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What is the West Ridge Nature Preserve?

Who knew such a jewel, undeveloped for 100 years, existed close to the busy intersection of Peterson and Western Avenues? Local residents have long seen it as a secret wilderness, that's who. They slipped in and out of the 20 acres of woods surrounding a 4-acre pond to watch hawks, herons and fox, spotting the occasional wood duck or coyote.

A decade ago plans were in the works to convert this wilderness into a retail area. In 2005, a congressional earmark funded the acquisition of this land from Rosehill Cemetery. The acquired land was transferred to the Chicago Park District in 2011. The park district's renovation has transformed this wilderness into the West Ridge Nature Preserve, an oasis of native flora and fauna.

The Mayor's Nature and Wildlife Advisory Committee declared "The site is important both for the conservation of biodiversity, in particular native birds, and also as a place for urban residents to experience nature. The nature preserve is truly special for the feeling it gives of a sanctuary from the busyness of city life".

As you follow the gently curving paths, you experience a complete ecosystem. While the pond dominates the landscape, you also walk by wetlands and savannas and through an oak woodland.

We are grateful to President Barack Obama, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Patrick O'Connor for preserving this special place for Chicagoans.

Be Responsible, Respectful Stewards

Please, to protect new plantings and encourage migrating birds to return, stay on the paths and leave your dogs at home. The Chicago Park District signs in the preserve clearly state these official preserve rules.

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