Canal Shores Road Would 'Negatively Impact Critical Habitat,' Friends Tells MWRD Board

Canal Shores Golf Course near Wilmette is sounding the alarm to stop a road from being built on its site. The project, if approved by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago board, would "permanently harm Canal Shores' most ecologically sensitive area, which includes multiple century-old oak trees and three wetlands," the club directors say. "One of the wetlands would be paved over."

The golf club's directors are urging people to object to the Isabella Woods access road through its "Don't Pave 10" web site at

Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie said the road "would negatively impact a critical habitat area along the Chicago River" and has sent a letter to MWRD board members urging rejection of the easement request.

Here is a copy of the letter:

On behalf of Friends of the Chicago River’s board, staff, and 6,000 members, volunteers, and online advocates, I am writing to express our deep concern regarding the potential easement through Isabella Woods which is located on an MWRD-leased property because it would negatively impact a critical habitat area along the Chicago River.

A private developer is seeking an easement to construct a paved access road through MWRD property between Isabella St and Maple Ave, just east of the CTA Purple Line rail tracks in Wilmette. The easement would run through land that is currently leased to the Wilmette Park District and Canal Shores Golf Course. An access road at this site would damage important public open space that the MWRD has a duty to protect.

The parcel of land that would be impacted is a relatively untouched remnant oak forest containing multiple wetlands. This oak forest is adjacent to the North Shore Channel, an important wildlife corridor that supports a diverse array of species including beavers, turtles, and state endangered black crowned night herons. The proposed easement would run through this corridor, permanently harming the most ecologically sensitive area in Canal Shores Golf Course. Not only that, it would reduce valuable green space that has been estimated to absorb about 110,000 gallons of stormwater annually.

Beyond the ecological benefits from this open parcel, the Canal Shores Gulf Course is also an important community asset, providing recreation opportunities for golfing, dog-walking, bird watching, and other activities. This past year, Friends of the Chicago River recognized the outstanding stewardship of the land on the part of the golf course by honoring their Ecological Restoration Master Plan with our Chicago River Blue award, demonstrating that this stretch of land provides a benefit to the entire community.

The MWRD Board of Commissioners has previously rejected a request for an easement to this parcel. As stewards of the public land, it is your duty to weigh the benefits of individual projects against the greater good. This project would benefit a single developer financially, while damaging an important community asset and negatively affecting the area’s capacity to absorb and filter stormwater. We urge the Commissioners to follow the precedent set by your previous vote to deny an easement for an access road to this parcel and protect the land for the public good.


Margaret Frisbie, Executive Director, Friends of the Chicago River