Friends of the Chicago River

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The Natural Solutions Tool is a user-friendly mapping portal developed with local data by local experts, with 84 customizable public health, biodiversity, stormwater, equity, and connectivity GIS layers for nearly 1.5 million parcels in 176 communities that cover the Chicago River, Calumet River, and Des Plaines River watersheds. Its purpose is to focus strategic investments on nature-based green infrastructure, prioritize communities of greatest need, and reveal opportunities across a broad regional watershed where the power of nature can be employed to capture stormwater and improve community and environmental health. The Natural Solutions Tool allows everyone from government decision makers to community advocates to explore analysis results at the regional, municipal, and parcel scales as well as to export parcel and study area reports that can be used to substantiate projects and protect communities. The Natural Solutions Tool emerged from a vision for more strategic and collaborative watershed-wide investments in multi-beneficial nature-based solutions set by the Greater Chicago Watershed Alliance, a coalition launched by Friends of the Chicago River in 2020. Friends of the Chicago River led the creation of the Tool with the Trust for Public Land, and input from dozens of scientists, community members and advocates, public health authorities, government agencies, stormwater professionals, planners, and other experts. The Natural Solutions Tool provides a novel lens through which to understand combined solutions to seemingly disparate urban planning challenges, such as asthma, basement flooding, and biodiversity loss.