Chips and Weeds, Turtles and Seeds

Dear Riverbank Friends,

Please join us for a Riverbank Stewardship Day Sunday, May 21, from noon until….

We have a mountain of wood chips to spread, weeds to pull and fences to mend, flowers to admire and we will keep our eyes open for migrating birds and turtles and butterflies. Please Join Us!

Snapping turtle on Chicago River Day by Hutchinson bank. Photo by J Atherton

Chicago River Day this Saturday

This Saturday is Chicago River Day, our community group, Riverbank Neighbors, will join dozens of other sites around the city to give some loving care and attention to our river and bank. We start at 9:00 and end at 12:00 sharing food at Berteau and the River. This is a great day for neighbors new and old to join together to enjoy the beauty of nature and learn how to care for our earth. (meet at Berteau and the east side of the river…)

We will be woodchipping the paths; weeding; and going for a wildflower walk.

Please bring: a waterbottle for yourself or food or healthy drinks to share after the workday or a little optional donation for the pizza money. thanks! Riverbank Stewards

PS. Seeking Riverbank Waterers: At Waters Garden, there are the Waters Waterers who, for many years, each keep the garden watered one day of the week. These are peaceful folk, some of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet. They keep the garden alive through dry times. We also have Riverbank Waterers, but need to get a bit more organized and need more good people to join in the watering. We installed a whole number of new plants this Spring, hoping for cool weather and rain to get them started. We got the cool weather, but not the rain. Is anyone available to “adopt” a section of the riverbank, to monitor and water as needed? Please let us know so that no one person has to do too much, and that we don’t lose these plants. Replies to this email go to multiple stewards who maintain the email list, or, alternatively, come to the riverbank and find us Saturday or other times and we can show you how to water. Waterers tell us that watering is a mediation in nature, that people thank them, that they meet the nicest people while watering. Thank you! and please thank them!

PSS To that end, a reminder that if you can afford to support Riverbank Neighbors with a donation to our work. Here’s the info about how to donate. Our gratitude to all who’ve donated over the years and to those who organized fundraisers and, of course, to our neighbors who support the work, protect the rare native ecosystem that we restored, who walk the path, keeping it tidy and protected, the community of Riverbank Neighbors, and the network of individuals in partner organizations, NeighborSpace, Friends of the Chicago River, Openlands, The Green Council, The North Branch Restoration Project, and Waters Garden/Ecology and many many kind neighbors far and wide.

Wild ginger blossom peeking out

It’s Bloomin’ Spring!

Table of Contents

Join us for a riverbank stewardship day Sunday, 4-23. We are wondering if someone would like to experience being site captain for Chicago River Day? Check out the flowers emerging on the bank. Introducing  and welcoming the new steward of the River Park / Legion Park Riverbank.  A request for participation and donations. And a new book recommendation section!

Riverbank Stewardship Day

Sunday, April  23, 2023, 12 noon, until 2:00, RBN will be taking care of business at the riverbank. We will be burning brush (it will be chilly, dress appropriately), building twig fences, transplanting native flowers, picking up litter, etc, etc. We will end with some food to share over the camp fire. Bring your stories and songs, your energy and ideas to share. 

We would like to invite everyone who can to join us to learn and work and build our community and restoration culture.  Come when you can, do what you are able. We also encourage and ask our community to support the work. We don’t receive any outside funding. Our community sustains us. You can donate cash, pay for plants, tools and supplies, or make a tax exempt donation through Friends of the Chicago River / Riverbank neighbors.

Spring has Sprung

The riverbank is springing to life, just compare the prairie a month ago and now:

Take time to watch out for the spring flowers blooming everywhere, including:

Anemone quinquefolia (wood anemone)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)

Ranunculus hisbidus nitidus (swamp buttercup)

Viola pubescens (downy yellow violet)

Asarum canadense (wild ginger)

New River Park Stewardship Group

It is so exciting and good to know that new stewardship groups are taking on the care of “new” natural areas. Below are links to invitations to participate in the restoration and management of the River and Legion Park Natural Areas. Like us, they have stewardship days, sharing of food and knowledge, and the making of new friends. Perhaps in the future we can organize to attend as a group to support their good work. Happy Earth Month All!

My name is Raed Mansour and I’m the new River Park Natural Area Community Steward. I live in Albany Park and have been volunteering at River and Ronan Parks so it’s a privilege to now serve as the lead volunteer steward for the natural areas here.

River Park Update As you may have already heard, the Ronan Park Stewards have moved on but I plan to work with everyone to cover both natural areas. There are some immediate needs in River Park since the Army Corps of Engineers completed the River Riparian Connectivity and Habitat Restoration project last year. In October 2022, we took advantage of an opportunity to begin planting and mulching right after the Army Corps project completed, with the amazing help of the Chicago Audubon Society, Openlands, River PAC, and volunteers like you. You can read about the planting day here. We’re still raising money through the Chicago Audubon Society for this year’s planting so feel free to share this link here with your family, friends and neighbors. Block Club also wrote a story about our efforts, Lincoln Square Neighbors Raising Money To Add Trees For Migratory Birds At River Park. I’ll provide more updates to some of the plans in future messages.

2023 Workday Schedule Attached is a flier for this year’s workday dates and please share with anyone else interested in volunteering. I will email everyone in advance before each scheduled workday. No experience is necessary. We’ll always go over the plan for the day. And we will always meet outside the River Park Fieldhouse. The workdays planned for this year are as follows:

  1. Saturday, May 13, Chicago River Day, 9a – 12p
    • Friends of the Chicago River sponsored cleanups at River Park East, River Park West, River Park on the Water, and Ronan Park spots are all filled to capacity, almost as fast as the event was made public, sorry.
    • FYI, Friends of the Chicago River created a cool free Natural Solutions Tool with The Trust for Public Land, check it out!
  2. Saturday, June 3, Chicago Parks Foundation Sponsored It’s Your Park Day, 10a – 12p
    • Link to sign up will be provided
  3. Wednesday, July 5, River PAC Sponsored Fireworks Cleanup, 9a- 12p
    • Link to sign up will be provided
  4. Saturday, August 19, Bird Walk, 8a – 10a 
    • Link to sign up will be provided
  5. Saturday, September 16, General Workday and Nature Walk, 9a – 12p
    • Link to sign up will be provided
  6. Saturday, October 28, Chicago Audubon Society Planting & Mulching Day, 10a – 12p
    • Link to sign up will be provided

Advice for Workdays Follow these tips to make your time more enjoyable:

  • All participants must sign a Chicago Park District liability waiver before beginning work. Copies of the forms will be available on site, but to save time, I attached them for you to print and sign in advance.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes, dress for the weather, and wear comfortable clothes that can get dirty.
  • A water bottle and hat are recommended.
  • Work gloves will be available to borrow, but feel free to bring your own.
  • Avoid wearing perfume as it may attract insects.
  • Bathrooms are sometimes open, but please plan accordingly in case they are not.
  • Take time to enjoy nature. No harm in taking a break.

I also created a Facebook Group for stewardship at River and Ronan Parks to share workdays, updates, and pics, recruit more volunteers, and build community interest on the importance of these natural areas. I’ll always ask permission to take a photo and post on Facebook. And feel free to share your work on your own social channels.
If you know of anyone interested in volunteering, share this message with them or send them my email address. You’re on this email because you either have volunteered in the past or expressed interest in volunteering. If you want to be removed from future mailings, please email me back to unsubscribe. No questions asked.

Thank you to everyone who has lended their time in the past and to those who are interested in building community and helping maintain, improve and restore the natural areas at River and Ronan and River Parks for everyone to enjoy. I look forward to working with you!

All the best, Raed

Raed Mansour

River Park Natural Area Community Steward Volunteer

Join our Facebook Group!

Book Recommendation

“The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” by Dan Egan. 

I often told my students that we seem able to recognize the Lake’s vastness, its wild energy, and raw beauty. But, what is happening under the surface is a mystery to most of us. Dan Egan’s book reveals much of that mystery. Some of it we may know, but this historical documentation of the “breaching” of the Great Lakes isolation by the building of the Erie  and Welland Canals, the subsequent introduction of scores (unknown hundreds) of invasive species as ships traversed the globe to Port Chicago, and the ramifications on lake ecology are made painfully real. New threats! Everyday. 

We live on the shores of a treasure. Let us learn how to protect it. 


Thanks to all and hope to see you by the river,

Riverbank Stewards

Burn Training soon

Dear Riverbank Neighbors,

The Controlled Burn Support Crew Training will take place online on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, on Zoom. Please sign up here and we will send you a link in email. Please look for that email.

The land sleeps under a blanket of snow. Native seeds that we, and the other plants, have scattered are undergoing the alchemy of  stratification, the setting of the switch for future growth brought on by sub-freezing temperatures.  The snow on trees and dried stems is a spectacular treat in these isolated times. Before we know it, the snows will be gone, the remains of last years’ plants will dry, and we will, once again, prepare to conduct controlled burns on the river bank. We have now done this for more than 20 years! Burning is essential to the maintenance of native plant ecosystems: removing invasive species, darkening the ground, and dusting the soil with minerals bound up in the stems and duff. 
We will be having an on-line training for new and return volunteers who would like to participate.  I myself find it very valuable to review the procedure and be reminded of the seriousness and heavy responsibility we accept when we do this burn.  A number of veteran burn leaders will present, and we invite experienced neighbors to join us to add their experiences to this workshop. 

Riverbank Neighbors