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Loyola Beach's New Native Grass Attracts Birds, Stymies Sand Erosion

 Dozens of people turned out to help plant nearly 30,000 chunks of native grass at Loyola Beach in 2012.
Loyola Beach Erosion
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ROGERS PARK — In 2012, volunteers planted 30,000 chunks of Marram grass along Loyola Beach — and another 9,000 in 2013.

This summer, the grass is thriving in its native habitat.

"The plantings both years have been really successful," said resident John Lamping, who holds a doctorate in ecology and helped the Chicago Park District plant the grass.

The grass has taken root along the edge of the beach near the park's athletic field and also in a dense patch between the park's playground equipment and restrooms, which had been loose, flowing dunes before.

Ben Woodard discusses Rogers Park's gem — the beaches — and how new grass is helping keep the surrounding area sand-free:

The hope was to help prevent strong winds from blowing the sand into the parking lots, pathways and fields near the park's field house, at 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.

Jason Steger, who works for the Chicago Park District and organized the effort, said in a statement that the project appears to be a success.

"Initial observations have shown that the native grasses are helping to prevent blowing sand from reaching adjacent park areas," he said.

The same technique was used at 12th Street Beach near Northerly Island's First Merit Bank Pavilion.

But residents, like Lamping, say the grass has benefited the park in other ways, too.

"It's been attracting birds. It's educational. Children classes have been going out there," he said. "There's a very strong educational benefit being derived from it."

Lamping lives near the beach and helped establish the protected dune grass on the north side of Pratt Pier.

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