David Ramsey
Friends of the Chicago River
Chicago, Illinois

In his capacity as a Project Director of the Chicago Rivers Project at Friends of the Chicago River, David Ramsay worked with a coalition of neighborhood groups, school districts, federal agencies, and state and local governments to establish two model wetland restoration projects along the Chicago River. Both of these projects — one located in a city park and one located on county land in a suburban area — are designed to build on the enthusiasm and leadership of local residents to begin to restore some of the natural characteristics of the heavily altered Chicago River ecosystem, a natural system that many consider beyond repair.

Both projects are designed not only to begin to restore the ecosystem, but to build a sense of community stewardship over the river ecosystem. In both cases, local residents, nearby schools, and community groups have participated in the site evaluation and design phase of the projects and will continue to be involved as the projects progress. As demonstration projects, they are designed to show how these techniques can be used to achieve similar resource and community benefits throughout the watershed.

Ramsay also has led a coalition to create a restoration project for 25 acres of wetlands on Lake County Forest Preserve District land located 30 miles north of Chicago. Local park district, municipalities, conservation and garden clubs, high school students, businesses, and federal agencies have all participated. The outcome is not only a model for ecological restoration, but one for connecting people with the resources.

—Moira Mcdonald, Coalition to Restore Urban Waters