Big Marsh Park
Eco-Recreation and Bike Park Behind the Scenes at Big Marsh There's an amazing team behind the scenes at Big Marsh. It takes many different elements to run a park, and the diverse qualities and talents of each team member play a major hand in the development of this park. Below you will get to meet two of our most important team members and hear some of the things that we've been up too.
Maintenance and Ecology
By Logan Behyl, our number one maintenance guy
"The pump track has been maintenance's focus recently but thanks to the soil stabilizer we were able to put down, it's significantly better at handling tire traffic and rain. With that all wrapped up we have been working our way up the medium jump line from the bottom and doing the same thing to ensure the longevity of the work we are doing. We want to get things running super smooth and fast. Single track build-out should come along shortly. All the jump lines are dialed in and sprayed. That is if the weather keeps cooperating."
By Lauren Umek, Ecologist for Chicago Park District
"We had 8 semi-loads of topsoil delivered to the jumps. CPD landscape crews, with a skid steer, tractor, and dump truck have been helping to move the soil closer to the jump lines and the Student Conservation Association Emerson had been out to help cut down whatever sparse vegetation we have out there, then spread the soil in a very thin (~2”) layer. Once the soil is spread, it will be seeded with an oats and rye cover crop and then a basic prairie mix in the fall or spring. We’re hoping that the thin layer of soil will provide enough nutrients and organic material for the seeds to germinate and ultimately establish through the clay. Getting plants established in between should compliment Logan's work on the trails and help stabilize the slopes and trail material.
Student Conservation Association (SCA) high school crew completed their citizen science work on the soils, confirming that we have some serious ecological challenges ahead. They also celebrated their “graduation” from the 6-week program by renting bikes and riding all of the features in the park. Maintenance staffers, Logan and David also brought their bikes to show them the big jumps. Although not the ideal time to grow turf, Chicago Park District Staffers, Jesse and Garret have been watering the turf panels that were hydro seeded in July and grass is slowly starting to establish. We’d like to use bio solids next year to help it along, but still need to resolve if they are appropriate/allowed at this site. Frogs are everywhere and it's awesome."
Very BIG news
The Park District was awarded $621,668 from Sustain Our Great Lakes administered through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. A total of $7.48 million was awarded to 23 projects across the Great Lakes region and Big Marsh was one of the largest single grants awarded.
Grant Project Summary:
"This project will establish 5.6 acres of healthy, native riparian habitat along 1.37 miles of creek and adjacent marsh banks, and improve water flow between these sections of the 252-acre Big Marsh Natural Area in southeast Chicago. Through debris removal, grading, seeding, and planting, Chicago Park District will remove physical impediments to functional hydrology and dramatically enhance some of the unnaturally steep and degraded riparian areas at one of the largest and most interconnected components of a once-thriving wetland complex in the Calumet region of the Lake Michigan watershed."
In Memory of Bryant Williams By Chental Handy, Project Coordinator for Friends of Big Marsh
Perhaps the saddest news I've had to report yet, is the passing of Bryant Williams. I'd like to take a moment to remember him and the beautifully woven life that he left behind. I only had a chance to meet him a few times, but because his personality was so great I would always hear amazing stories about him.
To Bryant: You were a man who wore many hats; Senior Director at community exchange, a community leader for the South East side of Chicago, Chicago environmental justice activist, and A board member for Friends of Big Marsh. And even though your plate seemed full you'd never let that show, A smile is what you will forever be remembered by.
I think it's important that we live up to his memories, and live life in the ways that he did. At this tragic time our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and everyone who is suffering from this great loss.
Until we meet again, Rest peacefully