Illinois International Port District
Listed below are some of the environmental organizations that the Port District has worked with in the past and continues to work with today trying to build a sustainable coalition of business, industry, and eco-friendly associations for the betterment of our marine community, as well as our local neighborhood.
In 1984 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Chicago Area Confined Disposal Facility at the mouth of the Calumet River at Lake Michigan with the Illinois International Port District as one of the sponsors of the site. The Corp of Engineers is authorized to maintain a Harbor channel depth of 28 feet and a Calumet River channel of 27 feet (feet below LWD). Sediments from the Calumet system generally show organics, sands, silts and clay with the following contaminants: arsenic, chromium, copper, cyanide, lead, manganese, oil and grease. The capacity of the facility was designed to contain 1,415,000 cubic yards of material; however, modifications were made to the site in 2010 to add an additional 175,000 cubic yards of capacity. It is estimated that 1,349,000 cubic yards of material has been transported and placed in this site from 1984-2010, keeping waterways open to commercial marine traffic while helping to clean the waters of harmful contaminants.
The Illinois International Port District has created approximately 7 acres of wetland directly adjacent to Lake Calumet. Ten years of specialized studies and monitoring by wetland specialists and constant site refinements were necessary to achieve the right conditions. The soils were amended by the introduction of additional topsoil, and water levels are carefully monitored and controlled. Purple Loosestrife is controlled by hand removal, herbicide treatment, and introduction of ten thousand of live Galerucella (beetles). Vegetation was introduced by seeding with grasses, sedges and rushes, and forbs in three zones- shallow emergent, wet meadow and prairie, and a total of 27,500 plants were installed. Through successful monitoring of vegetation and hydrology, these wetland areas were accepted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2006.
Annually since 2007, the Illinois International Port District has cooperated with the City of Chicago Department of the Environment in its gull control program in an attempt to control gull populations in order to support the City’s goals to reduce property damage, improve human health and reduce water quality degradation (by reducing episodes of E Coli occurrences in public beaches). The City Department of Environment has led this program, coordinating with the IIPD. After permits are secured through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources implements the annual program which includes removal of up to 50,000 nests and the oiling of eggs. In 2010 the IIPD supported the City of Chicago in its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant titled: Integrated Ring-billed Gull Management for Lake Michigan Beach Health.
In March of 2012, the Illinois International Port District holdings around and including Lake Calumet and Calumet Harbor are prime habitat for the Peregrine Falcon to nest and reside. Nesting pairs of this magnificent falcon have been monitored at the Skyway Bridge and the nearby abandoned railroad bridge crossing the Calumet River next to Torrence Avenue.
Unfortunately, the railroad bridge was recently put back into service, which rendered it unavailable for nesting in 2012. In anticipation of the loss of the bridge, the Great Lakes Falconers Association, with permission from the Port District, built and installed a Peregrine nest box on top of the Port District’s north silo complex at the southwest corner of Lake Calumet. During the installation, five Peregrines were observed at the silo complex, and there is an excellent chance that a pair will utilize the box for nesting in 2012 and beyond.