With the end of summer looming, I packed my camera, field guides, and water bottle and headed down to Lincoln Park to see the Nature Boardwalk, which opened in June. The park's South Pond had been under construction for more than a year, with bulldozers and backhoes tearing out the old and making way for the new, native ecosystem. About the only wildlife remaining from the old pond is a colony of endangered herons (in fact, construction was scheduled around their breeding season), as all of the non-native fish that had once called it home had to be destroyed (because it's illegal to release non-native species into local waterways).
The pond was filled and surrounded by regional vegetation and stocked with native minnows, bluegill, turtles, and other wildlife. Filtration systems were installed in the pond to keep the water's pH as close to a naturally formed pond as possible. An island in the middle of the pond and ledges under the bridges were meant to
encourage swallows and other non-aquatic species to take up residence as well.
As much as I enjoyed my stroll around the pond's perimeter, I think the habitat will be far more impressive in a couple of years.The newly transplanted sedges, grasses, and wildflowers will need time to take root and grow tall enough to cover the ground, and once the vegetation is established, even more species will come to settle in this ecological sanctuary. It was definitely worth the el fare, though!