Important marsh restored

in Grand Calumet River

A $52 million project cleaned up part of the Grand Calumet River and restored the 25-acre Roxana Marsh.


The Roxana Marsh is an integral part of the West Branch of the Grand Calumet River. Prior to the 1960s, the 25-acre marsh attracted numerous species of fish and birds, provided flood control and filtered some pollutants out of the river. That changed as decades of pollution from nearby industries and cities poisoned the marsh with heavy metals and toxic chemicals and choked it with excessive sediment, which was then colonized by the invasive reed Phragmites. Those changes left the marsh and the adjoining stretch of river devoid of all aquatic life. In the early 1990s, government agencies began laying the groundwork for the Grand Calumet River cleanup and restoration of Roxana Marsh. The project is part of a larger effort to remove the most contaminated sediment from Great Lakes harbors and tributaries and restore marshes and coastal wetlands that provide important habitat for fish and wildlife. In 2011, crews dredged the top two feet of river bottom and removed 252,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in and around Roxana Marsh. Workers capped another 345,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment that remained on the river bottom. Related cleanups have resulted in the removal and capping of nearly 730,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in the Grand Calumet River. The entire Grand Calumet River cleanup will cost about $100 million.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Poor water quality
  • Contaminated sediments
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


Turtles on a log

Wildlife, like these turtles, are returning to parts of the Grand Calumet. Credit: Courtney Celley U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Results and Accomplishments

Crews removed nearly 252,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in a stretch of the Grand Calumet River and restored 25 acres of wetlands in the Roxana Marsh. Fish and birds have already returned to the restored marsh, which is a critical part of the river’s ecosystem.