West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

Enjoy Our Nature Play Area and StoryWalk Every Day

Explore the newly installed and ever expanding Nature Play Area in the fenced area east of pond. The area includes a walking path of raised tree slices, balance beams, a table and stools, building blocks, a teepee, and (when supervision is available) a rope swing. Keep an eye out for additions.

Follow the wood StoryWalk kiosks along the South Woods Path and read the enclosed nature story page by page. A new story, "Why Don't Ducks Get Wet" is up for you and your children to read. 

Looking for Children's Nature Stories

Do you have a child who likes writing about nature? We are soliciting stories written by children for StoryWalk. More information below.

Both the Nature Play Area and StoryWalk are integral parts of our Family Nature Days the last Saturday of each month, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Deer Return to Nature Preserve

Recent deer sightings raise hopes that wildlife is making a comeback at West Ridge Nature Preserve. One of our PAC members, while strolling through our oak woods, captured the accompanying image of a deer happily making its way through the trees.

Two years of preserve construction, including removal of non-native growth, disturbed the existing ecosystem. Thus, the next three to five years require extraordinary efforts to care for and protect new and existing plants, shrubs, bushes and trees as well animals, birds and other species we hope to attract and nurture.

While deer are not our favorite wildlife species – they can be destructive to plantings – people do enjoy catching sight of them. Deer were prevalent in the preserve area pre-construction, but this is the first documentation we have had of their return. They come and go as they please, most likely jumping the fence from Rosehill Cemetery. We will keep an eye on them in terms of numbers and potential damage to plants and shrubs.

Neighborhood Kids Come to the Rescue of Catfish

West Ridge Nature Preserve Pond

Tian and Amanda of West Ridge were worried that the fish at their favorite pond wouldn’t be able to survive the dredging, restoration, and construction work to be done around the "old fishing hole".

With the help of a friend who collected a few fry from the pond before the machinery was on the scene, they and their father proceeded to baby sit until the young bullhead were large and strong enough to make it on their own back in the wilds.

Dad floats the temporary container in the pond to equalize temperatures before the release.

Amanda allows pond water to mix with the water in which the catfish have been living.

Two young bullhead rejoined the carp and other catfish in the pond at WRNP for Thanksgiving.

Photos by Tian

Frogs and Toads Are Making Their Presence Known

Love is in the air at West Ridge Nature Preserve. Have you been out for a pre-dusk stroll? If so, you may have heard loud chorusing sounds from all around the pond. These sounds are the mating calls of frogs and toads. You may even have seen some.

We are in the process of participating in an area-wide scientific monitoring of amphibians, known as The Calling Frog Survey. Several of our PAC volunteers attended educational sessions to become monitors and you may see them recording air and water temperature, wind and other factors as they make their rounds around the pond, listening and watching.


Thus far, the monitors have seen and heard numerous American toads and heard a few leopard and Copes gray tree frogs.

The purpose of this effort is to learn more about and protect endangered amphibians. Data from the monitoring will be entered into a database for use by agencies, preserve districts, researchers and scientists for better managing and planning.

West Ridge Nature Preserve

Receives Advocacy Award

Linda Wilson, our PAC Vice President, holds award certificate with Juanita Irizarry, Friends of the Park Executive Director.

Friends of the Parks honored our Park Advisory Committee (PAC) with a Volunteer-in-the-Parks (VIP) appreciation award at a special ceremony on Oct. 18, 2015. We were one of 16 groups and individuals recognized for special accomplishments.  

In presenting the award to our vice president, Linda Wilson, the Friends of the Parks lauded our advocacy efforts to create the West Ridge Nature Preserve, “working tirelessly with the Chicago Park District, alderman, and community members to make sure that the preserve would be a natural wonder in the community.”

West Ridge Nature Preserve

Recent Events

Sept. 20: Opening Day Activities

Sept. 25: New Foundation Center Tour

Oct. 3: "Shoot the Geese" Photo Day 

              and sidewalk cleanup

March 26: First Family Nature Day