The Hegewisch Marsh, an oasis of nature on the Southeast side of Chicago, is home to endangered species, beavers, and a host of other flora and fauna. Since being identified in the Calumet Open Space Reserve Plan as an important natural area to preserve as well as the targeted home for the proposed Ford Calumet Environmental Center, the city has been working hard on its restoration. Much has been accomplished in the past few years in an effort to return this green gem to as natural a state as possible. And much more remains to be done as evidenced by Walmart’s recent donation of $100,00.00 (see video above) to help fund restoration work.
But now, due to the planned reconfiguration of nearby Torrence Ave and 130th Street, an access road will be built through the Marsh, parallel to Torrence Avenue, for the purpose of transferring Ford’s new vehicles from their plant to their parking lot on the opposite side of the street. Acres of wetland, as well as newly established wildlife habitat, will be filled in and lost because of this construction.
In 2001, when the city recognized the value of the remenant natural areas scattered among the many abandoned brown fields on the Southeast side, it developed the Chicago Land Use Plan for the Calumet area, declaring that nature and industry could coexist side-by-side and that good business development benefited the environment. Perhaps that holds true in a more perfect world, but it has been our experience more often then not, that business trumps nature.
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