23 Northern Illinois Communities Awarded Environmental Grants from ComEd, Openlands
To support habitats and other open-space projects, particularly those that help mitigate impacts of climate change, ComEd and Openlands today announced grants to 23 public agencies through the annual ComEd Green Region Program. Grantees each receive a one-time grant of up to $10,000 to support and improve natural areas in northern Illinois communities that are crucial to the quality of residents' lives. These grants will fund a variety of projects, including those that focus on enhancing pollinator habitats and protecting certain species, such as butterflies and bees.
"ComEd understands that it is critical for residents to have access to cleaner and more sustainable public spaces. We also recognize the economic challenges faced by communities to maintain these natural spaces and make them available to the public," said Melissa Washington, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd. "We're proud to work with organizations like Openlands, which has a deep understanding of these needs, whether they are effective pollinator projects or plans that support climate resilience to benefit the people we're privileged to serve."
This marks the ninth year that ComEd is partnering with Openlands. Since the inception of the Green Region Program in 2013, ComEd has awarded more than $1.5 million to municipalities across northern Illinois. This support has helped fund over 200 open-space projects, as well as restore and protect approximately 1,000 acres of land. ComEd provides the funding for the Green Region Program, and Openlands, one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation, administers the grants to local communities.
"Climate change is here, and it is vitally important that we invest in nature-based solutions that will help mitigate the most severe effects. This includes protecting biodiversity, especially of pollinators," said Jerry Adelmann, president and CEO of Openlands. "We are grateful to ComEd for their partnership, and the municipal partners that will complete these innovative projects, protecting and restoring land and educating and engaging communities."
Details of the ComEd Green Region Program can be found at Openlands.org/GreenRegion.
The 23 ComEd Green Region Program grant recipients for 2021 are:
Habitat Creation at Funderburg South Conservation Area (Boone County Conservation District): This project will create 20 acres of high-quality wet and mesic grassland within the Funderburg South Conservation Area. The area will be converted from conventional agriculture into high-quality native habitat in the winter of 2021-2022.
Interpretive Arboretum Trail (Bourbonnais Township Park District): This project will create an interpretive trail with an arboretum and bioswale made up of climate resilient trees and flowers that will provide food and habitat for pollinators.
Plant Green Lake Park (Buffalo Grove Park District): This project comprises four native planting projects that will complete redevelopment of Green Lake Park. Collectively, the projects will support pollinators across their life cycle and connect them to nearby waystations and habitats.
Public and Private Pollinator Garden Network (City of Countryside): This project will plan and provide the means to create a network of both small, privately owned and large, publicly owned butterfly and pollinator gardens throughout the Countryside community.
Downtown Freeport Pocket Park (City of Freeport): This project will support the creation of the Downtown Pocket Park by transforming the space of two condemned buildings into a useable amenity that enhances the pedestrian experience while greening the downtown area and providing a new habitat for pollinators. The park will have an ADA-accessible patio with seating, and an open lawn surrounded by flower beds containing pollinator plants.
Riverwood Forest Preerve Prairie Pollinator Conservation Project (DeKalb County Forest Preserve District): This project will convert turf grass fairways of a former golf course into prairie pollinator conservation areas on approximately 10 acres along the south branch of the Kishwaukee River.
Get to Know the Prairie (Dixon Park District): This project will create a prairie observation deck with kiosks to help educate the community on and ultimately create a deeper appreciation for the importance of pollinators and the role of deep-rooted prairie plants.
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden Bioretention Basin (Forest Preserves of Winnebago County): This project will demonstrate climate change resiliency through the installation of a bioretention basin to reduce the impacts of stormwater at the arboretum and botanic garden located in Rockford, Ill.
Windham Cove Pollinator Habitat Restoration Project (McHenry County Division of Transportation (MCDOT)): This project will establish a pollinator habitat on an underutilized 1.7-acre grass parcel that will benefit residents in the immediate area, including students at a nearby high school who can learn about the project through educational site signage.
Lake Park Estates Beautification Project (Palatine Township Road District): This project will improve and maintain greenspace which is a naturally common area for residents. Currently, buckthorn is crowding out pollinator-friendly plants and invasive water species impacting wildlife by suffocating the pond.
Pollinator Enhancement and Stabilization of Walker Park Tributary A to Flagg Creek (Pleasant Dale Park District): This project will improve Walker Park through the creation of a streambank naturalization and pollinator habitat along a highly visible section of Tributary A to Flagg Creek. The project is centrally located in a recreational facility and is accessible to pedestrians and small-motor vehicles.
Pollinator Boardwalk for the Prospect Heights Slough (Prospect Heights Park District): This project will create a 450-foot-long boardwalk to increase educational and recreational access to a beloved wetland during its muddiest of conditions. It will also create a premium pollinator habitat by restoring a wetland and mitigate climate change for its vital inhabitants.
Prairie Grove Community Center Complex (The Village of Prairie Grove): This project contributes to an ongoing green initiative to complete a walking trail accented by native and carbon-reducing trees and shrubs to create a beautiful, tranquil and environmentally positive landmark for residents.
Waukegan Road to North Branch Restoration Project (Village of Bannockburn): This project will help control invasive species growth by establishing native plants and maintaining stormwater infiltration. This project also will help reduce erosion and siltation, enhance air and water quality and improve native habitat.
Prairie Path Lighting & Path Enhancements Project (Village of Berkeley): This project will provide aesthetic upgrades for residents and users of Berkeley Park's Prairie Path, including the creation of rest areas to enjoy the perennial pollinator gardens, which consist of eight different species of native plants that will help to attract bees, butterflies and birds.
Public Works Rain Garden and Natural Areas (Village of Downers Grove): This project will help convert turf grass at Public Works into rain gardens and natural areas. The goal is to promote long-term, community-based conservation initiatives using native plants and high-visibility educational signage. The living exhibit is also designed to educate and inspire residents to create similar environs in their own yards.
Children's Garden Expansion and Multi-Use Learning Center (Village of Elwood): This project will expand and enhance the experience for residents and visitors who visit and use the garden's 1,000 square feet of plantings, 350 feet of walkway, wayfinding signs and multiple learning opportunities.
Pollinator Haven (Village of Grant Park): This project will renovate an existing gazebo, add a fountain, pollinator garden and signage within the pollinator haven.
Flint Creek Corridor Restoration (Village of Lake Barrington): This project will increase native habitat for local fauna while providing a native buffer to filter pollutants and guard against erosion during large storm events. The project will also expand the current restoration work being performed on five acres of floodplain.
Rockland Road Wetland Rehabilitation, Enhancement and Pollinator Habitat Project (Village of Lake Bluff): This project will rehabilitate 10 acres of high-profile hardwood savanna and wetland habitat along an important village corridor by transforming and beautifying a buckthorn thicket into a high-quality habitat for pollinators.
Montgomery Park Shoreline Enhancement and Naturalization Project (Village of Montgomery): This project will improve the shoreline along the Fox River at Montgomery Park by restoring an important natural asset, establishing a high-quality wildlife habitat and stabilizing the riverbank to reduce erosion and filter nutrients from stormwater runoff. These improvements will create a beautiful, naturalized riverfront area for visitors who use the park's walking trails.
Riverfront Park Council Ring & Pollinator Habitat (Village of Plainfield): This project includes the construction of a council ring and pollinator habitat at Plainfield's Riverfront Park. The council ring will serve as a place for trail users to rest, relax and commune with nature, as well as a gathering location for participants of pollinator education and other community programs.
Victory Park Pollinator Rain Garden (Waukegan Park District): This project will create an ecologically rich and aesthetically pleasing pollinator rain garden. Its location, adjacent to Vista Medical Center and Lake Michigan, ensures high public visibility and ecological significance. It also nicely complements a Healing Garden that will be used by the medical center.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers - the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population. For more information visit ComEd.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation's oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit openlands.org.