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GLIN==> Lake Michigan Federation Urges Nature Park Instead of Meigs Field

Lake Michigan Federation: Nature Sanctuary Should Replace Meigs Field

Environmental Advocates Take Plan to Chicago Park District - Positions 
Chicago as Leader in Urban Coastal Preservation

CHICAGO, IL - Lake Michigan Federation presented its recommendations for the 
conversion of Meigs Field airport into a nature preserve to the Chicago Park 
District (CPD) today during a meeting with Superintendent David Doig. The 
Federation's plan comes almost exactly one year to the day Meigs Field is 
scheduled to close and represents the first new ideas for conversion brought 
forward since 1996.

The Federation's plan for the peninsula, "A Vision for Sanctuary Point" is 
one of the most far-reaching visions for an urban lakefront in the country 
and calls for the creation of what may be the nation's first lakefront nature 
museum.  The plan will reintroduce plants, wetlands and prairies familiar to 
the ecosystems that existed along the waterfront before Chicago was settled, 
as well as small harbors, dune ridges and woodlands.  Sanctuary Point builds 
on the 1909 Plan of Chicago, which called for the Lake Michigan shore to be  
"…a haven- an urban sanctuary- for people and nature." 

"Chicago can show the world that nature can thrive in a world-class city," 
said Carrie Davis, co-chair of the Lakefront Task Force, the Federation's 
volunteer group that has worked over the last six months to create the 
Sanctuary Point plan.  "The plan builds on Mayor Daley's 1996 plan to 
establish Chicago's prominence as the leading waterfront nature city on the 
The Federation plan offers some important new innovations. With the Mayor's 
signing of the Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds and CPD's 
endorsement of the 1999 Chicago Wilderness Biodiversity Recovery Plan, the 
City has become more focused on its need to protect and enhance our natural 
environment. Sanctuary Point addresses these needs by calling for an outdoor 
nature museum, with a shoreline prairie and high quality wetland habitat that 
attracts a diversity of fish, birds and other wildlife to spawn, nest and 
forage, while requiring little ongoing maintenance. Its focus on habitat also 
creates a key stopover point in the international migratory bird flyway that 
runs through the Chicago region.

"What's good for fish and wildlife is good for people," said Task Force 
co-chair Denise Marx.  "Urban habitat is an increasingly popular attraction 
and it makes good economic sense.  We want to offer our assistance to the 
Chicago Park District as they convert Meigs Field to public space a year from 

By creating a natural environment, Sanctuary Point will be the ideal "real 
life environmental laboratory" for use by the city's museum campus that 
surrounds the peninsula.  

"Bringing waterfront nature back in this exact spot- Sanctuary Point- makes 
perfect sense because it gives children and adults the opportunity to extend 
the reach of Museum Campus," said Cameron Davis, the Federation's executive 
director.   "Visitors can learn about natural history outdoors.  To 
supplement what they learn about exotic fish from other parts of the world 
inside the museums, we've created a plan where people can snorkel and see 
native fish in Lake Michigan as a real-life aquarium." 

The planned 2002 Meigs Field closing is the result of an agreement reached by 
the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois in 1997, which averted an 
immediate takeover of Meigs Field by the State.  The agreement allowed for 
Meigs to reopen for five years and permanently enjoined the state from 
interfering with Meigs closure after the five-year period, which officially 
ends on February 10, 2002.

The Lake Michigan Federation works to restore fish and wildlife habitat, 
conserve land and water and eliminate toxins in the watershed of the largest 
lake within the United States.  It works to achieve this through education, 
research, law, science, and economic and strategic partnerships.  The 
Federation's volunteer Lakefront Task Force is dedicated to restoring habitat 
for fish and wildlife, ensuring clean water, and securing ample public access 
along Illinois's Lake Michigan beaches and shoreline.

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