Metra works with community to plant native species at Peterson/Ridge

Publication Date
Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Metra partnered with local conservation groups and environmental experts to establish a landscape featuring exclusively native perennial plants at its newly opened Peterson/Ridge Station in the Edgewater community on the UP North Line. The station was officially dedicated today.

Native plants are vital natural resources in regional and local ecosystems, providing habitat and food for native wildlife, improving soil health, preventing soil erosion, and capturing atmospheric carbon while requiring fewer inputs (like water and fertilizer) for maintenance once they are established. By choosing indigenous flora, Metra is fostering more ecologically valuable and climate-resilient landscapes that contribute to the overall well-being of the community, for pollinators and people alike.

Not only are all the plantings true native species, the community partners also prioritized selecting a diversity of plant types, including oak trees, shrubs, flowering plants, and prairie grasses. Dr. Doug Tallamy, a renowned entomologist and author, emphasizes the critical role of keystone plants in supporting local ecosystems. “These plants act as the ‘keystone’ in the food web, much like the central stone in a Roman arch.” For example, as a host plant, an oak tree can support over 400 pieces of beneficial pollinator insects and other wildlife.

The 40th Ward office of Ald. Andre Vasquez and Good City collaborated to convene all the interested parties, including the Edgewater Environmental Coalition, members of the 40th Ward Chapter of Openlands TreeKeepers, local environmental activists and the Horst and Ann Wagener WEAR Garden, which has a Union Pacific Railroad beautification lease adjacent to the new Metra station.

"We were thrilled to partner with Metra and the community to make the new Peterson/Ridge Station an even better and more sustainable addition to the 40th Ward,” Vasquez said. “Native plants not only make our neighborhoods more beautiful; they also play a crucial role in supporting local biodiversity and ecosystem health. The success of this partnership shows the kind of positive impact we can have on our environment when we work together as a community. We hope to see other transit and government agencies embrace this project as a model as we work toward creating a more sustainable and livable City.”

Species included in the Peterson/Ridge station: burr oak, Chicagoland hackberry, river birch, Kentucky coffee: straight species, swamp white oak, Allegheny serviceberry, black chokeberry, oakleaf hydrangea, ninebark, fragrant sumac, blue flag iris, blue wild indigo, lance leaf sage, red switch grass, Virginia creeper, little bluestem, swamp milkweed, purple prairie clover, side oats grama, Pennsylvania sedge, prairie onion, heather aster, crooked stem aster, and coreopsis.

About Good City Group:
Formed in March 2013, the Good City Group came together around the idea of how the “good city” can inform our roles as civic innovators who care deeply about Chicago’s future. The group was born out of a collective desire for cross-disciplinary, experimental proposals that affect our everyday experiences. We explore inventive, equitable approaches to placemaking, urban design, and environmental justice at the hyper-local scale that can have a big impact for residents.