With a big thank you to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Waukegan Harbor Citizens Advisory group was able to start a new phase in cleanup and protection of the Waukegan River on May 17, 2003. Approximately 20 volunteers from the community came out to pick up garbage, perform streambank stabilization, and remove invasive plants from the river ravines. This first step in citizen participation in river restoration will be followed by community meetings designed to recruit a sustained volunteer corps as stewards of the Waukegan River.
On June 14, the Waukegan Park District officially opened the “new and improved” Roosevelt Park in downtown Waukegan just upstream from the first restoration site. And the playground equipment isn’t the only improvement! The District has stabilized the banks of the river using native plantings, and has a long-term vision for returning the river to its former status as an urban reservoir of biodiversity. With local officials expounding on the benefits that natural habitats bring to a community, the river continues to fill its role as a prime natural asset of the city of Waukegan.