CHICAGO, IL – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin joined state and local officials and organizations in Chicago to announce 12 new Millennium Reserve conservation projects that will further the mission of transforming the Calumet Region of Chicago into a one-of-a-kind public destination that protects and enhances natural ecosystems, supports healthy and prosperous communities, and stimulates vigorous and diverse economic growth.
The Millennium Reserve: Calumet Core is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to reconnect Americans, especially children, to the nation’s rich outdoor treasures; build upon public and private priorities for conservation and recreation lands; and use science-based management practices to restore and protect our lands and waters for future generations.
“One of the major goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative is to work with states, local communities and other partners to establish a network of great urban parks that will help expand outdoor opportunities in and around cities,” Salazar said. “Today we are helping to achieve this goal right in the heart of Chicago, restoring native habitat while also creating new opportunities for millions of Americans to enjoy the great outdoors.”
The 12 model projects announced today represent the scope and depth of Millennium Reserve, from small in scope and geography to large-scale and complex. In all cases, the projects have strategic goals and outcomes that align with the Millennium Reserve vision.
Senator Dick Durbin said: “I am pleased to announce that $1 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal Zone Management program will be used to restore 15 miles of Lake Michigan's shoreline as part of this important project. The Millennium Reserve brings together resources from all levels of government to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation program that will serve as a lasting gift to future generations of Chicagoans. It will promote economic growth and enable the city's residents to enjoy all Chicago has to offer. When President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, I believe these were the exact type of projects he had in mind.”
"U.S. EPA is pleased to join Governor Quinn and Secretary Salazar in helping to revive the natural wonders of the long-neglected Lake Calumet ecosystem. We're leveraging President Obama's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to make a difference here so people can reconnect with Lake Michigan and natural areas closer to home," said Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
The Millennium Reserve: Calumet Core initiative is built upon strong partnerships, community planning and the work of active citizens and organizations who have sought to transform an economically challenged industrial region into a re-envisioned community landscape that is economically, environmentally and culturally vital to the region.
“When Governor Quinn first announced the Millennium Reserve initiative last December, we recognized a vision built on previous community efforts for what this area could be with hard work and strong partnerships,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller. “This first round of model projects announced today are tangible results that define the potential of the Millennium Reserve. They represent real actions that will improve the local economy, community and the environment.”
“As the largest holder of public natural lands within the Millennium Reserve, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is entrusted with the preservation of some of the Chicago Southland’s most critical natural areas,” said Forest Preserve District of Cook County General Superintendent Arnold Randall. “These are places of remarkable biological diversity and beauty, but they need coordinated efforts from engaged partners to ensure that they will continue to be a resource for coming generations.”
The 12 model projects being announced today are listed below:
• Blue Island Rain Barrel Initiative, City of Blue Island and Metropolitan Planning Council. Installation of 200 rain barrels to address storm water issues in Northeast Blue Island, with the assistance of volunteers and workforce training program participants.
• Burnham Prairie Restoration, US Army Corps of Engineers. Restoration of 93 acres of wetlands on Forest Preserve District of Cook County property, creating jobs and enhancing the hydrological and ecological integrity of the site.
• Burnham Wildlife Corridor, Chicago Park District. Conversion of 60 acres of parkland into wildlife habitat through native tree planting and habitat restoration.
• Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps, Friends of the Forest Preserves. Invasive species removal on 227-acres across four Forest Preserves, employing local residents who receive conservation training.
• Calumet Water Trails Brochure, Openlands. Brochure with detailed maps and information on water trails in the Calumet region, promoting ecotourism, local business, and recreation safety.
• Greencorps Chicago, City of Chicago. Green job training and invasive species control at 15 sites, benefitting both the local ecosystem and local economy by hiring and training individuals with barriers to employment.
• Midlothian Creek Green Infrastructure Plan, Chicago Wilderness and partners (see website). Mapping project to identify green infrastructure elements and create a strategic plan for communities in the Midlothian Creek watershed, including Blue Island, Midlothian, and Robbins.
• Mighty Acorns Program: Calumet Partnership, The Field Museum. Classroom lessons and Calumet site study introducing 400 fourth through sixth grade students to ecology and natural resources stewardship.
• Millennium Reserve Roots, IDNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Neighborhood native plant habitat installations which promote ecological connectivity with existing natural areas.
• Northerly Island Restoration, US Army Corps of Engineers. Restoration of 40 acres of upland and lowland habitat.
• Off the Beaten Path Eco-Tours, Southeast Environmental Task Force. Themed tours of natural areas, restoration sites, and industrial sites, lead by knowledgeable volunteers, which will highlight the ecological, industrial, and cultural heritage of the Southeast side of Chicago.
• River Volunteer Stewardship Program: Kickapoo Woods Demonstration Site, Friends of the Chicago River. Ecological restoration of a five-acre demonstration site through community stewardship workshops and volunteer workdays.
For more information on the Millennium Reserve: Calumet Core initiative please visit http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/millennium-reserve/Pages/default.aspx or the America’s Great Outdoors initiative please visit americasgreatoutdoors.gov/.