Natural Solutions Tool

The Chicago-Calumet River Watershed Council has launched a process to co-create a multi-benefit green infrastructure project prioritization tool, called the Natural Solutions Tool, to help guide the work of the Watershed Council partnership. 

A video overview of this project and a demonstration of how it works can be viewed here.

The Natural Solutions Tool creation process is being administered by Friends of the Chicago River in partnership with The Trust for Public Land’s Climate-Smart Cities program. This type of tool has been successful implemented in 14 other U.S. metro areas and has become a resource for decision makers to implement strategic green infrastructure projects. Examples of completed similar tools include Los Angeles, Boston, and Camden, NJ

More information about the tool creation process can be found here. 

The highly collaborative tool creation process will occur over the course of roughly one year including:

  1. A discovery process to identify relevant data sources and complimentary research efforts.
  2. Filling in data gaps through expanded Watershed Council research partnerships. 
  3. Developing a publicly accessible decision-support tool with a website and multi-benefit framework to coordinate project investments which deliver maximum co-benefits.
  4. Using the tool to shape innovative and impactful pilot projects through the Watershed Council collaboration.
  5. Using the data and pilot projects as implementation examples to seek increased funding at the local, regional, and federal level.

Image of Caroline O’Boyle, Chicago Program Director for the Trust for Public Land and Adam Flickinger from Friends staff launching the project with the Watershed Council in October of 2021.

In addition to the tool creation, the Watershed Council has identified a coinciding catalytic multi-benefit ecosystem restoration project at Indian Ridge Marsh-South in partnership with the Chicago Park District. Learn more about this Watershed Council pilot project here