishing. Tucked within a bustling city, the preserve will offer wildlife and humans a much needed refuge.

What Have We Accomplished?

Beginning with the release of the 2013 design plans, our committee members have monitored on-site development. We also have met with the Chicago Park District and others. Our efforts have:

  1. Reduced tree removal
  2. Increased plantings
  3. Saved some dead trees as habitat
  4. Preserved a stream
  5. Reduced the width and number of paths
  6. Canceled canoe and kayak launch plans
We also supported a number of changes required by the Army Corps of Engineers. To protect the wetlands, a boardwalk now extends over the wetland on the west side and the removal of a fishing station preserves the wetland on the east.

What Will You See?

The preserve -- with its trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and pond -- has always provided a natural habitat for a variety of birds, animals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and insects. For example, from a bird’s eye perspective, the preserve is a green oasis with water amidst a sea of concrete. These features make it attractive to native birds and a major stopover for migratory ones. Birdwatchers have spotted more than 120 species, including resident and migratory birds, here and in the adjoining cemetery.

How Can You Help?

Volunteers and Donations: As the preserve opens and evolves, we will need help obtaining funds for additional trees and shrubs as well as planting and maintaining what we add. General surveillance of and reporting on the health of the site is also a need.

Stewardship: Please support us in cultivating environmental respect and appreciation. Because of the significance and fragility of the preserve, access to dogs is denied.

We Love Your Dogs and Ours, but …

“… the reason dogs are not allowed in any of the City’s nature preserves is because they hinder birds and other prey animals from making the nature preserves their home. Birds, flying squirrels, raccoon, deer, etc. are all prey animals by nature and will go out of their way to avoid areas where dogs are present. Please remember that this is not a typical Chicago Park District facility but a nature preserve whose purpose is to become a habitat for wildlife that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

-From Alderman Patrick O’Connor’s News Letter

Some Area Dog Friendly Parks