- Our work started with research done by our founder, Joshua Yellin, during his Master's studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign*.
- Josh sought out to answer the question: "WHY ARE OUR RIVERS SO UGLY"
- For his test pilot, Josh installed 50 square feet of floating gardens in the Chicago River in June of 2013 and monitored the population of fish.
- Results indicated a nearly 100% increase in the fish abundance in the river immediately surrounding the floating gardens when compared to traditional docks.
- Urban Rivers is working with the MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) on a four-year study to monitor fish populations at our installation site. This research is already underway, and our measurements include: fish counts, water quality and macro-invertebrate counts.
*SOURCE: "EVALUATING THE EFFICACY OF AN ARTIFICIAL FLOATING ISLAND AS FISH HABITAT IN THE CHICAGO RIVER: A PILOT STUDY", Joshua Yellin, 2013
- The wildlife in our Chicago River is in desperate need of habitat and our gardens will provide vital sanctuaries for fish, ducks, turtles, and more.
- Our Chicago River needs to be cleaned up. Residents and visitors will soon be able to enjoy natural scenery in the heart of Chicago.
- This is an opportunity to educate our community on the environment and create engaging STEAM curriculum for students (STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)
- Environmental innovation can benefit cities across the world...and it all starts in Chicago.
Our hardware is engineered to survive Chicago conditions year-round. Our partner, Biomatrix Water, builds their floating garden structures with the following technical features:
- Marine-grade engineering to withstand all weather conditions
- Locking stainless steel quick connect system, making it easy to add additional gardens
- Fully cross-braced structure
- UV resistant thermo-fused tough floats
- Concrete anchors secured using weighted guide rail
We anticipate the following animals utilizing the floating gardens as habitat. Note, this is only a small selection of the animals we expect to see there.
- Fish (bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish and more… including tadpole madtoms, which is actually a fish species that looks like a tadpole. We caught one at our installation while doing fish surveys)
- Birds (mallard ducks, great blue herons, Canada geese and more)
- Mammals (muskrats, field mice, river otters, and more) Reptiles and
- Amphibians (painted turtle, snapping turtle, American toad and more)
- As well as a variety of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates (crayfish, dragonflies, damselflies and more)
Urban Rivers will be using native Illinois wetland and prairie plant species to provide the habitat foundation for the floating islands. The floating island's design allows us to create diverse habitats because of their ability to grow plants that can take on a wide range of water tolerances in a small area. This gives us tremendous opportunities to create biodiversity and a resilient ecosystem by planting many different food and nectar sources as well as providing protection and materials for the native wildlife. Each one of the plants selected will fulfill the goal of bringing back wildlife to the Chicago River.
Some plant species we are thinking of using are Filipendula rubra, Iliamna remota, Liatris spicata, Spartina pectinata, and Carex vulpinoidea to name a few. The plants will be carefully selected by experts, including Peter Nagle, botanist at Chicago Botanic Garden. Examples of the plants are pictured below.