CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Coastal Management Program today announced more than $1 million in grants for local coastal education, recreation, water quality protection and habitat restoration projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline. These projects are federally funded through Illinois’ partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Zone Management Program.
The IDNR Coastal Management Program is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the environmental, economic, and social value of Illinois’ Great Lakes coast. The program fosters healthy ecosystems and resilient communities by providing expertise, funding, and other resources that:
• Engage and connect communities with the Lake Michigan coastal region;
• Enhance coastal stewardship;
• Promote balanced use; and,
• Improve coordination between agencies, communities and other partners.
“These projects will empower communities, educational institutions, non-profits, and park and forest preserve districts to improve our coastal resources and engage local youth and adults in protecting and enjoying Lake Michigan,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “The Coastal Management Grant Program is an investment in the future through which we will all benefit.”
• Active Transportation Alliance – Lake Calumet Trail Connection Feasibility Study; $55,000
Lake Calumet is a physical barrier between the Pullman National Monument, Big Marsh Park, and other destinations to the east. Improved pedestrian and bicycle access across the lake would connect these two destinations, while also opening up new access and recreational opportunities along Lake Calumet itself. As an initial step in developing a Lake Calumet to Pullman Trail connection, a feasibility study will be conducted to assess existing conditions, project objectives, design criteria, public input, potential alignments, and cost.
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago – Fishing and Wildlife Education Program; $10,000
The Fishing and Wildlife Education Program provides an urban summer fishing recreation experience to approximately 800 underserved youth between the ages of 5 and 18 at Palmisano Park in the Bridgeport community. The project involves busing youth from Boys and Girls Clubs across the city to the Valentine Boys and Girls Club in the Bridgeport community to participate in recreational fishing, conservation, and wildlife activities.
• Chicago Academy of Sciences – Expanding Citizen Science in the Calumet Region; $10,000
As a program of the Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (CAS/PNNM), this project will enhance citizen science activities in the Calumet region by coordinating the activities of CAS/PNNM’s existing citizen science programs. Through a combination of survey route mapping and recruiting activities, investigators will map a minimum of 10 new surveys. This will allow citizen scientists to submit data, and will allow landowners to download submitted data. The team will hold two recruitment events per program and five outreach events to disseminate results on implications for the region’s biodiversity.
• Chicago Adventure Therapy, NFP – Youth-Led Community Outreach; $ 18,633
Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) works with underserved youth in Chicago. Many of these young people have never seen Lake Michigan. This project will provide coach training for youth already involved in paddlesports like kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding, many of whom have expressed a desire to take the sport back to their communities.
• Chicago Park District – Enhancing Native Habitat Along the Calumet River at SEPA Station #1; $ 93,982
Chicago Park District’s natural areas restoration crew, with assistance from a contractor, will establish 10.3 acres of native woodland and wetland habitat at SEPA Station #1 in Southeast Chicago. SEPA Station #1 is a Side-stream Elevated Pool Aeration system, which utilizes vertical propeller pumps and waterfalls to increase and maintain the dissolved oxygen concentration of the water the Calumet River-Main Channel waterway.
• Chicago Public Schools – Calumet Is My Back Yard; $97,035
Calumet Is My Back Yard (CIMBY), established in 1998, is an environmental education and service-learning program operated through Chicago Public Schools in partnership with The Field Museum and The Dunes Learning Center. This project will build on CIMBY’s success to implement the Jackson Park Expansion (JPE). This will strengthen the capacity of CPS high school biology teachers in the district to implement classroom-integrated environmental service-learning projects specifically connected to coastal habitat restoration.
• City of Evanston – Evanston Ecology Center’s Canoe Launch Feasibility Study for the North Shore Channel; $15,000
The City of Evanston and Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) will conduct a feasibility study to determine if constructing a public access canoe launch in the North Shore Channel is a viable project. The existing wooden canoe launch is unusable due to erosion and decay; the embankment leading to the canoe launch is difficult to traverse. If the city determines the project is feasible, it will proceed with it. A new canoe launch will serve moe than 500 summer camp participants, provide public canoe programming to more than 800 people yearly, and deliver opportunities for 12 Evanston Township High School classes to canoe twice yearly.
• Dunes Learning Center – 2019 Mighty Acorns Nature Camp for students from Illinois Coastal Zone; $10,000
Mighty Acorns is a school-year outreach education program that connects urban youth in the Illinois and Indiana coastal region with their local ecosystems. To extend and reinforce school-year lessons, Dunes Learning Center hosts two week-long sessions of Mighty Acorns Nature Camp in the summer. All current Mighty Acorns are invited to trade screen time for green time and experience a week of overnight camp for a significantly reduced rate.
• Faith in Place – Migration & Me Program – Lake County; $27,000
Faith in Place will continue to implement its Migration & Me Program – Lake County, a program that connects people of faith in economically challenged Lake County communities with nature through stories of personal journeys. The program focuses on engaging young and adult people of faith in caring for the Lake County coastal region through stewardship, and offering educational sessions to the community on environmental degradation and its impact on human life and the community.
• Field Museum of Natural History – Activating Beubian Woods; $90,000
The Activating Beaubien Woods project will strengthen connections between local community members and Beaubien Woods Forest Preserve on Chicago’s far South Side. Community surveys and planning identified a need and desire for park activation, environmental education and recreational opportunities, and creation of a welcoming gathering space in nature. The project brings together community members and technical experts in a participatory process to develop a culturally relevant design for a gathering space and programming at Beaubien Woods. The program will lead environmental education opportunities for youth and community members, and it will develop interpretive tools to help highlight local heritage stories.
• Forest Preserve District of Cook County – Beaubien Woods: Conservation and Youth Outdoor Ambassador Crew; $100,000
The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) will engage young people in restoration and activation of Beaubien Woods by creating the Beaubien Woods Conservation and Youth Outdoor Ambassador Crew. This crew merges two successful FPCC youth programs: The Conservation Corps’ Forest Preserve Experience and Youth Outdoor Ambassadors. FPCC will work with Friends of the Forest Preserves to hire 10 high school youth from the communities near Beaubien Woods to conduct restoration, public engagement and recreation activities.
• Forest Preserve District of Cook County – Wetland Restoration in the Calumet Region; $50,000
The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) will improve coastal wetlands at Burnham Prairie Nature Preserve and Eggers Grove through invasive species control and a large-scale wetland plug planting. The project will also foster connections between neighboring communities and the preserves through a series of bird walks led by the Wild Indigo Nature Exploration Program.
• Friends of the Forest Preserves – Building Friends of the Little Calumet River; $25,000
Building Friends of the Little Calumet will introduce people from under-resourced communities neighboring the Little Calumet River to ways they can benefit from coastal resources near their homes. In partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and local leaders, this project will expand the number of people who use and care for the preserves. Friends of the Forest Preserves will conduct audience research and consult with local volunteers in order to inform the development of culturally relevant recreation events at Whistler Woods.
• Friends of the Parks – Nature Along the Lake; $43,250
The overall goal of Friends of the Parks’ (FOTP) Nature Along the Lake (NAL) is to teach children science and provide natural learning experiences in park settings. This inspires youth to be active stewards of our coastal natural resources and to make a positive contribution to the planet. The program is an environmental education program that engages K-8 children in Chicago with the Illinois coast in their own communities. The youth develop skills, knowledge, and the ability to make well-informed choices concerning our coast.
• IPM Institute of North America, Inc. – Midwest Grows Green Lawn & Land Forum Toolkit; $61,318
The IPM Institute started the Midwest Grows Green Lawn & Land Forum in 2016 to share practical, vetted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and natural lawn care (NLC) information and foster peer-to-peer learning of best practices that reduce synthetic lawn pesticide and fertilizer use in communities. The IPM Institute will integrate information from previous forum sessions into a formulated and streamlined draft toolkit. The project will scale previous forum successes to reach more policymakers and practitioners, initiate actionable discussions of IPM and NLC, and implement those policies or action plans.
• Lake County Forest Preserve District – Conserving Coastal Habitat and Native Species in the Illinois Lake Plain; $82,000
The Illinois Lake Plain is a unique coastal dune and swale system comprised of diverse community types, including regionally significant wet prairies, dunes, sand savannas, beach, and dry sand prairies, providing habitat for more than 400 plant and 250 animal species (55 of which are state-listed threatened or endangered species and five of which are federally-listed). This project expands upon 10 years of successful partnership by public and private landowners to improve high-quality natural areas through removal and chemical treatment of pervasive and disruptive invasive species.
• National Audubon Society – Wild Indigo Building Community Leadership around Wetlands and Lakeshore Conservation; $89,120
Audubon Great Lakes’ (AGL) Wild Indigo Nature Explorations program will build community awareness and support for wetlands and lakeshore habitats in two coastal communities: Chicago’s Southeast side and Waukegan/North Chicago. This project will develop events for a multi-generational audience that, via community science, recreation, and stewardship, will foster a deeper connection to coastal natural habitats. AGL will establish a monitoring program of Calumet wetlands and develop ambassadors who will advocate for healthy watersheds.