Federal funding will bring a much-needed environmental restoration to Bubbly Creek

When the project is complete, Bubbly Creek will attract people to the Chicago River, support more diverse wildlife populations and show that if we invest time and energy, we can undo almost any disastrous environmental damage.

SHARE Federal funding will bring a much-needed environmental restoration to Bubbly Creek
A 2011 file photo of Bubbly Creek.

A 2011 file photo of Bubbly Creek.

Sun-Times file photo.

A recently signed federal law is good news for the waterway notoriously known as Bubbly Creek. The law authorizes $11.6 million to begin restoration of the 1.25-mile creek, officially known as the South Fork of South Branch of the Chicago River. The investment in ecological health will benefit both people and wildlife.

The creek, once a pristine prairie slough, was used for more than 100 years as a dumping ground for the Union Stockyards and was contaminated by local industry.

The money will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess and address combined sewer overflows, sediments and loss of aquatic habitat. Healthy aquatic and riparian habitats will be restored, protecting urban wildlife and migratory species that are under threat from loss of habitat and climate change.

Despite Bubbly Creek’s degradation, wildlife endures, including beavers, snapping turtles and endangered black-crowned night herons. It is a stop within the Western Great Lakes migratory corridor for a host of bird species, including waterfowl and songbirds.

Friends of the Chicago River, along with the City of Chicago, the Army Corps and other partners launched the Bubbly Creek Recovery Initiative in 2004. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, and U.S. Rep. Sean Casten were strong proponents. Durbin said “Authorizing an Army Corps feasibility study for the Bubbly Creek Project is a critical next step toward the restoration of this important segment of the Chicago River.”

When restoration is complete, Bubbly Creek will attract people to the river and support more diverse wildlife populations. It will demonstrate if we invest time and energy, we can undo almost any amount of disastrous environmental damage.

We look forward to working with the Army Corps, the city, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and other partners to meet the human and ecological objectives of this break-through restoration project, which will demonstrate how we can improve communities for everyone along the 156-mile Chicago River system.

Margaret Frisbie, executive director, Friends of the Chicago River

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Respect our blue-collar workers

There’s a Northwest Side Chicago public elementary school near me that has long been doing a wonderful job. Students are made to feel at ease, and as a result tend to be high-achieving and happy. Enlarged color photos on the fence outside underscore this. One, however, needs to be reassessed. It shows one girl about eight years old sitting alone on a staircase and beaming, and gracing each stair’s riser is a self esteem-building statement such as ‘You are loved’ and ‘You are invaluable’.

That’s a nice innovative touch, but the pupil is further assured he is ‘a scholar’ and ‘college-bound’. It’s here that we have to rethink matters. What happens when it becomes apparent that a teen is among those who are not strong university material? Regrettably in our society, the lack of a college degree is increasingly seen as a disappointment, if not a failure.

We need to reverse this trend toward diminishing blue collar workers, and show them some well-earned respect. Cultural sophistication fostered by psychology or philosophy courses doesn’t get our larger appliances manufactured, delivered, serviced, or picked up when discarded. It doesn’t get our homes built or the fires that imperil them put out.

We need people to apply practical knowledge. And more, where would we be without them? Our attitude toward them ought to reflect their contributions to society.

Tom Gregg, Niles

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