CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced more than $730,000 in investments to support local environmental education projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline and in the Millennium Reserve-Calumet region. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.
“These important investments will protect and manage the incredible natural and cultural resources surrounding our beautiful Lake Michigan,” Governor Quinn said. “They will also involve thousands of students and residents of nearby communities in creating a better environment for all.”
The projects are part of the Illinois Coastal Management Program (ICMP), which was officially formed in 2012 at the direction of Governor Quinn to protect and manage the natural and cultural resources along the 63 miles of Illinois’ Lake Michigan shoreline. The ICMP Coastal Grants announced today are investments of federal funds in environmental education projects that help achieve one or more of the environmental priorities within the Illinois Lake Michigan Coastal Zone. These priorities include habitat, ecosystems and natural area restoration; priority rivers, lakes and harbors; invasive species; public access and recreation; sustainable development; and economic development.
“These projects will help thousands of people to learn more and do more in support of protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the waterways and natural areas within the Millennium Reserve Calumet Core on Chicago’s south side,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller said. The department administers the Illinois Coastal Management Program.
For more information on the Illinois Coastal Management Program, visit the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/cmp. Applications for the next round of grants for spring 2014 will be accepted from November 1 through December 16, 2013.
The Coastal Grant Program projects announced today include:
Expanding Youth Conservation Action in the Millennium Reserve – The Field Museum; $67,337
Through the “Expanding Young Conservation Action in the Millennium Reserve” project, the Field Museum will sustain and expand the scope and geography of its youth conservation action programming in the Illinois Coast Zone on Chicago’s South Side, with a special focus on the Millennium Reserve in the Calumet region. It is expected that 15 trained educators and 300 students will be working on year-long conservation projects.
Calumet is My Back Yard – Chicago Public Schools; $100,000
Calumet is My Backyard program participants are approximately 600 high school students from 13 Chicago Public Schools – many with their first experience in natural areas – working to restore and protect 12 natural areas within the Calumet Region, providing over 6,000 hours of stewardship work and scientific investigation annually. The students focus on waterways in the Illinois Coastal Zone, including Lake Calumet, the Calumet River, the Little Calumet River, and the Grand Calumet River.
Think Beyond the Banks: Education and Outreach – Friends of the Chicago River; $30,806.67
“Think! Beyond the Banks” is a one-year, renewable outreach campaign that links river health and education with real world, everyday actions that improve the Chicago River. The campaign combines elements of Friends’ highly successful Chicago River Schools Network (CRSN) with new marketing materials and techniques to empower students to become river ambassadors within their schools, families and communities.
Experience Calumet Water Trails Community Workshops – City of Blue Island; $30,000
The City of Blue Island will hold a series of five workshops to raise awareness of Calumet area water trails, how water trails uniquely connect people to the ecological values of Calumet and to inspire stewardship activity.
Coastal Ambassadors Program – Chicago Park District; $96,371
The Chicago Park District (CPD) will create a new Coastal Ambassadors program to provide environmental education on coastal resources to thousands of children and families. Based on the successful Nature Oasis program in place at CPD, the team of educators will work with day campers, after school groups, families and other park customers through after school programs, field trips for day campers and family festivals.
Youth Outdoor Ambassadors – Forest Preserve District of Cook County; $99,115
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County will launch Youth Outdoor Ambassadors for the Calumet Region to facilitate youth and young adults having an active voice and role in the Forest Preserves. The Ambassadors will identify which programs resonate with teens and how young people can become inspired to become lifelong advocates for nature.
Stormwater: From the Ground Up – League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund; $31,771.95
This project was born out of the April 18, 2013 storm in northeastern Illinois that caused widespread, destructive flooding. Observing that most people did not understand how the storm sewer system worked, the Lake Michigan League of Women Voters will jointly conduct a campaign to educate citizens about problems associated with storm water runoff, emphasizing actions that individuals, communities and regions may take to prevent and alleviate flooding after rain events, with an emphasis on green infrastructure.
Lake Forest Ravine Education and Outreach Program – Lake Forest Open Lands Association; $74,036.70
The ravines of southern Lake Michigan play a critical role in protecting the water quality of the lake, preventing sediment runoff, protecting beaches, offering migrating birds a much-needed safe haven and protecting rare habitats native to this area. The Ravine Restoration and Outreach Program will create a comprehensive initiative to protect Lake Forest beaches and ravines, with education efforts and on-the-ground restoration.
AIS Outreach to Coastal Constituents – Illinois Natural History Survey; $38,500
Several aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) have been introduced into Lake Michigan via pathways including recreational boating and fishing, and intentional and accidental releases of invasive organisms in trade. Because prevention of introductions of new AIS is more cost effective than control or management of already established populations, prevention efforts will be promoted to recreational water users and water gardening hobbyists.
The Ripple Effect: Building a Community that Cares About Our Great Lake – Park District of Highland Park; $48,393
The Park District of Highland Park will develop interpretive signage, outreach materials, and purchase specialized science equipment to be used at their new Lakefront Interpretive Center opening in the summer of 2014 on Lake Michigan. The effort will enhance visitor learning about near-shore, dune and ravine ecosystems.
Millennium Reserve Regional Atlas – Biodiversity Project; $98,900
The project includes researching, writing and designing a report that outlines the great biodiversity of the Millennium Reserve region, with the Millennium Reserve Regional Atlas providing a resource for community leaders, local residents and educators to better understand the geologic, natural and human history of this unique region.
William Tillman Maritime Education Program – Prologue, Inc.; $57,210
This new program offers environmental education, job training and service learning for low-income, at-risk young people ages 16-24. Located along the Little Calumet River in Chicago’s Riverdale neighborhood and adjacent to Altgeld Gardens, it is a counterpart to Prologue’s new Tillman Maritime Academy, an alternative high school scheduled to open in fall 2014 for students who have struggled in traditional academic settings. The program will involve youth in a coastal and riparian setting working to gain employable skills and develop career pathways in maritime technology, waterway safety and conservation stewardship.