Our Blue-Green Corridor Approach

The blue-green corridor is an innovative approach used in cities throughout the globe to tie decision making for waterways to those made for surrounding lands. It is also a method for waterways management that recognizes how our human health and wellness is dependent on natural and ecosystem services.

Friends of the Chicago River embraces this pioneering approach, and has integrated our Blue-Green Corridor Vision into our advocacy, policy, and planning initiatives. To us, the blue-green corridor is a framework that recognizes the potential of the Chicago-Calumet River system to increase resiliency; quality of life; public health; biodiversity; and many other environmental, economic, and social co-benefits.

A successful blue-green corridor is a connected network of healthy neighborhoods, green infrastructure, public trails, open space, recreational areas, and wildlife habitat. 

This multi-faceted approach is crucially important today as we face the complex effects of climate change.

Image showing Mill Creek reconnection project after completion of restoration.Image showing Mill Creek reconnection project after completion of restoration.

Many of our core policy and planning projects support the implementation of the Blue-Green Corridor Vision, including:

  • Public Lands Assessment:  In 2019, in partnership with Arcadis Inc., we completed a land character analysis for the areas within a half mile on both sides of the river corridor. The results have been extremely helpful establishing a broader understanding of the Chicago-Calumet River system. 

  • Return on Investment Study: In partnership with the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, we completed an economic analysis of the benefits of the investments in the blue-green corridor. The key finding was that for every $1 spent, we received $1.75 in returned economic growth. 

  • Greater Chicago Watershed Alliance: Launched in 2020, the Watershed Alliance initiative is focused on expanding regional collaboration on multi-benefit green infrastructure projects. 

  • Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Action Plan: This initiative aims to identify specific projects, strategies, and opportunities to enhance the role of the Chicago-Calumet River system as connected habitat network.


Image of Cal-Sag Trail near Mill Creek confluence.Image of Cal-Sag Trail near Mill Creek confluence.