If you're excited about Chicago's newest camping destination--a completely redeveloped Northerly Island that was announced last week--you can rest assured that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is excited, too. On Thursday, they requested another $2.2 million in funding from the Great Lakes Fisheries Ecosystem Restoration, bringing the total project budget up to nearly $7 million.
The extra money will pay for higher hills (for better views and more protected camping groves), a deeper pond (so it'll stay wet year-round), more trails, boardwalks, and a bridge at the southern end of the peninsula.
As promised, campers will explore 6 distinctive ecosystems:
1. Mesic Prairie - a relatively dry grassland filled with flowering plants like goldenrod, clover, and blazingstar.
2. Wet Prairie - a grassy wetland that attracts waterfowl.
3. Pond - a home for endangered mudpuppy salamanders and underwater cameras for viewing fish.
4. Emergent Marsh - a shallow wetland that fluctuates seasonally, often home to water birds, amphibians, and wetland mammals like beavers and muskrats.
5. Savannah - a tallgrass prairie dotted with trees, usually Black and Bur Oaks.
6. Lacustrine - (meaning "of a lake") a shallow aquatic environment between the peninsula and the mainland that will attract native fish.
The Corps of Engineers will start construction this November, first fencing off the southern 40 acres of Northerly Island and then grading the land, adding substrates for the pond and lacustrine areas, and planting native species until the project wraps up in the spring of 2014.