U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined officials from the Shedd Aquarium and Chicago Park District to announce $1 million in new federal funding he secured in the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Omnibus appropriations bill to address habitat restoration and conservation needs in the polluted ecosystem on the South Branch of the Chicago River—commonly known as “Bubbly Creek.”
“For more than 100 years, this area was a dumping ground for animal waste, industrial waste, and sewage from the adjacent Union Stockyards and related industries,” Durbin said. “I’ve been pushing for years for the federal government to take on this restoration project. The $1 million earmark funding I secured is an important step forward in restoring the South Branch of the Chicago River and I will continue to work with federal and non-federal partners to make Bubbly Creek safer and more sustainable for generations to come.”
“The significance of healthy, thriving waterways cannot be understated, as they play a contributing role in our physical health, our mental and emotional well-being, the state of our economy and own individual connection with nature,” said Dr. Bridget Coughlin, President and CEO at Shedd Aquarium. “Shedd Aquarium is committed to working shoulder-to-shoulder with our community and elected officials to help restore the South Branch of the Chicago River and in turn ensure a more equitable, sustainable and thriving future for both people and aquatic life.”
“The revitalization and activation of the South Branch of the Chicago River will serve as an important conduit for increasing neighborhood connectivity to the River, while enhancing opportunities for water-based recreation, nature education and park exploration,” said General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “The Chicago Park District is grateful to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and our partners at the Shedd Aquarium for investing in the future of our water environment, and enriching the quality of life for our park visitors and wildlife.”
The funding allows the Shedd Aquarium to work with the Chicago Park District and community organizations to restore this part of the river as an important aquatic resource and nature outlet. Specifically, the funding allows Shedd to install important native prairie and wetlands to increase green space and expand wildlife habitats; employ and train community members to advance the conservation of the river; and continue to study fish populations and other ecological measures. The restoration efforts will also focus on flood and stormwater prevention to ensure climate resiliency.