Chicago, Illinois — To support the planning, acquisition, and improvement of local parks, natural areas, and recreation resources, ComEd and Openlands today announced grants from the ComEd Green Region Program to 26 recipients throughout northern Illinois. The grantees, which range from local municipalities to park districts and forest preserves, will each receive up to $10,000 to support open space projects.
This marks the sixth year that ComEd is partnering with Openlands, one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation, for the Green Region Program. Due to tremendous interest in pollinator conservation during the 2017 grant cycle, the 2018 ComEd Green Region Program again featured a special focus on projects that help pollinators like butterflies and bees. Illinois is home to thousands of native pollinator species, which provide critical support to our region’s flowering and food plant populations. Since the program’s inception, ComEd has awarded a total of more than $1,125,000 to communities in northern Illinois for environmental projects.
“ComEd is committed to powering a cleaner and brighter future for our customers and communities. By advancing green initiatives through the Green Region Program, we help enable grant recipients to transform their local communities,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd. “Our partnership with Openlands these past six years helps both the environment and helps our customers to enjoy their communities even more.”
ComEd and Openlands share a commitment to supporting communities across the region in their efforts to advance green initiatives. The Green Region partnership is one of the many ways that this commitment is realized. ComEd provides the funding for the program, and Openlands administers the program.
“At Openlands, we believe nature is vital to all people and that everyone should have access to parks, trails, and green space close to home,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “ComEd’s continued support through the Green Region Program has brought this vision to life, allowing communities to invest in open space projects that bring joy to citizens where they live, work, and play.”
Earlier this year, municipalities throughout northern Illinois submitted their grant applications, and an advisory committee composed of county government officials and members of the region’s conservation community reviewed the applications.
Additional information on the ComEd Green Region Program can be found at www.openlands.org/greenregion.
The 26 Green Region grant recipients for 2018 are:
Planting for Pollinators (Arlington Heights Park District): This project will rejuvenate the shores and natural areas of Lake Arlington with vast amounts of showy, colorful wildflowers, soft grasses, and tree canopies, providing enjoyment to park users and increased water quality and habitat to wildlife.
Maple Crest Nursing Home Walking Area (County of Boone): This project will create a walking and exercise area for residents at the Maple Crest Nursing Home. An open space currently exists on Boone County-owned land north of the facility that will be modified with landscaping and prairie grass, complete with a walking path and benches.
Aunt Genevieve Pollinator Habitat (Village of Bradley): This project will support a multi-phase process to establish a pollinator habitat, natural playground, community garden, and nature area in a donated parcel of land in the central part of the Village. It will include raised beds to establish pollinating plants, adding to the community’s green space and ultimately serving as an educational tool for the local community.
Illinois Prairie Path History and Heritage Sign Initiative (County of DuPage – Division of Transportation): This project will install two educational and interactive trail signs. Each sign will highlight major accomplishments of the path’s volunteers who helped inspire America’s rails-to-trails movement, with the goal of reaching future generations of grassroots environmental advocates.
NeighborSpace: El Paseo Community Garden Expansion (Forest Preserve District of Cook County): This project will help to create an interpretive experience within the existing garden and along the proposed rails-to-trails path, El Paseo. The experience will include a permaculture site, prairie expansion, butterfly, bird, and bat houses, and beehives.
Ecological Restoration of Oakdale Nature Preserve (Freeport Park District): This project will remove invasive species from approximately 10 acres of native upland forest communities, which provide habitat for native plant and animal species, including cavity-nesting bird species and bats.
Pollinator Habitat Improvement Along the North Shore Channel (City of Evanston): This project will help establish pollinator habitat in public lands bordering the North Shore Channel: Evanston’s Ladd Arboretum, Harbert Park, and Twiggs Park. It will increase recreational and educational opportunities for the community, while providing critical habitat for birds and other pollinators.
Prairie Park Restoration (Village of Frankfort): This project will remove invasive species and encourage the return of native plants and pollinators. Public involvement will increase the visibility of the project, while educating visitors about the importance of native plants in the Frankfort area.
A Plan for Monarchs and Public Gardens in Glenview (Village of Glenview): This project will create four high-visibility, public monarch butterfly gardens that will expand and connect a growing habitat network throughout the Village of Glenview. In conjunction, a research-based monarch conservation plan and a supportive review of codes and ordinances will be completed with public participation, education, and events.
Pollinators in the Parks (Village of Grant Park): This project will expand butterfly and pollinator garden areas and introduce informational signs about pollinators and a seating bench area to the butterfly garden. It will also provide classes (pre-K to 3rd grade) on pollinators and gardens, as well as jobs for teens to care for planted areas and their pollinator inhabitants.
The Gathering Place (Village of Hainesville): This project will convert a deteriorated prairie into a “Gathering Place.” The Gathering Place will serve as a centrally-located area for residents and the public to observe and appreciate the view of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers designed to attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Brierwood Preserve – A Migratory Monarch Project (Village of Hawthorn Woods): This project will extend the Village’s habitat restoration work to the adjacent public wetland area and connect to a new seven-acre, mono-culture wetland.
Pollinator Support Through Oak Restoration at Irons Oaks (Homewood Flossmoor Park District – Irons Oaks): This project will result in habitat improvement and pollinator protection. It aims to plant and protect young oak trees and educate visitors about the importance of oak forests for pollinator support.
Pilcher Park – Reinvesting in Woodland Ecosystem Management (Joliet Park District): This project will re-establish a 640-acre pollinator habitat, which will begin to heal the woodlands and enable wildflowers, grasses, and sedges to flourish once again.
Limestone Park Pollinator Bioswale (Limestone Township Park District): This project will convert a ditch that drains the Park District’s baseball diamonds into a diverse pollinator bioswale.
Pollinator Habitat and River Landing (Village of Northfield): This project will include the removal of invasive species and the planting of a native pollinator garden along a segment of the Chicago River adjacent to the North Branch Trail. It will improve the area with an ADA-compliant boardwalk and landing, with educational signage to immerse visitors in the pollinator habitat.
Pollinator Meadows at Oak Forest Commuter Train Station (City of Oak Forest): This project will establish pollinator meadows and enhance monarch butterfly habitat near Oak Forest’s commuter train station. Educational signage will serve to inform the public about pollinators and pollinator conservation, as well as provide links to additional resources available online.
Pingree Grove Forest Preserve Park – Butterfly Garden (Village of Pingree Grove): This project will create an inspiring butterfly garden to serve as a gateway entrance to the trailhead of the Pingree Grove Forest Preserve. It will transform the area of open grasslands and wetlands into a colorful oasis of flowers and natural habitat to attract pollinators to the plants and people to the park.
Riverside’s Nature by Design (Village of Riverside): This project will boost Riverside’s natural resources to become a destination for wildlife and wildlife watchers alike.
Riverwoods Village Hall Woodland Restoration Project (Village of Riverwoods): This project will promote the health of woodland pollinators via habitat enhancement and the education of remnant oak woodlands and rare northern flatwoods. The project involves enhancing nearly five acres of old growth oak woodlands and northern flatwoods by removing invasive shrubs and tree saplings.
Leading the Way: Enhancing Suburban Pollinator Habitats (Village of Trout Valley): This project will provide additional pollinator habitat in a heavily-developed suburban site by enhancing the quality of the buffer around an existing natural area. It will also install a monarch waystation that will showcase the benefits of helping pollinators in backyard habitat pockets.
Muingan Park Development (Village of Waterman): This project continues the development of an open lot into a community park. The final phase of development will include additional plantings, a pavilion, a sundial, and educational signs to promote STEM education. It will also resurface the walking path.
Tallgrass Prairie Restoration at Prairie Bluff Preserve (Forest Preserve District of Will County): This project will establish native plants and control invasive plant species. Additionally, the restoration will provide a feeding ground and buffer habitat for the federally-endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly in the adjacent dolomite prairie preserve.
Cedar Cliff Trailhead Pollinator Habitat (Forest Preserves of Winnebago County): This project will remove invasive trees and understory to establish a shortgrass prairie along a small creek. The goal is to improve pollinator habitat, allow visitors to experience native prairie, and improve site aesthetics.
Triangle Park Restoration Project (Woodridge Park District): This project includes 650 linear feet of stream re-meandering and the mowing of a walking spur trail from the existing asphalt path. Additionally, nearly two acres of turf will be converted into native plantings for pollinator habitat, with the construction of a half-acre of native wetland habitat from existing turf.
Ophir Park – Wetland Pollinator Planting Project (Zion Park District): This project will convert a previous playground and turf area into pollinator and naturalized garden space with educational signage and sitting benches. The project will create a more diverse habitat that provides pollinators with the resources they need to thrive.
Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 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, 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, visit www.openlands.org.