Community Vision Rejuvenates Chicago Recreation Area

The Takeaway: An urban oasis long described as a “hidden gem” is becoming a destination park once again, with improvements supported and managed by Illinois’ coastal management program.

The William W. Powers State Recreation Area, on the southeast side of Chicago, has long been a haven for outdoor recreation and rare habitat, but over the past two decades its deteriorating operations and aesthetics had hindered the experience of visitors. The community aims to bring the area back to its full ecological, cultural, and community potential. The Illinois Coastal Management Program is playing a role in that rejuvenation by providing project management and grant support.

Public access and park facilities are upgraded, much habitat is restored, and invasive species are on the retreat. More than 1,200 community members weighed in on potential improvements through a process supported by the state’s coastal management program. As a result, plans for new signage, a fishing pier, kayak launch, and outdoor classroom are underway, with funding made possible by the Illinois Conservation Foundation and Chi-Cal Rivers Fund.

This project fits a major focus of the state’s coastal management program. Between 2013 and 2017, more than 180 acres of Illinois’ natural habitat have been restored or had invasive species removed because of coastal program funding and technical assistance. The project also complements many open-space developments in the Calumet region, which spans northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. (2018/Updated 2020)

More Information: William W. Powers State Recreation Area

Partners: Audubon Great Lakes, Calumet Ecological Park Association, Chi-Cal Rivers Fund, Chicago Park District, Faith in Place, Field Museum, Fishin’ Buddies, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Fuller Park Community Development, Goldengate Homeowners Association, Illinois Coastal Management Program, Illinois Conservation Foundation, National Park Service, The Lakota Group, The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Southeast Sportsmen’s Club